According to figures provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters in North Dakota earned an average yearly salary of $47,500 as of May 2012. The employment outlook in North Dakota over the next ten years indicates that jobs for court reporters in the state are expected to increase by 14 percent.
Court reporter jobs in North Dakota may be freelance or may involve working with the state’s court system (the latter type is usually referred to as an “official court reporter” in North Dakota). Both types of court reporters must receive training from North Dakota court reporting schools in order to be eligible to work in the state.
Follow these four steps to become a court reporter in North Dakota:
|Meet Educational Requirements in North Dakota|
|Become Nationally Certified, as Applicable|
|Seek Employment as a Court Reporter in North Dakota|
|Complete Continuing Education in North Dakota|
Step 1. Meet Educational Requirements for Court Reporters in North Dakota
Whether you plan to work for one of the many court reporting or transcription agencies in North Dakota or if you plan to seek employment as an official court reporter with the North Dakota court system, the first step in becoming a court reporter in North Dakota is to complete an approved program in court reporting.
In addition to stenotype training, court reporting schools in North Dakota teach students the following skills necessary to perform job duties:
- Usage of Computer Aided Transcription software systems
- Shorthand dictation and stenograph methods
- Technical terms
- Research methods and resources
- North Dakota court rules and procedures
- Business English, grammar and punctuation
- Office systems, equipment and procedures
- Word processing software
- Realtime captioning and Caseview transcription applications
- Usage of electronic recording equipment
- Legal research skills
- Recordkeeping skills
- Proofreading/editorial skills
Step 2: Become Certified Through a National Organization (If Desired)
Certification through a national organization is not necessary in order to become a court reporter in North Dakota. However, some official North Dakota state court reporter jobs will offer candidates who are nationally certified through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) a pay increase over candidates who are not nationally certified.
The national certification process entails passing an examination after completion of your educational program. If you choose to do so, the state of North Dakota prefers that you become certified through the NCRA as a Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR). In order to take the test to become a CRR, however, you first become certified as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). This two-step process is described below:
- RPR Certification: You must pass a multiple-choice written knowledge exam consisting of 115 questions in technology, reporting practices and professional practices. You must also pass a skills test that assesses your words per minute (wpm) in transcribing literary (must be 180 wpm), jury charge (200 wpm) and testimony/questions and answers (225 wpm). You may register at the NDRA website to take the knowledge test and the skills test on dates posted on the website. Skills testing is offered in Bismarck only, while the written knowledge test is given at Pearson Vue testing centers in Bismarck, Fargo, Sioux Falls, and nearby Brooklyn Park and Billings (both in Montana).
- CRR Certification: You must pass a two-voice realtime question and answer test. This involves accurate realtime transcription for five minutes, with at least 96 percent accuracy, at 200 wpm. You must set up and operate your own equipment for the exam, and must covert the file to ASCII text once completed. Test registration is available at the NDRA website. This test is offered in Bismarck only.
Step 3. Search for a Job as a Court Reporter in North Dakota
Now that you have completed the educational mandates for North Dakota court reporters, and may be nationally certified, you are ready to look for a court reporter job in North Dakota. Most official court reporter jobs in the state require that you have at least a year of verbatim court reporting experience in the legal setting prior to applying for an official job. Therefore, it makes sense to first seek employment with a transcription/court reporting agency in North Dakota. Some of the larger agencies in the state include:
- Norman E. Mark Court Reporter Service in Fargo
- Emineth & Associates in Minot
- Olender Legal Solutions statewide
- Legal Media Experts in Bismarck
Once you have at least a year of experience in verbatim reporting, you may opt to apply for a job as an official court reporter in North Dakota. When these types of jobs are available, they are posted on the North Dakota Supreme Court News Job Announcement site. The North Dakota Judicial System consists of a Supreme Court, District Courts, County Courts and Municipal Courts. See Step 5 below for a comprehensive description of the North Dakota Judicial System.
The North Dakota Judicial System is structured like this:
- Supreme Court – This is North Dakota’s highest court, consisting of five justices who hear appeals from the North Dakota Court of Appeals and administer the statewide court system. It is located in the state capitol, Bismarck.
- Court of Appeals – This court’s three judges only hear cases assigned to the Court of Appeals by the North Dakota Supreme Court. It is located in Bismarck.
- District Court – These courts are the state courts of general jurisdiction, and hear mostly all cases statewide including civil, criminal misdemeanor, criminal felony and juvenile cases. There are seven judicial districts throughout North Dakota:
- Northeast Judicial District – Walsh, Towner, Rolette, Renville, Ramsey, Pierce, Pembina, McHenry, Cavalier, Bottineau and Benson Counties
- Northwest Judicial District – Williams, Ward, Mountrail, McKenzie, Divide and Burke Counties
- Northeast Central Judicial District – Nelson and Grand Forks Counties
- Southeast Judicial District – Wells, Strutsman, Sargent, Richland, Ransom, LaMoure, Griggs, Foster, Eddy, Dickey and Barnes Counties
- East Central Judicial District – Traill, Steele and Cass Counties
- Southwest Judicial District – Stark, Slope, Hettinger, Golden Valley, Bowman, Billings and Adams Counties
- South Central Judicial District – Sioux, Sheridan, Oliver, Morton, Mercer, McLean, McIntosh, Logan, Kidder, Grant, Emmons and Burleigh Counties
- Municipal Court – Municipal courts in North Dakota hear cases involving violations of municipal ordinances.
Step 4. Complete Continuing Education for Court Reporters in North Dakota
Freelance court reporters in North Dakota need not complete continuing education (CE) in order to maintain employment, unless directed to do so by your employer. Official court reporters in North Dakota also need not fulfill any CE requirements unless you are nationally certified through the NCRA. If so, you must complete three units of approved CE every three years (these three units may be counted for both your RPR and CRR certification CE requirements). The NCRA website lists CE opportunities for North Dakota court reporters, including courses, seminars at the state and national levels, tele-trainings and distance learning.
North Dakota Court Reporting Salary
According to North Dakota’s Labor Market Information Center, the field of court reporting is expected to grow by 13.6% from 2010 to 2020. This category includes both court reporters and stenographers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average annual salary for the 60 court reporters in 2012 in North Dakota was $47,760. Experienced professionals in the 90th percentile made substantially more: $68,170 a year.
The North Dakota Judiciary System is a significant source of employment for court reporters in the state. It defines court reporters as people who use either shorthand or stenograph to record testimony during court proceedings.
The fifteen court reporters who were employed by the state in fiscal year 2013 earned from $22,476 to $71,196 that year. The average salary paid in 2013 was $59,374.
In addition to the courts, a number of private firms employ court reporters. Their services are contracted out to legal professionals and businesses that require an accurate recording of events. In addition, some court reporters specialize in producing captions to Internet or television broadcasts, so that those with impaired hearing can follow them.
Some of the court reporting firms in North Dakota include the following:
- Call Court Reporters
- Emineth & Associates
- Huseby, Inc.
- Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe
- National Court Reporters
- Norman E. Mark Court Reporter Service
- Thompson & Thompson Reporting, Inc.
- Worldwide Court Reporting
Court reporters with specialized skills such as having a knowledge of medical terminology are particularly attractive candidates for such firms.