Washington D.C., like Maryland and Virginia, does not license court reporters. However, a number of job postings for court reporters in Washington D.C.’s court system show that employers are looking for a number of distinct qualifications from these professionals.
Therefore, if you want to become a court reporter in Washington D.C., it is best to accomplish the following:
|Achieve a Court Reporter Degree/Certificate|
|Become NCRA Certified as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)|
|Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Washington, D.C. and Stay Connected|
As of May 2012, the metropolitan area of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria ranked third in the nation for its employment of court reporters. During the same time, the annual, mean wage for court reporters in this metropolitan area was $39,390. Maryland also ranks among the top in the nation for its concentration of jobs and employment level for court reporters.
Step 1. Achieve a Court Reporter Degree/Certificate
A solid educational foundation is a must if you want to become a court reporter in Washington D.C., or any other area of the country, for the matter. A comprehensive court reporter program may come in the form of an associate’s degree, certificate, or professional diploma, and schools offering court reporter programs often range from community colleges to technical schools. There are also a number of excellent offerings for online court reporter programs.
Regardless of the school through which you pursue a program in court reporting, you will likely receive education and training in the following areas:
- English grammar
- Real time writing
- Legal principles
- Medical terminology
- Legal and business ethics
- CAT software for transcript preparation
- Machine shorthand
You may also be searching for a court reporter program that meets the standards of The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The NCRA distinguishes all programs that meet the General Requirements and Minimum Standards (GRMS) through an NCRA-Accreditation. A list of NCRA-Accredited schools can be found on their website.
Explore Other Education Options Related to Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
Here you’ll find schools that offer certificate and degree programs well suited to a career in legal assisting, law office management and the paralegal profession.
Step 2. Become NCRA Certified as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
Although certification through the NCRA as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) is not a requirement to practice court reporting in Washington D.C., many professionals nevertheless achieve this designation so as to enjoy more professional opportunities. In fact, 22 states now recognize the RPR as being reciprocal to their state certification/licensing examinations.
To become RPR-certified, you must pass both sections of the exam, which include a written knowledge test (WKT) and a skills exam.
The RPR written knowledge test consists of 115 questions that are designed to assess your knowledge in: professional practices, reporting practices, and technology. You can register for the WKT through the NCRA, which requires an exam fee of $185 if you are an NCRA member and $210 if you are not.
Upon registering with the NCRA, you can find upcoming NCRA testing dates on the Pearson VUE website, the company that administers the written exam. You can also read more about the Pearson VUE testing centers, the closest of which are located in:
- 1615 L Street NW, Washington D.C.
- Bethesda, MD
- Alexandria, VA
- Vienna, VA
- Columbia, MD
You may then register and learn more about upcoming dates for the RPR skills test on NCRA website.
The skills exam includes testing in:
- Literary at 180 wpm
- Jury charge at 200 wpm
- Testimony/Q&A at 225 wpm
After each leg of the skills exam, you will be given 75 minutes to transcribe your notes. You must achieve at least 95 percent accuracy to pass each leg. You need not pass all legs of the exam at the same time, as you can retest for any legs you failed.
The closest skills exam locations are in Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland.
Step 3. Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Washington, DC and Stay Connected
An excellent way to stay connected with other members of the court reporting community in the Greater Washington D.C. area is through the Greater Washington Shorthand Reporters Association. This association provides a number of useful benefits to professional court reporters, such as continuing education and networking opportunities, which may prove to be helpful when maintaining your RPR certification.
Employment opportunities abound in Washington D.C., from its court system to its many private court reporting agencies.
Washington D.C. courts:
- Court of Appeals
- Superior Court
- United States District Court
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- United States Tax Court
Private sector employers:
- Alderson Court Reporting, Washington D.C.
- Toby Feldman Inc., Washington D.C.
- Planet Depos, Washington D.C.
- MAR Reporting Group, Falls Church, Virginia
- Merrill LAD, Washington D.C.
- Capital Reporting, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland
District of Columbia Court Reporting Salary
The Washington D.C. metropolitan area has the third highest employment level of court reporters in the nation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Government of the District of Columbia’s Department of Employment Services projects that the need for court reporters will increase by 1.12% in the period from 2006 to 2016.
The BLS indicated that the 2012 annual median salary of a court reporter or stenographer in the Washington metropolitan division was $35,560. Experienced professionals in the 90th percentile of their wage group made $51,510 annually.
A major employer for court reporters in the DC area is the District of Columbia Courts. Its Court Reporting and Recording Division produces a verbatim record of all Superior Court proceedings.
Official court reporters document about 75% of all the proceedings that take place in this court. In these cases, court reporters provide transcripts when requested. The Transcription Branch of this division provides transcripts of proceedings that were taped and not document by an official court reporter.
Business and support services are also major employers of court reporters throughout the county and in Washington, DC. Some of the private court reporting firms in this city include the following:
- Capital Recording Services
- Casamo & Associates
- Hendersen Legal Services
- Heritage Reporting Corporation
- M.A.R. Reporting Group, LLC
- Merrill LAD
- Neal R. Gross and Co, Inc.
- Olender Reporting
- Overnight Court Reporting
- Plant Depos
- Toby Feldman, Inc.
A detailed breakdown of percentiles for hourly and annual court reporter salaries is provided by the BLS and is shown below: