Even as the violent crime rate has followed a downward trend line in the United States as a whole for many years now, the same can’t be said of Maui where there’s been a 50% increase over the past decade. That’s created more work in the courtroom on that island, including some tragic transcript work for the court reporters sitting in on those trials.
It’s all led to a surge in demand for court reporters in paradise.
But on the whole, Hawaii tends to be pretty mellow in terms of crime, with a 5thplace ranking among the most crime-free areas in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. It’s also ranked among the fairest when it comes to litigation, with the Institute for Legal Reform placing it at 15th in the nation.
In Hawaii, a career in court reporting can offer a great income in an interesting and well-respected profession, and you can get there through just a handful of steps:
Court reporter jobs in Hawaii are available in the following jurisdictions:
- Supreme Court in Honolulu
- Intermediate Court of Appeals in Honolulu
- Circuit, Family, and District Court Divisions as follows:
- Oahu – First Circuit
- Maui – Second Circuit
- Hawaii – Third Circuit
- Kauai – Fifth Circuit
Step 1. Familiarize Yourself with the Requirements and Get the Training You Need to Become a Court Reporter
Like many other states, the Hawaii State Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters has aligned licensing requirements with the National Court Reporters Association’s (NCRA) Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) credentialing requirements.
Although the rules governing court reporting in the state of Hawaii as adopted by the state Supreme Court do allow for the state to administer its own testing and certification, as a matter of standard practice the state just defers to the NCRA.
This means that you will earn the RPR first so as to be eligible for licensure through the Hawaii State Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters. You earn the RPR through an exam process that requires you to demonstrate you have the skills for the job. And to develop those skills, you turn to a formal court reporter training program.
The NCRA maintains a nation-wide list of approved training programs that meet the requirements for RPR certification. These programs are offered as certificate or diploma programs, which provide the shortest path possible to developing entry-level skills, but two-year associate’s degrees are also available through trade schools and community colleges. Besides programs offered at schools in Washington, Oregon, and California for anyone willing to make a trip to the mainland for their training, there are also some online court reporting programs available to residents of Hawaii.
Step 2. Become a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)
The NCRA’s RPR certification exam consists of two parts: a Written Knowledge Test (WKT) and a skills test. You can register for both of these online, but because the third-party testing agency Pearson Vue administers the written knowledge test, you will need to register for each one individually.
The WKT is comprised of 120 questions covering:
- Professional practices and ethics
- Reporting practices, including procedural knowledge
- Technology, including the software and machines used in court reporting
The skills test is an evaluation of your word-per-minute (wpm) transcription speed and accuracy divided into three parts:
- Literary at 180 wpm
- Testimony Q&A at 225 wpm
- Jury Charge at 200 wpm
You’ll listen to a five-minute recording of mock situations in each of these three categories, and are then given 75 minutes to transcribe your notes with a 95 percent accuracy rate.
Step 3. Choose to Work as a Freelancer or Directly with the Judiciary
Once you have been certified as an RPR through the NCRA your focus should return to the Hawaii Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters and your remaining requirements for certification with the state.
If you plan to work directly with the Judiciary you can skip this portion and move on to Step Four.
However if you plan to work as a freelance court reporter you will need to be a resident of Hawaii or maintain a local address here, and hold a notary bond. To become a notary in Hawaii:
- Fill out an online notary application
- Pay a $20 application fee
- Pay a $10 exam fee
- Pass a notary examination, for which the Attorney General’s Office provides a study manual for $3.00
- Pay a $100 issuance fee if you are approved
- Obtain a $1,000 surety bond from an insurance company to the satisfaction of the state
Step 4. Submit Your Application to the Hawaii Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters
You‘re now eligible to complete an application for registration with the Hawaii Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters. This includes:
- Proof of certification by the NCRA
- $125 application fee
- Passing a written knowledge test on Hawaii that includes:
- Hawaiian language vocabulary
- Geographic facts about the island
- State history and trivia (state flag, bird, motto, mammal, etc)
Step 5. Renew Your Certifications as Needed
You will have two certifications to keep track of – your NCRA and Board of Certified Court Reporters – plus a surety insurance policy if you are a freelance court reporter.
With the aim of keeping the certification renewal process as simple as possible, the Board has mandated the following requirements:
- License renewal fee of $50 due every year by January 31st
- Completion of 3 continuing education units (CEUs) every three-year cycle, coinciding with this same requirement for renewing the NCRA RPR certification
- Maintenance of the RPR certification, which requires the following:
- Membership with the NCRA, $300 per year as a Participating Member
- CEU requirement: 3 units per three-year cycle. Can be fulfilled concurrently with the Board’s CEU requirement
Step 6. Working in Hawaii
Court reporter jobs in Hawaii can be found across the state wherever there is a courtroom or court-related proceeding. A good starting point in your search for vacant positions is with the State Judiciary’s job opportunities webpage. The Hawaii Court Reporters & Captioners Association (HCRCA) is also a good resource for any of the following:
- Networking with colleagues
- Keeping up on the latest legislation regarding court reporters in the state
- Professional development
- Information about upcoming local continuing education opportunities
Prominent employers in the state include:
- Ralph Rosenberg, Inc
- Naegeli Court Reporting
- Ali’i Court Reporting
Hawaii Court Reporting Salary
Hawaii has a relatively small and legal community, which means court reporting positions are very limited here. There are only around 30 court reporters across the islands, which form a small, tightly-knit community and not a lot of turnover.
With that small number, salary data is also not collected either regularly or in detail. The most recent numbers published by the state for the Legal occupational group, which includes a wide variety of related positions, are listed below.
As is typical, wages tend to be higher in the urban centers of the state, including Honolulu, although Kauai offers both high wages and a great lifestyle.
Hourly Wages For Legal Professionals including Court Reporters in Hawaii
- Median – $37.23
- Median – $32.09
- Median – $30.44
- Median – $39.87
*Salary and employment data compiled by the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations as of May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which court reporters work. 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.
All salary and employment data accessed June 2020.