Court reporters in the New England state of New Hampshire must be bonded and licensed. The state Joint Board of Licensure and Certification has jurisdiction over the licensing process. The Board sets a standard of competency for all court reporters in the Granite State in order to maintain the integrity of the spoken word in judicial settings.
The steps you need to take to become a court reporter in New Hampshire are as follows:
Step 1. Earn an Associate’s Degree or Certificate in Court Reporting
Developing the skills necessary to effectively operate stenotype and stenomask equipment at the required speeds, as well as the knowledge related to judicial protocol that court reporters are required to have can only be accomplished through training programs offered at court reporter schools. Although New Hampshire has few court reporting schools, there are several excellent online institutions with court reporting programs available to state residents. Expect to devote at least 24 months to earning your diploma or certificate, which in addition to book learning, requires steno typing speeds of up to 225 words per minute.
The licensing requirements that must be met in New Hampshire include:
- At least 18 years old
- U.S. citizen or legal resident
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- Good moral character
- National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) OR National Verbatim Reporters Association certification (NVRA) as a Certified Voice Reporter (CVR)
- Pay license application fee of $300
Step 2. Earn Your Certification Through Examination
You are required to have either RPR or CVR certification, depending upon whether you are a stenotype or a verbatim (voice) reporter. Certification earned while living in another state is valid. Certifications are obtained by passing the appropriate examination, both of which consist of written and skills sections.
The RPR written examination consists of 115 multiple-choice questions on the following topics:
- Technology (22%)
- Reporting Practices (62%)
- Professional Practices (16%)
Passing requires a score of 70 percent or better. The skills test consists of three separate dictations of literary material, jury charges and question and answer testimony. You must reach speeds of at least 180, 200 and 225 words per minute respectively. You are given 75 minutes to transcribe each section and passing requires 95 percent accuracy. Check with either the NCRA or the New Hampshire Court Reporters Association (NHCRA) for dates and times that the examination will be given in New Hampshire.
The written examination for CVR certification tests knowledge of the following topics:
- Reporting the verbatim word
- Transcript production
- Transcript distribution
- Professional responsibilities/ethics
The CVR skills test consists of three five-minute dictations of literary material, jury charges and question/answer testimony. There is the same minimum words-per-minute requirement (180, 200, 225 respectively) as on the RPR test. The NVRA website contains information about New Hampshire testing dates and locations.
Step 3. Obtain a Court Reporter Insurance Bond in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Supreme Court regulations state that all court reporters practicing in the state must present the Board of Licensure with a court reporter surety bond in the amount of $1,000. Bonds can be obtained from any reputable New Hampshire company engaged in the bonding business (most large insurance companies issue bonds).
Step 4. Get a Job as an Official or Freelance Court Reporter in New Hampshire
Official – Reporters who work directly for the court system are referred to as “official” court reporters. The New Hampshire judicial system consists of a supreme court, superior court and 10 circuit courts (one for each NH county). The circuit courts, which include district, probate and family divisions, handle 90 percent of all cases filed in the state and they employ most of New Hampshire’s court reporters.
Information about open court reporter positions can be obtained from the circuit court clerk of each county.
Freelance – Freelance court reporters either work for a reporting agency or on their own. Manchester, the state’s largest city, and Concord, the state capital, have seven and five court reporting agencies respectively, while the cities of Dover, Exeter, Nashua, Northfield and Portsmouth each have at least one agency.
Inquiries about job openings should be sent directly to the individual agencies.
Freelance court reporters are also hired for things like depositions, hearings, board meetings or arbitrations. Employers include law firms, trade unions, non-governmental agencies, municipal agencies, corporations, medical facilities and educational institutions. In addition, TV stations employ freelance court reporters to caption programs for the hearing impaired.
The median annual salaries for court reporters in certain NH cities are listed as:
- Salem – $55,302
- Nashua and Merrimack – $$55,093
- Manchester, Derry and Bedford – $54,936
- Dover, Portsmouth and Rochester – $54,623
- Keene – $53,526
Step 5. Participate in Continuing Education
All licensed court reporters in New Hampshire must accrue three continuing education units (30 hours) every three years. Requirements can be met by attending adult education classes relevant to court reporting or by participating in NHCRA conventions, meetings, seminars or classes. The fee for a regular membership in the NHCRA is $50.
New Hampshire Court Reporting Salary
According to the New Hampshire Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau, the number of court reporting jobs is projected to increase by 8.8% from 2010 to 2020. They reported that 68 people worked as court reporters in the state in 2010.
Salary information for 2013 is available from Indeed.com for the year leading up to November 2013. They reported the following salaries for various types of court reporters:
- Court reporter – $23,000
- Digital court reporter – $31,000
- Official court reporter – $48,000
- Registered professional court reporter – $69,000
Court reporters who are employed by the New Hampshire Judicial Branch are required to be licensed by the state’s Board of Court Reporters. They define a court reporter as a person who has met the state’s requirements and is licensed to engage in voice writing or shorthand reporting.
Both of these methods involve making a verbatim record of what has been spoken in court. Shorthand reporters use abbreviations or written symbols to make their record.
In addition to seeking employment with the state of New Hampshire, other options include working for one of the many private firms in the business and support services industry. Court reporting firms employ these professionals and contract out their services.
Legal professionals such as attorneys and businesses hire court reporters to keep accurate records of their proceedings. In addition, businesses use court reporters to provide closed captioning of broadcasts for both television and the Internet.
Some of the court reporting firms that do business in New Hampshire include the following:
- Avicore Court Reporting
- Bragan Reporting Association
- Connelly Reporting & Video
- Duffy & McKenna Court Reporting and Legal Video
- Lynne Beck Court Reporting
- Mekula Reporting Services, LLC
- Todd Olivas & Associates