Looking back now, it seems hard to believe it could happen in America as recently as 2012: two men walk into a small, unassuming cake shop in a suburb of Denver, and commission a wedding cake to celebrate their upcoming marriage. The shop’s owner, citing his religious beliefs, refused to bake the cake for a same-sex marriage.
The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and a case was created that would eventually find its way to the Supreme Court… pitting Constitutional protections of freedom of worship against freedom from discrimination.
Although the court ruled with the cake shop, the case sparked a conversation that helped shift the country even further toward accepting and upholding protections for sexual and gender orientation.
Being a court reporter in Colorado, a state with a rapidly changing demographic, means being in the front seat for such cases, watching new legal precedent and history itself unfold in real time. And as the fourth highest paying state for the position in the country, it also means making a solid living along the way… and the salaries are even better for those with advanced qualifications and experience.
Although court reporters are no longer certified at the state level in Colorado, many employers, including Colorado’s court system, require them to meet a specific set of qualifications. Follow these steps to become a court reporter in Colorado:
|Complete a Course of Study for Court Reporters|
|Achieve Certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)|
|Get to Work and Maintain your RPR Certification|
Step 1. Complete a Course of Study for Court Reporters
Court reporter programs come in many shapes and sizes, with programs occurring in everything from dedicated court reporter schools to technical schools and community colleges. Comprehensive court reporter programs provide education and training in the areas of:
- Communication and English grammar
- Realtime writing
- Legal principles and medical terminology
- Legal and business ethics
- Machine shorthand speed
- Transcript preparation through CAT software
Although not required, many individuals seeking court reporter education may look to schools certified through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).
NCRA-certified schools must adhere to the General Requirements and Minimum Standards that were established by the Council on Approved Student Education, which is through the National Court Reporters Association.
Step 2. Achieve Certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
Although court reporters in Colorado are not licensed or certified, many employers, including the Colorado court system, require court reporters to be certified as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) through the National Court Reporters Association.
The RPR consists of two, separate exams: a written exam and a skills exam.
The NCRA written knowledge test is a 115-question exam that includes the following components:
- Professional practices: 16 percent
- Reporting practices: 62 percent
- Technology: 22 percent
You must register with NCRA and submit the exam fee ($185 if you are a NCRA member and $210 if you are not) to take the written exam, which is provided by Pearson VUE. You can find more about upcoming NCRA testing dates for the written exam through the Pearson VUE website.
Pearson VUE testing centers are located in:
- Greenwood Village
You may register and learn more about upcoming dates for the NCRA skills test online.
The skills exam portion of the certification process includes the following components:
- Literary at 180 wpm
- Jury charge at 200 wpm
- Testimony/Q&A at 225 wpm
After the completion of each component, you will be given 75 minutes to transcribe your notes, and you must achieve an accuracy of at least 95 percent to pass this portion of the certification exam. If you are unable to pass one or more legs of the exam, you can retake it. There is no time limit for passing all components of the skills exam.
The skills exam is taken at the Prince Institute in Westminster, Colorado.
Step 3. Get to Work and Maintain your RPR Certification
Maintaining your RPR certification requires the completion of at least 3 continuing education credits every 3 years. You can find a wealth of continuing education opportunities through the NCRA.
Work in Colorado as a court reporter may be achieved through the Colorado court system, which includes:
You may also seek employment through one of the many private court reporting agencies throughout Colorado, including:
- Fort Collins Reporting, Fort Collins
- Denver Professional Court Reporting and Video
- Agren Blando Court Reporting and Video, Denver
- Resling Reporting Services, Colorado Springs
Colorado Court Reporting Salary
As the fourth-highest paying state in the country for court reporters, the average position can be expected to pay about $73,660 per year, or $35.41 per hour in Colorado.
It’s a tremendously varied state both geographically and demographically, however, and the concentration of court reporting jobs reflects the reality that where there are more people, there are more legal cases. The Denver metro area, including Aurora and Lakewood, has the fifth highest employment level for court reporters in the country.
On the other hand, the salary levels in the Denver area are broadly reflective of the state averages for reporters at various levels of certification and experience. Those at the top end make $97,730 per year, $2,000 above the state average for those with the same qualifications.
That gives you a lot of options for where to base yourself, whether it’s the wide open plains, the big cities of the Front Range with all their amenities, or some small ski town up in the Rockies. You can expect a great pay rate no matter where you are.
Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Major Colorado Metropolitan Areas
Denver (including the Aurora/Lakewood areas)
- Median – $67,250
- More experienced – $85,430
- Certified and experienced – $97,730
Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Major Colorado Metropolitan Areas
Denver (including the Aurora/Lakewood areas)
- Median – $32.33
- More experienced – $41.07
- Certified and experienced – $46.99
*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 Colorado Department of Labor and Employment 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.