Court Reporter Jobs and Training Opportunities in Iowa

Researching how to become a court reporter in Iowa will help you to be more organized and prepared throughout the following step by step process:

Meet Skills Requirements to Become a Court Reporter in Iowa
Pass the Examination for Certification as a Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) in Iowa
Maintain your CSR Certification in Iowa
Begin Working as a Court Reporter in Iowa

Iowa court reporters work throughout the state’s judiciary system that is structured as follows:

  • Supreme Court in Des Moines with seven judges
  • Court of Appeals in Des Moines with nine judges
  • District Courts in eight regions representing 99 counties, including:

    • 116 authorized district judges
    • 37 quarter-time judges (working 13 weeks per year)
    • 12 juvenile judges
    • 152 part-time magistrates

As a court reporter you will be responsible for transcribing the official public record and work alongside justices, lawyers, the accused, and juries. The Iowa Board of Examiners of Shorthand Reporters (BESR) is the agency responsible for administering the certification process for becoming a court reporter, and last year there were 250 of these professionals working in the state, earning an average salary of $59,240.



Step 1. Meeting the Prerequisites to Become a Court Reporter in Iowa

Once you pass the Certified Shorthand Reporter examination, sponsored by the Iowa Board of Examiners of Shorthand Reporters (BESR), you will become certified and be legally able to work in the state. To be eligible to take this exam you must acquired the necessary skills as demonstrated by meeting one of the following requirements:

  • Have taken a court reporting course and attained a speed of at least 200 words per minute
  • Two years of previous experience as a court reporter
  • Graduated from a court reporter school that is approved by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)

There are two portions that comprise the Iowa examination and everyone must take and pass the written portion. You do not have to take the second part of the test, a skills evaluation, if you are in good standing with the NCRA and hold its Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) Certification.

There are also many court reporting schools located online offering open enrollment.

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.

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Step 2. Passing the Iowa Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) Examination

Once you have the appropriate court reporter training you can apply online to take the Iowa CSR exam, which is offered twice a year on the second Saturday in March and September. There is a $100 application fee and the testing is conducted at the American Institute of Business (AIB) in Des Moines. Make sure you turn in your fee and application at least 30 days before you want to test.

The skills test consists of the following five-minute segments which you must pass at with at least 95 percent accuracy:

  • Technical Q&A at 180 words per minute
  • Non-technical Q&A at 225 words per minute
  • Non-technical multi-voice at 200 words per minute

The written test consists of the following subjects and a passing score is considered to be 70 percent and above:

  • Medical and legal terminology
  • Spelling
  • Court procedures
  • Iowa Code Sections (602.3101-602.3302) and court rules relating to court reporters

Once you have passed the examination you will fulfill the license requirements to become a Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) as recognized by the Iowa BESR.



Step 3. Maintaining your CSR Certification

You will need to keep up with a 30-hour (3 units) continuing education requirement every three years. Each year you will be required to complete the following by September 1st in order to renew your CSR Certification with the Iowa BESR:

  • Renewal application
  • $60 renewal fee
  • Continuing education form

Continuing education can be courses, workshops, or seminars that are integrally related to the field of court reporting and contribute directly to your professional competency. These continuing education requirements happen to be similar to the NCRA’s maintenance requirements for the RPR Certification, making it easier for you to remain certified through both agencies if you choose.



Step 4. Working in Iowa

Court reporter jobs in Iowa are located virtually anywhere there is a courtroom, and that means at least every county seat. As you begin your job search you may consider joining a professional organization such as the Iowa Court Reporters Association (ICRA) where you can find information about:

  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Job announcements
  • Legislation affecting the court reporter profession
  • Colleague support and networking opportunities
  • Additional information about certification

You can also search for CSRs through the judiciary registrar to find out who your colleagues are. Some of the biggest court reporter employers in Iowa are:

    • Cedar Rapids
    • Davenport
    • Iowa City
    • Waterloo



Iowa Court Reporting Salary

Two hundred and fifty people worked as court reporters in Iowa in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The field of court reporting is growing, and the Iowa College Student Aid Commission projects that the number of jobs will increase by 13% a year in Iowa.

The BLS reported that the Southeast nonmetropolitan area of Iowa had the highest average wage of any such area in the country at $54,810 a year in 2012.  The average salary for court reporters in Iowa that year was $59,240 with those in the top ten percent of their field making an average of $71,650 annually.  Salary information for selected cities is shown below:

Iowa City
Average Annual Salary
Des Moines

In 2013, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission reported the average salary of court reporters in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan statistical area to be $45,660.  They also reported that 59% of the court reporters in Iowa worked for the state government.

The starting salary of a roving court reporter for the Iowa Judicial Board was $48,464 a year in 2013.  Court reporters for the Iowa Judiciary are generally known as certified shorthand reporters.

An examination is required to obtain this certification.  Only the written part of the exam is required for those who are registered professional reporters.  Applicants who are not in this category must also pass a skills test of their shorthand ability.

Twenty-five percent of the court reporters or stenographers in Iowa are self-employed, and 11% work for administrative and support services such as court reporting firms.

The BLS provides a breakdown of the hourly and annual percentiles earned by all court reporters in various parts of Iowa.  This information is shown below:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL
Estimate not released
Des Moines-West Des Moines IA
Southeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area
Estimate not released

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