Court reporters fill a lot of vital roles in the legal system both in and out of the courtroom in Arkansas, but “human hurdle” was a new one during a 2020 murder trial in Benton County Circuit Court.
The details of the case were among the gruesome things that transcriptionists have to deal with all too often… the murder of a 6-year-old boy by his stepfather. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the boy’s stepbrother was on the stand, and asked a question about whether or not the defendant had ever sexually abused him.
In a rush of emotion, the stepbrother jumped out of the witness stand and leapt completely over the astonished court reporter on his way to attack Torres and defense counsel. The anguished witness was quickly taken into custody by bailiffs and no one was injured.
That reporter was probably thinking that they weren’t getting paid enough that particular day, but overall, Arkansas court reporters do quite well for themselves. With an average annual salary of $48,910, or $23.52 per hour, they make exactly $3.00 per hour more than the typical Arkansan worker, all while performing important work that provides a front row seat to the judicial process as it unfolds in real time.
Follow these steps to meet the licensing requirements necessary to become a court reporter in Arkansas:
|Complete a Certificate or Degree Program in Court Reporting|
|Pass the Arkansas Certification Examination|
|Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Arkansas|
|Pursue Professional Certification/Membership in Arkansas|
|Maintain Your Certification in Arkansas|
Step 1. Complete a Certificate or Degree Program in Court Reporting
Although it is not a requirement to do so for certification in Arkansas, you may seek a court reporter degree or certificate program that has been approved by the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), which is part of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). Only those schools that have been approved are considered NCRA Certified.
Step 2. Pass the Arkansas Certification Examination
Upon completion of a program in court reporting, you may apply to take the Arkansas Certification Examination, which includes both a written and skills test:
The written test assesses individuals in:
- General knowledge
- Rules governing preparation of transcripts
You must score at least 75 percent to pass the written portion of the test.
The skills test requires individuals to successfully complete the following:
- 5 minutes of one-voice dictation at 180 wpm
- 5 minutes of one-voice dictation of jury charge at 200 wpm
- 5 minutes of two-voice dictation of Q&A at 225 wpm
You must achieve at least 95 percent accuracy to pass the skills portion of the test. If you fail one of the sections, you may retake the failed section of the exam. However, if you fail either portion twice, you will be required to retake the entire examination again, regardless if you have already passed one of the sections.
To apply to take the certification examination and receive the designation of certified court reporter in Arkansas, you must complete the Certification Examination application, pay the $75 application fee (made payable to: Les Steen, Supreme Court Clerk), and complete the Criminal Background Check form, which is required for all applicants. The form, which is attached to the examination application, must be completed and sent with the test application, along with $25 for the background check (made payable to: Les Steen, Supreme Court Clerk).
The completed application, criminal background check form, and related fees must be mailed to:
Leslie Steen, Supreme Court Clerk
ATTN: Renee Herndon
625 Marshall Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
You may prepare to take the examination by reading the CCR Exam Instructions.
Step 3. Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Arkansas
Employment opportunities may be found through Arkansas’ Judiciary:
Or through the private sector in one of the state’s many large court reporting agencies:
Step 4. Pursue Professional Certification/Membership in Arkansas
Many court reporters choose to become members and achieve professional certification through the National Association of Certified Court Reporters or membership through the Arkansas Court Reporters Association.
The Arkansas Court Reporters Association is an excellent resource for employment and networking opportunities.
Step 5. Maintain Your Certification in Arizona
All court report certifications must be renewed on an annual basis on January 1, and the cost of renewal is $50.
The reporting period for continuing education credits is every 3 years on January 1, at which time certification holders must show the completion of at least 30 continuing education credits. Any credits over the required 30 may be carried over into the next reporting period.
You can view a list of acceptable continuing education activities here.
Arkansas Court Reporting Salary
Arkansas not only offers a very competitive salary to court reporters today, but it also offers some great opportunities to enter the profession in the future. Even with 200 court reporters in the state, between new jobs being created and openings in existing positions as some reporters retire, about 20 openings are expected each year across the state.
Those jobs will pay, on average, $23.52 per hour or $48,910 annually, with the numbers going up considerably for those with the right kind of experience and advanced certifications, as outlined below.
Although there’s no breakdown for major cities in the state like Little Rock or Fayetteville, you can expect to find wages higher than the state average in any urban center with a concentration of lawyers and courts.
Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Arkansas
- Median – $48,910
- More experienced – $57,760
- Certified and experienced – $65,120
Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Arkansas
- Median – $23.52
- More experienced – $27.77
- Certified and experienced – $31.31
*Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which court reporters work. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (metropolitan statistical area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.
2019 job growth projections from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and employment data accessed June 2020.