It’s bad news when a court reporter ends up directly involved in a court case, but that’s unfortunately the case in a recent murder investigation in Meriden, halfway between New Haven and Hartford. Perrie Mason, with a name made for legal work and a job as a court reporter for the state, went missing in August of 2019 after an argument with her boyfriend. Days later, her battered body was discovered near a textile recycling facility… which also happened to be her boyfriend’s place of employment.
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Even as reporters in the state mourn the loss of one of their own, they will also continue to exercise their duties with impartiality, both as a matter of professional integrity and as an homage to the comrade they recently lost… even in the upcoming case where Mason’s accused killer is brought to trial.
Because it’s a small state, Connecticut has a small community of court reporters. The average annual salary of $55,930, or about $26.89 per hour, is in line with the national average for the role.
In recent years, Connecticut ended their licensing requirements for shorthand reporters, so state-issued credentials are no longer a legal requirement to work in the state. But that doesn’t mean jobs are simply handed out to anyone who shows up. You’ll still need the right education, and nationally recognized certification is worth considering too.
You’ll have to take the following steps to be considered seriously as a court reporter in Connecticut:
|Complete a Court Reporter Degree or Certificate Program|
|Consider Earning a National Certification in Court Reporting|
|Get to Work in Connecticut and Maintain your Certification|
Step 1. Complete a Court Reporter Degree or Certificate Program
Connecticut eliminated the state licensure requirements for court reporters in 2018. Since 2013, the Judicial Branch has exclusively used digital audio recording systems, observed by dedicated court monitors.
Connecticut, however, is one of only 37 states where voice writer court reporters once worked for the state judiciary. This means that these skills are just as valued as the traditional stenytope skills among stenography agencies that contract services to law offices, businesses and government offices that need legal transicripts or real time verbatim transcription services (known as Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART for short). With the courts having gone to a digital recording system, it’s these types of non-judicial employers that provide jobs for anybody in Connecticut with stenography skills. The stenomask and related software produce final transcripts that are identical to that of traditional stenotype court reporting.
Both stenotype and stenomask skills can be learned through a technical school, community college, or dedicated court reporter school. Programs are available both in a traditional on campus format, and, increasingly, through online education options.
Whether you develop skills in stenomask or stenotype technology, or both, you’ll find comprehensive court reporter programs covering the preparation of verbatim transcripts and a number of other highly specialized skills to ensure accurate, secure and complete legal record.
Courses of study in a court reporter program may include:
- Realtime technology
- Legal terminology
- Medical terminology
- Courtroom procedures
- Computer-aided transcription
- Computer-compatible stenograph theory
Naturally, a two-year associate’s degree program will cover all these topics in more depth than a short diploma or certificate program. You’ll also get a more traditional, broader liberal arts education than the highly specialized short programs can offer, and that’s something that can really improve your communication skills and build a sense of professionalism. stenomask training for voice writing can be completed in a handful of months, while it typically takes about three years to really master stenotype at adequate speeds.
Step 2. Consider Earning a National Certification in Court Reporting
This means that several different types of certification are relevant to anybody getting into the field:
- Electronic reporter and electronic transcriber certification for digital audio and video recording
- Traditional stenographic court reporter certification
- CART captioning certification
Traditional Stenographic Certification
Of course, there is still plenty of work in depositions and other contexts for traditional stenography, so the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) from the NCRA or the NVRA’s (National Verbatim Reporters Association) Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR) certifications are also still valuable. Both tests consist of two portions: the written exam and the skills exam.
The Written Knowledge Test consist of multiple-choice questions and are offered through Pearson VUE for the NCRA and in person by the NVRA. You must pass with a minimum score of 70.
The Skills Section includes three five minutes tests in:
- Q&As, two-voice testimony at 225 wpm
- Literary at 180 wpm
- Jury charge at 200 wpm
You will be given 75 minutes per skills section, and you must create a final transcript with an accuracy of 95 percent.
CART Captioning Certification for Stenotype and Stenomask
The Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification is also offered through the NCRA and is available to anybody with enough stenography skills to be able to take the NCRA’s 10.5 hour CRC workshop.
Just like the other certifications, after completing your initial training, including the CRC workshop, you’ll go on to take both a Literary Skills Test (SKT) and Written Knowledge Text (WKT).
Stenomask / Voice writing
The NVRA’s (National Verbatim Reporters Association) Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR) certification offers another path to national recognition for stenographic recorders. The NVRA welcomes voice writers using stenomask equipment to become certified to the same speed and accuracy standards as those using stenotype machines.
Electronic Reporter Certification
That makes the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) or Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) certifications from the AAERT (American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers) particularly useful. With a focus on recording technology and the details of producing transcripts from digital recordings, the knowledge-based tests cover:
- Court reporting and technical questions
- General court procedures and practices
- Logging and annotation
The knowledge tests require a score of 80 percent or higher to pass, with a 120 minute time limit to complete the exam. This is followed, if you do pass, for the CET by a practical exam that requires creating a federal format transcript from a mock court recording within 150 minutes that has 98 percent or better accuracy.
Step 3. Get to Work in Connecticut and Maintain your Certification
Court reporters with the education, training and certification described here are well positioned to work in Connecticut’s court system, which includes:
Alternatively, many reporters and captioners work with private court reporting agencies that offer their services to law firms and business on a contract basis. Some of the largest in Connecticut are:
- Niziankiewicz & Miller, East Hartford
- Bridgeport Court Reporter, Bridgeport
- Scribes, Inc., New Haven
- Toby Feldman Inc., nationwide
If you earned a certificate, you’ll also be responsible for earning continuing education credits in order to keep it current:
- The RPR requires 3 credits every three years
- The CRC requires 3 credits every three years
- The CVR requires 20 credits every two years
- The CER/CET requires 30 hours every three years
Each of those organizations has plenty of recommendations for getting in the required minimums, but it’s also worth joining the Connecticut Court Reporters Association (CCRA) which offers both continuing education opportunities, networking events, and advocacy for the profession, all for only $125 per year.
Connecticut Court Reporting Salary
As of 2016, according to the state Department of Labor, there were about 250 court reporters employed statewide in Connecticut. Job growth is expected to be flat through 2026 for the position, but a combination of new job creation and turnover in existing positions will still result in around 20 openings per year.
And while the state average salary doesn’t quite beat the national average, reporters with more advanced education, certification, and experience can make nearly $70,000 per year, or $33.16 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide a breakdown for salaries in different areas of the state, but it’s common for reporters to make higher than average salaries in more heavily urbanized areas, so the New Haven and Hartford areas are likely to have both more job openings and better compensation rates.
Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Connecticut
- Median – $55,930
- More experienced – $60,270
- Certified and experienced – $68,970
Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Connecticut
- Median – $26.89
- More experienced – $28.97
- Certified and experienced – $33.16
*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 Connecticut Department of Labor 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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