The Big Easy is a big hotspot for crime. The city was dubbed the murder capital of America decades ago, and for more than twenty years running, averaged more than 250 murders per year according to local news channel WWL TV. That comes out to almost 40 per 100,000 residents, a staggering number for a terribly long time.
But there are signs now that the criminal justice system is starting to get a handle on the violent crimes in an otherwise laid-back city. The murder rate has been dropping since 2017, and at the current pace, the city might actually drop below the top 5 in the country.
It’s come at the expense of an increasing backlog for the judicial system, however, with prosecutors accepting 4,045 cases in 2016 and 4,743 in 2017 according to a study by independent watchdog the Metropolitan Crime Commission. The Orleans Criminal District Court handles these cases with 12 judges and a cadre of dedicated court reporters. Fingers have to fly to keep up with the increase, and by and large they have managed to do so, with pending cases dropping between 2016 and 2017, despite the increased caseload.
There are four steps that you will have to take to meet the high standards to become recognized as a Certified Court Reporter (CCR) through the Louisiana Board of Examiners of Certified Shorthand Reporters (LBECSR):
|Meet the Initial Qualifications for Certification in Louisiana|
|Become a Certified Court Reporter (CCR) in Louisiana|
|Maintain your CCR Certification|
|Start Working as a Court Reporter in Louisiana|
Once certified, you will be eligible to work in any of these courtrooms as a freelance reporter, official judge-appointed reporter, or both:
- Louisiana Supreme Court made up of seven judges
- Courts of Appeal divided among five circuit courts, each with a panel of at least three judges
- One District Court with at least one judge for each of the state’s 40 judicial districts
- Additional juvenile and family courts located across Louisiana
Step 1. Meet the Initial Qualifications for Certification in Louisiana
There are two ways you can meet license requirements in Louisiana to become a CCR:
- Pass the certifying examination given by the Louisiana Board of Examiners of Certified Shorthand Reporters (LBECSR)
- Apply for certification with the LBESCR based on their reciprocity criteria if you already hold certification from a different state agency or by passing a nationally-recognized certification exam like the NCRA-RPR (Registered Professional Reporter) CM exam or NVRA exam
Like most states, the Louisiana CCR examination covers both practical general knowledge about the medical and legal fields alongside skill-based evaluations of your typing and accurate grammatical dictation abilities.
There are three ways you can qualify to take the LBECSR’s CCR exam:
- Attend one of the state-licensed court reporting schools and pass its qualifying test that includes a five-minute two-voice Q&A at 225 words per minute with at least a 95 percent rate of accuracy
- Pass the LBESCR’s qualifying examination, which will cost $50
- Submit proof that you are a CCR in another state which includes the specification that you can complete 225 words per minute
LBECSR Reciprocity Recognition
If you hold the following certifications you can apply for certification with the LBECSR based on its reciprocity recognition policy:
- National Verbatim Reporters Association’s (NVRA) Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR) Certification
- Three National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certifications:
- Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
- Registered Merit Reporter (RMR)
- Certified of Merit (CM)
No matter how you are qualifying to apply for CCR certification, the LBECSR recommends all candidates attend one of the schools located throughout the state or online offering court reporter training to Louisiana students.
Certified Digital Reporter
Being recognized as a Certified Digital Reporter (CDR) in Louisiana involves attending the proper training and qualifying for state certification in one of two ways:
- Pass the CDR exam administered by the court you plan to be certified through using that court’s electronic equipment. Exam rules can be found here. Apply here.
- Passing score on the nationally-recognized Electronic Reporter and Transcriber certificate exam administered through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT)
Step 2. Become a Certified Court Reporter (CCR) in Louisiana
Your application to become a CCR in Louisiana depends on the way in which you are qualifying for the certification:
- If you are taking advantage of a reciprocity agreement you can apply with the Reciprocal Application for Certification. The fee for this is $125 plus $20 per seal
- If you are seeking certification by passing the LBECSR’s exam you will apply for this when you register for the exam. The full examination fee is $265
This exam consists of a written knowledge portion and a skills test portion, and is usually administered twice a year. The LBECSR offers exam rules on its website. You will be evaluated on two different tests:
- The written knowledge test is 100 multiple-choice questions covering:
- Legal terminology
- Medical terminology
- Grammar and punctuation
- The skills test involves dictation and transcription with the following five-minute segments:
- Literary dictation at 180 words per minute
- Jury charge at 200 words per minute
- Two-voice Q&A testimony at 225 words per minute
Step 3. Maintaining Your CCR Certification
You will need to keep your CCR up to date, and that means renewing it before it expires and obtaining the necessary continuing education. You can renew your license online starting August 1st. Renewing online costs $130 and renewing by mail costs $125. Your license expires annually on December 31st.
You will also need to earn 12 continuing education credits every two years, two of which must be in ethics. Credits may be obtained from the following, though you’re advised to confirm the LBECSR approves of the provider before beginning your course:
Finally, do not forget to update your metal seal certification each year.
Step 4. Going to Work as a Court Reporter in Louisiana
Once you have become a CCR your next step will be to begin the hunt for court reporter jobs in Louisiana.
Outside of the Louisiana state and municipal court systems, court reporters often work for firms that contract services to the courts, law firms, and businesses in need of legal transcription services. Some of the top court reporting and digital recording firms in the state include:
- Brooks Court Reporting in New Orleans
- Baton Rouge Court Reporters
- Huffman and Robinson in Metairie
- Jamie A. Roy in Lafayette
You’re advised to stay current on laws regarding court reporting, including Title 46 and RS 13:961, as well as any new legislation that affects the field. Building relationships with your colleagues can be an important part of finding employment, and joining professional organizations like the Verbatim Reporters of Louisiana (VRLA) or Louisiana Court Reporters Association (LCRA) is a good way to make contacts, keep up on the latest news in your profession and access continuing education opportunities.
Louisiana Court Reporting Salary
A court reporter anywhere in Louisiana can expect to make good money, and it’s a career that offers options both in the kind of secure, stable government positions that you can stay in for your entire career, or the more fast-paced, entrepreneurial world of freelancing, where your compensation is hourly and your potential limited only by the amount of business you can drum up.
The average court reporter in the state brings in $24.07 per hour, or $50,070 per year, although that number tends to be higher in big cities like Baton Rouge or New Orleans. A typical reporter in the Big Easy can make $57,230, or $27.51 per hour.
If you’re one of the elite reporters capable of pushing that machine to 300 words per minute or more, you could be making as much as $73,770 in the bigger metros, however, or $64,180 in most of the rest of the state. That comes out to better than $35 per hour, and it’s a good reason to get the right education and training to move into the top levels of the court reporting profession.
Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Major Louisiana Metropolitan Areas Like Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport
- Median – $50,230
- More experienced – $60,160
- Certified and experienced – $67,760
New Orleans (includes Metairie)
- Median – $57,230
- More experienced – $63,400
- Certified and experienced – $73,770
Shreveport (and Bossier City)
- Median – $42,770
- More experienced – $49,690
- Certified and experienced – $57,950
Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Major Louisiana Metropolitan Areas Like Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport
- Median – $24.15
- More experienced – $28.93
- Certified and experienced – $32.58
New Orleans (includes Metairie)
- Median – $27.51
- More experienced – $30.48
- Certified and experienced – $35.47
Shreveport (and Bossier City)
- Median – $20.56
- More experienced – $23.89
- Certified and experienced – $27.86
*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.