Delaware’s court reporters make pretty close to the national average for the profession according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with salaries coming in at $67,500 per year, or about $32.45 per hour.
But there is at least one who, as of 2015, was worth a lot more than that.
That’s Wilmington’s Julieanna LaBadia, a court stenographer at the New Cast County Courthouse. In the National Court Reporters Association championship, LaBadia hit a high of 280 words per minute, error free, to take home the prize in a grueling three-part contest that combines literary, legal opinion, and Q&A transcription against some of the best reporters in the United States.
With the right certifications, experience, and speed, court reporters in Delaware can do considerably better than the national average, and even better than the state average income for all workers.
In 2009, the Delaware Supreme Court rescinded a previously standing court ruling that required all reporters to hold the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) credential through the National Court Reporters Association. Since that time, there has been no certification or licensing requirement for court reporters practicing in the state. But since earning certification is a common way to show private employers and court systems that you have met high-level skill requirements, many reporters choose to earn the certification anyway. If you decide becoming a certified court reporter is the right option for you, follow these steps:
|Complete a Degree or Certificate Program in Court Reporting
|Attain Certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
|Get to Work in Delaware and Stay Informed
Step 1. Complete a Degree or Certificate Program in Court Reporting
Court reporter programs in the form of associate degrees or professional diplomas or certificates are plentiful throughout the United States, as well as Delaware. There are also a number of online programs in court reporting. Although the type of program, the degree or certificate acquired depends on the school or college in which the program is located, all programs are designed to educate and train individuals on how to become a court reporter, which includes transcribing verbal speech into written text for judicial processes.
You may seek a court reporter program that has been accredited by The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), through the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE). Only those programs that have met the General Requirements and Minimum Standards (GRMS) are allowed to call themselves NCRA-accredited.
Step 2. Attain Certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
Although attaining RPR certification through the NCRA is no longer a requirement for practicing court reporting in Delaware, many employers still seek individuals who possess this credential. Therefore, many of Delaware’s court reporters still pursue an RPR certification as to increase their chances of success in the Delaware workforce.
The RPR certification includes two separate tests: a written knowledge test and a skills test, both of which must be passed to achieve certification.
The NCRA written knowledge test, which consists of a 115-question, multiple-choice exam, includes assessment in the following areas: professional practices: 16 percent; reporting practices: 62 percent; and technology: 22 percent.
Pearson VUE is the test provider for the written knowledge test, so you can learn more about upcoming testing dates through the Pearson VUE website. Pearson VUE test sites are located in Dover and Newark (Wilmington), Delaware, and in nearby Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Salisbury, Maryland.
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.
The skills exam includes the following components:
- Literary at 180 wpm
- Jury charge at 200 wpm
- Testimony/Q&A at 225 wpm
You will have 75 minutes following each leg of the skills exam to transcribe your notes. You must achieve a 95 percent accuracy to pass this portion of the RPR certification exam. However, you are permitted to retest any leg of the skills exam you are not able to pass.
You may register for the skills exam online through the NCRA during open registration times, which are also posted on the NCRA website. Although there are not testing sites for the RPR skills test in Delaware, there are sites located in:
- Baltimore, MD
- Marlton, NJ
- Piscataway, NJ
Step 3. Get to Work in Delaware and Stay Informed
Because the Administrative Directive No. 132 may be reinstated, it is best to stay informed and stay connected with the Delaware court reporting community through the Delaware Court Reporters Association.
Within Delaware there are a multitude of professional opportunities for court reporters, whether in the judicial system or in the private sector.
Delaware court systems:
Stenography firms in Deleware:
- Hawkins Reporting Service, Wilmington
Delaware Court Reporting Salary
Delaware has a pretty tiny community of court reporters, fewer than 100 as of 2020. It’s small enough that the state Department of Labor doesn’t track job trends. And BLS does not break down their salary data for the different parts of the state, offering only statewide numbers.
In most cases, however, court reporters can expect to make the best money when working in larger urban areas. More litigation, more criminal court cases, and more general legal work happen in such areas. This is particularly true in Delaware where the state’s General Corporation Law is widely seen as the most advantageous in the United States and consequently sees many large national and international firms choosing to incorporate there.
That brings legal work and hefty paychecks in the door for anybody with the right certifications and experience, with the best paid court reporters in the state earning salaries that approach the $80,000 mark, or nearly $40 per hour.
Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Delaware
- Median – $67,500
- More experienced – $74,830
- Certified and experienced – $79,230
Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Delaware
- Median – $32.45
- More experienced – $35.98
- Certified and experienced – $38.09
*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 Delaware 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.