Court reporters in New Jersey are licensed and regulated by the State Board of Court Reporting, a section of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. In addition, the Certified Court Reporters Association of New Jersey (CCRA-NJ) endorses standards of excellence, dispenses important information, provides education and offers networking opportunities. The steps you must take to enjoy a career as a court reporter in New Jersey are as follows:
|Graduate from a Court Reporter School Program|
|Complete New Jersey Board Application and Pay Fees|
|Pass New Jersey Board-Approved Court Reporter Certification Exam|
|Find a Job as a Court Reporter in New Jersey|
|Participate in Continuing Education|
New Jersey courts and businesses are teeming with activity. There are currently 250 (2010) certified court reporters employed in New Jersey and that number is expected to increase 14 percent by 2020.
Step 1. Graduate from a Court Reporter School Program
There is at least one accredited on-campus school for court reporting in New Jersey as well as several excellent online institutions. Plan on devoting two years to complete your education and possibly longer if needed to achieve the required speed levels. Many schools provide job search assistance. You can choose to focus on regular stenotype reporting or specialize in either broadcast captioning or CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation).
A federal 2006 law mandating the captioning of television programs for the deaf or hearing impaired has greatly increased the need for court reporters to transcribe dramas, sitcoms, documentaries, sports events, news and special events.
CART involves transcribing the spoken word for deaf or hearing impaired persons at all kinds of functions and places, such as lecture halls, classrooms, churches, boardrooms, committee meetings, conventions, hospitals, etc.
The NJ Board of Court Reporting requirements to become a certified court reporter are:
- At least 18 years of age
- Good moral character as established by a criminal background search
- High school diploma or its equivalent; court reporter training
- Application submitted at least three weeks before exam date
- Application fee paid
- Successful completion of Board approved certification exam
- New Jersey location for the transaction of business
Step 2. Complete New Jersey Board Application and Pay Examination Fee
Application forms are available online or can be requested from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Consumer Affairs, Board of Court Reporting, 124 Halsey Street, 6th Floor, P.O. Box 45019, Newark, NJ 07101; 973-504-6490. Include a passport-style photo and the $150.00 application fee.
Step 3. Pass Board Approved New Jersey Court Reporter Certification Exam
On May 1, 2006, the Board of Court Reporting mandated that the National Court Reporter Association (NCRA) Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification examination was the qualifying examination for a New Jersey court reporter license. There is no reciprocal agreement with other states; therefore licensed court reporters from elsewhere must take the required exam.
The NCRA examination for RPR certification includes both written and skill tests. The written examination covers three topic areas:
- Technology (22%)
- Reporting Practices (62%)
- Professional Practices (16%)
You must score at least 70 percent to pass. The skills test encompasses three dictations of different materials requiring differing minimum words-per-minute (wpm).
- Literary Material (180 wpm)
- Jury Charges (200 wpm)
- Question & Answer Testimony (224 wpm)
You are allowed 75 minutes to transcribe each section. Passing requires 95% accuracy.
Examination sites and dates in New Jersey are posted online by the Board of Court Reporting or you can call them at 973-504-6490.
Step 4. Find a Job as a Court Reporter in New Jersey
Court reporters in New Jersey can either work directly for the courts (official court reporters) or work on their own (freelance court reporters). The NJ judiciary system consists of the Supreme Court and Superior Courts (often referred to as Trial Courts). There is a Superior Court in each of the state’s 21 counties. Appellate, tax and municipal courts are under the umbrella of the Superior Courts which have 360 trial judges that handle approximately six million of the seven million cases filed in New Jersey each year.
Municipal courts are found in cities, townships or boroughs; their cases include motor vehicle violations, minor crimes like shoplifting or simple assault, and violations of hunting, fishing or boating laws. New Jersey courts maintain a base of official court reporters for each county courthouse. Contact the Court Administrator of each individual county courthouse to inquire about open positions.
Many freelance court reporters are employed by court reporting agencies. There are over 80 of these agencies in NJ, seven in Newark alone. Contact the individual agencies to inquire about job opportunities. Law firms also hire court reporters to transcribe depositions, statements, board meetings, etc., as do educational institutions, medical centers, trade unions, non-governmental agencies and corporations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary for court reporters in the state of New Jersey is $55,450. Annual mean salaries for court reporters in certain NJ cities are as follows:
- Jersey City – $60,889
- East Orange, Elizabeth, Newark and Paterson – $60,158
- Trenton – $59,636
- Atlantic City – $56, 451
Step 5. Participate in Continuing Education in New Jersey
Certified court reporters in New Jersey must complete 14 credits of continuing education every two years. At least 10 of those credits must be in core court reporting areas. The CRRA-NJ sponsors educational seminars and meetings throughout the year which count toward continuing education credits.
New Jersey Court Reporting Salary
Two hundred and fifty people were employed as court reporters in New Jersey in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The field of court reporting is projected to grow by 6.6% in new Jersey in the period from 2010 to 2020 according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Salary data for court reporters in New Jersey is available from the BLS. The median salaries and those of professionals in the 90th percentile are given below:
A major source of employment for court reporters throughout the country is the state judiciary system. The 2012 annual salaries for the following professionals who worked for the New Jersey Judiciary are listed below:
- Official court reporter: $44,780
- Official court reporter level II: $72,570 – $102,116
The mission of official court reporters in New Jersey includes the following:
- Recording and maintaining a verbatim stenographic record of proceedings
- Performing the following tasks when requested
- Preparing transcripts on appeal matters
- Reading the transcript back to juries
- Providing real time translation for those who have impaired hearing
Alternate terms for court reporters in New Jersey include:
- Court transcriber
- Mask reporter
Aside from working directly for courts, a number of court reporters and stenographers work for court reporting firms that provide services to attorneys and businesses that require a transcription of their events.
The BLS provides a breakdown of 2012 court reporter salaries in various parts of New Jersey by hourly and annual percentiles in the following table: