Kentucky has crime problems just like every other state, although it ranks below the national average when it comes to violent crimes. Court reporters here see plenty of drug, property, and other types of street crime prosecutions pass through the courtrooms they work in every day.
Those drug-driven crimes, though, have largely been precipitated by some decidedly white-collar malfeasance. And it’s this very situation that has made the most attention-grabbing case in the state in recent years a civil one: the lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, a Connecticut-based company that the Kentucky Attorney, along with 20 other states and 2,000 local governments, sued for its role in pushing OxyContin prescriptions.
It was a long, drawn-out case that began all the way back in 2007, but many people identify the 2015 deposition of Purdue executive, Richard Sackler in a Louisville law office as a key point in the proceedings. The devastating admissions exacted by lawyers as the court reporter laid down the testimony on video may have been key in obtaining the settlement, some four months later, when Kentucky alone was awarded $24 million.
Not all cases have that kind of drama or impact, but the role of court reporters remains vital in all of them. With only three key steps to getting your career started, you can become one of them.
|Get the Training Required to Work as a Court Reporter|
|Becoming Familiar with the Profession and Keeping up with Developments in the Field|
|Get Started Working as a Court Reporter in Kentucky|
Step 1. Get the Training Required to Work as a Court Reporter
Kentucky is among several states that don’t have a state certification process for court reporters. This means you’ll pursue the training required to become a court reporter completely on your own volition to meet the skill and knowledge requirements for the job.
Electively, you can then go on to earn a nationally recognized exam-based certification like the RPR (Registered Professional Reporter) through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) as a way to add a credential that the courts and other employers will immediately recognize as representing a minimum level of proficiency.
For the average person, typing on a phonetically chorded stenotype keyboard does not come naturally, let alone typing at speeds of over 225 words per minute to accurately capture the words of several speakers at once. However, this kind of speed and accuracy is the standard expectation for stenographers in any courtroom, making comprehensive training the one essential element of getting your career started in the field.
The typical curriculum includes:
- Speed building tests
- Steno writing
- Pretrial and court trial preparation
- Rapid data entry for meetings, depositions, and medical transcribing
- Shorthand and stenotype theories/methods
A quality program at one of Kentucky’s community colleges, technical schools or specialized court reporting schools will prepare you to be a competitive candidate. You’ll find both two-year associate degree programs and shorter certificate and diploma programs available in the state, as well as online.
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. Becoming Familiar with the Profession and Keeping up with Developments in the Field
One of the most important things you can do as a court reporter is to stay abreast of developments taking place in Kentucky Legislature, with particular attention to any new laws regarding the practice of court reporting in the state.
The Kentucky Court Reporters Association (KYCRA) is not only a professional membership organization that you’ll likely choose to join as you enter the profession, it’s the primary professional advocacy group for court reporters and leads the charge in advancing the profession through continuing education and other opportunities. This means it’s also going to be your go-to source for information on legislative developments and anything else of interest to the profession.
Although currently there are no court reporter license requirements in Kentucky, regulations can and do change, and it is in your best interest to stay one step ahead.
Aside from legislation affecting court reporters, it is also important to keep up on the latest technological developments in the field, and to develop some proficiency with tools and methods other than just the stenotype, to include digital recording and the steno mask. As new technology comes on the scene, it’s wise to stay current on the latest developments.
Digital recording and other technology should not be viewed as a threat to the profession since it’s more likely to be used as an augmentative tool rather than something that would replace the discriminating mind of a professional transcriptionist. Skilled reporters are still needed to transcribe multiple lines of speech from multiple speakers at once, and create a phonetic transcription that captures different dialects, accents, linguistic nuances and vernacular from different parts of the country, and around the world.
Step 3. Get Started Working as a Court Reporter in Kentucky
Before you set foot in the courtroom you should already be well aware of the rules and traditions regarding courtroom etiquette and professional conduct. Maintaining a good reputation is a close second in importance right behind your actual professional capabilities.
You can always sit in on a public court proceeding as a non-professional if you choose.
Joining the Kentucky Court Reporters Association (KYCRA) will give you access to the court reporter directory, along with opportunities for:
- Seminars, lectures, and conferences for court reporters
- Networking with colleagues and industry professionals
- Learning about new or controversial developments in the court reporting field
- Meaningful support from like-minded professionals
There are hundreds of court reporters working across Kentucky, for firms that contract their services to the courts, law offices and anywhere else legal and other transcription services are needed:
- Court Reporting Services, Inc based in Louisville
- An/Dor Reporting and Video Technologies, Inc serving Lexington
- Taylor Court Reporting serving Owensboro and Bowling Green
- Kentuckiana Court Reporters serving the Covington area
Kentucky Court Reporting Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not capture statewide court reporting salaries for Kentucky in their most recent (May 2019) survey, but they do offer in-depth data on two of the major metro areas in the state.
The highest salaries for court reporters at all level are found in the Covington area, in the suburbs of Cincinnati. A median salary of $53,670, or $25.80 an hour, is solid for a state where the median income overall is $44,020. And reporters with the right kind of qualifications and experience, including training and specialty certifications, can pull in $75,080 per year, or more than $36 per hour.
While the Louisville area is not quite that attractive in terms of salary, the cost of living is lower, and the job remains a vital and in-demand position in both civil and criminal courts.
Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Major Kentucky Metros Including Louisville and Covington
Covington (and the Cincinnati metro area)
- Median – $53,670
- More experienced – $64,630
- Certified and experienced – $75,080
Louisville (and the Jefferson County area)
- Median – $36,940
- More experienced – $40,540
- Certified and experienced – $46,420
Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Major Kentucky Metros Including Louisville and Covington
Covington (and the Cincinnati metro area)
- Median – $25.80
- More experienced – $31.07
- Certified and experienced – $36.10
Louisville (and the Jefferson County area)
- Median – $17.76
- More experienced – $19.49
- Certified and experienced – $22.32
*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.
All salary and employment data accessed June 2020.