Court Reporter Jobs and Training Opportunities in California

Like a lot of things about California, the scale of the justice system here is staggering. The state has the largest court system in the nation, serving around twelve percent of the country’s population, or almost 40 million people according to the state’s judicial branch. At the Superior Court level alone, the cases they generate lead to nearly 5 million dispositions annually.

That translates into a lot of work for court reporters, and, California being California, it can include work on some high-profile cases in both civil and criminal matters. Some of these courtroom dramas have captivated the nation, and continue to have major impacts on the country – from the OJ Simpson Trial to the LAPD assault of Rodney King, to contemporary cases like the Theranos fraud case, and most recently, California vs. Texas, which is currently playing out in the courts and may decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Glamour, grifting, and sleaze… California court reporters see it all. With an employment level that is the highest of any state in the nation, and an annual salary that comes in second, it would be a solid career choice here even without the drama.

Follow these steps to become a court reporter in California:

Complete an Approved Court Reporter Educational Program
Pass the California Licensing Exam
Sit for the Dictation and Transcription Exam
Sit for the California Written Examinations
Get to Work as a Court Reporter in California
Maintain your California License

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Approved Court Reporter Educational Program

If you want to practice as a court reporter in California, and you do not have prior experience, an RPR or Certificate of Merit from the NCPA, or a reciprocal court reporter license or certificate from Georgia, Nevada or Texas, you must complete a court reporter educational program that is recognized by the California Court Reporters Board.

State-approved court reporter programs include a set number of hours/credits related to:

  • English
  • Law
  • Medical
  • Transcript preparation
  • Resource materials
  • Apprentice training
  • Technology

Graduates must be able to type at least 45 wpm and complete a total of 660 academic hours and 2,300 machine hours.

Featured Program

International Realtime Court Reporting Institute offers self-paced online programs at all levels, from basic and retraining courses in speech-to-text technology to advanced CAT system training in Eclipse Vox. Get started today.

Grand Canyon University offers B.S. in Justice Studies and M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies. Request Information

SNHU offers an A.S. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice, and M.S. in Criminal Justice. Request Information

 


 

Step 2. Pass the California Licensing Exam

The California Court Reporters Board requires the successful completion of a three-part licensing exam, which requires 200 wpm and an accuracy rate of 97.5 percent. The licensure exam includes both written and performance sections.

You must first complete an Application for Examination as a Certified Shorthand Reporter and send it to the Board, along with:

  • A filing fee of $40
  • An initial certificate fee of $75
  • Two current passport photos (2”x 2”)
  • 2 fingerprint cards and a $49 fingerprint processing fee (for out-of-state applicants)

Mail the completed application packet and related documentation and fees to:

Court Reporters Board of California
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 230
Sacramento, CA 95883

 


 

Step 3. Sit for the Dictation and Transcription Exam

Upon receipt of your application packet, you will receive a Final Notice of Examination form that includes a testing time, date and location for your dictation exam. If your application is incomplete or not accepted, you will instead receive a Rejection of Application letter.

You will be required to show your Final Notice of Examination form and two approved forms of photo identification (driver’s license, U.S. passport, certification of naturalization, military ID, etc.) before being admitted into the exam room.

The dictation and transcription exam includes four-voice dictation from an actual court or deposition transcript at 200 wpm for 12 to 13 minutes. Allow 3 hours for transcription. You will be permitted to bring your stenotype machine and tripod into the examination room.

 


 

Step 4. Sit for the Written Examinations in California

The English Examination and Professional Practice Examination are conducted via computer-based testing through PSI.

Upon your application approval, you will receive a Candidate Information Bulletin from PSI that includes a unique identification number and instructions how to schedule your exam through PSI.

PSI Testing Centers are located in:

  • Walnut Creek
  • Visalia
  • Ventura
  • Santa Rosa
  • Santa Clara
  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • Sacramento
  • Riverside
  • Redding
  • Hayward
  • Fresno
  • El Monte
  • Caron
  • Burbank
  • Bakersfield
  • Atascadero
  • Anaheim

 


 

Step 5. Get to Work as a Court Reporter in California

Upon successfully passing all examinations and qualifying for your court reporter license in California by completing an Application for Licensure for New Licensee, you may seek employment in California’s court system:

There are also many professional opportunities in the private sector, including the following large court reporting/stenographer agencies:

A number of professional and networking opportunities are also available through membership in the California Court Reporters Association.

 


 

Step 6. Maintain your California License

All court reporter licenses in California are renewed on an annual basis. You must apply for renewal by completing a Renewal Conviction Certification form and submitting a renewal fee of $125.


 

California Court Reporting Salary

As the second-highest paying state for court reporters in the country, a solid living is all but assured nearly anywhere in California. But the highest employment levels in the state are in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area, which ranks third in the country overall, and the San Francisco-Oakland area, at number seven. Better yet, San Francisco comes in number one in the nation for top-paying metro areas, with an average annual salary of $118,980.

But don’t overlook Riverside and San Bernardino, which are both more affordable areas and come in tenth on the national employment list, with an average salary breaks six figures at $115,810 versus LA’s $88,100.

Stockton and San Diego also do well in comparative salaries when you start looking at the top end, where the most experienced and best trained reporters find themselves. Both range over $120,000 annually, or nearly $60 per hour.

Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Major California Metropolitan Areas

Bakersfield

  • Median – $89,920
  • More experienced – $98,850
  • Certified and experienced – $104,340

Los Angeles (Greater LA, including Long Beach and Anaheim)

  • Median – $88,100
  • More experienced – $98,640
  • Certified and experienced – $111,410

Riverside area (including the cities of San Bernardino and Ontario)

  • Median – $115,810
  • More experienced – $124,590
  • Certified and experienced – $129,900

Sacramento (including Roseville and Arden-Arcade)

  • Median – $88,270
  • More experienced – $99,050
  • Certified and experienced – $105,640

San Diego (with the city of Carlsbad)

  • Median – $62,750
  • More experienced – $106,780
  • Certified and experienced – $120,950

San Francisco (Bay Area cities including Oakland and Hayward)

  • Median – $118,980
  • More experienced – $130,330
  • Certified and experienced – $153,120

San Jose (with Sunnyvale and Santa Clara)

  • Median – $54,280
  • More experienced – $59,720
  • Certified and experienced – $63,180

Stockton (including Lodi)

  • Median – $97,330
  • More experienced – $106,450
  • Certified and experienced – $120,950

Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Major California Metropolitan Areas

Bakersfield

  • Median – $43.23
  • More experienced – $47.52
  • Certified and experienced – $50.16

Los Angeles (Greater LA, including Long Beach and Anaheim)

  • Median – $42.35
  • More experienced – $47.42
  • Certified and experienced – $53.56

Riverside area (including the cities of San Bernardino and Ontario)

  • Median – $55.68
  • More experienced – $59.90
  • Certified and experienced – $62.45

Sacramento (including Roseville and Arden-Arcade)

  • Median – $42.44
  • More experienced – $47.62
  • Certified and experienced – $50.79

San Diego (with the city of Carlsbad)

  • Median – $30.17
  • More experienced – $51.34
  • Certified and experienced – $58.15

San Francisco (Bay Area cities including Oakland and Hayward)

  • Median – $57.20
  • More experienced – $62.66
  • Certified and experienced – $73.61

San Jose (with Sunnyvale and Santa Clara)

  • Median – $26.09
  • More experienced – $28.71
  • Certified and experienced – $30.37

Stockton (including Lodi)

  • Median – $46.79
  • More experienced – $51.18
  • Certified and experienced – $58.15

 

*Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labors Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which court repoters 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 California Employment Development Department 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.

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