There is no single regulating body that regulates court reporters in South Dakota, and there are several different paths of getting into the profession. There are, however, recommended career paths, which can help increase your chances of not only being hired as a court reporter, but of doing a good job and building a strong reputation.
Recommended steps to becoming a court reporter in South Dakota include:
|Decide on Primary Area of Expertise|
|Earn a Degree or Diploma in Court Reporting|
|Obtain a Certificate from the NCRA|
|Become a Notary in South Dakota|
|Find Employment as a Court Reporter in South Dakota|
|Maintain Licensure in South Dakota|
Court reporters in South Dakota use their years of training and experience in order to produce accurate and unbiased transcripts of legal proceedings. Though court reporters are generally associated with in-court legal proceedings, their primary working environment may be in other settings, depending on their employer and other factors.
Being a court reporter is a demanding profession that requires hard work and dedication to improvement. Court reporters in South Dakota may face challenges such as:
- Clients with difficult to understand accents
- Heartbreaking or humorous testimony which must be recorded in a professional manner
- Testimony which must be kept confidential
- Fatigue or boredom during hours of testimony
- Equipment suddenly malfunctioning
For all of these reasons it is extremely important that South Dakota court reporters adhere to the highest of ethical standards when performing their jobs.
Step 1. Decide on Primary Area of Expertise
One of the primary choices you will need to make when entering the field of court reporting is what kind of focus you will pursue within the profession. Court reporting is a field that has evolved over the years, and there are now several branches of the profession including:
- Stenography includes the use of the stenotype machine, such as has been seen in so many movies and television shows. When someone thinks of court reporters, this is the image which comes to mind.
- A voice writer records legal proceedings vocally, by using a microphone. Sometimes they even use a special face mask which is equipped with noise cancellation technology, which allows them to verbally record the audio which they hear in the legal proceeding.
- Various kinds of electronic equipment are employed by court reporters called “electronic recorders” in order to record legal proceedings.
Step 2. Earn a Degree or Diploma in Court Reporting
Earning a degree or diploma in court reporting from a college or technical school in South Dakota may be the best way to enter the field. A properly prepared curriculum will help ensure you are properly trained and ready to enter the work force. Also, when preparing your resume, graduating with a degree or diploma from a court reporting program is second only to experience.
Some court reporter program names in South Dakota include:
- Associates in Court Reporting
- Associates in Stenography
- Associates of Science in Court Reporting
- Technical Skills of Court Reporting
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 3. Join the SDCRA and Consider Certification through the NCRA
The South Dakota Court Reporters Association recommends that all court reporters in South Dakota get certified by the National Court Reporter’s Association, which is the largest and most well recognized of all national court reporter associations.
In order to become certified with the NCRA you will need to pass the Registered Professional Reporter exam. The exam covers a variety of topics and requires a score of at least a 70 percent in order to pass.
Though it is advisable to join the NCRA, it is no longer necessary to become a member of the association in order to take the exam and become certified.
Step 4. Become a Notary in South Dakota
It is advisable that all court reporters in the state of South Dakota become a notary. This will allow you to administer oaths, and become an “officer” in the sense that being a notary means holding an office. Since certain jobs are only available to notaries, so it is a good idea to gain your appointment.
You can find more information about becoming a notary in South Dakota here.
Step 5. Find Employment as a Court Reporter in South Dakota
Court reporters in South Dakota have a variety of employment options. South Dakota courts are employers of court reporters and include:
- South Dakota Supreme Court
- South Dakota Circuit Court
- South Dakota Drug Court
- South Dakota Small Claims Court
Much of court reporting work can be done outside of the court, in different kinds of legal proceedings. Some additional employment opportunities can be found in the following areas:
Step 6. Stay Up to Date on Licensure in South Dakota
One of the most important aspects of being a court reporter in South Dakota is staying up to date with all the different changes and updates that take place in the industry. One of the best ways to know the current state of the South Dakota court reporting profession is to read the South Dakota Court Reporters manual.
You will also want to join industry groups, such as the NCRA mentioned earlier. The NCRA has a requirement for three CE credits every three years in order to maintain licensure.
Another good resource is the South Dakota Court Reporters Association. Membership with this association will prove as an invaluable resource as it relates to networking, finding employment, and registering for continuing education courses which are meant to help you continue your learning and development as a professional court reporter.
South Dakota Court Reporting Salary
As is the case with most of the country, the employment levels of court reporters are increasing in South Dakota. The state’s Department of Labor & Regulation estimates that the number of court reporter and stenographer jobs will increase by 11.8% in the ten year period leading up to 2020.
This agency also provides information on the salaries of the sixty court reporters who worked in South Dakota in 2013. Their average annual wage was $43,921 a year, while those in the top ten percent of their salary bracket made $50,123.
A large number of court reporters work for state government, and South Dakota is no exception. In 2013, court reporters for the state’s Unified Judicial System earned from $41,808 to $46,509. Most of these employees were paid the higher wage.
Another source of employment is in the field of business support services with private court reporting firms. Professionals who work for these firms possess one or both of the following skills:
- Ability to transcribe proceedings verbatim with a high degree of accuracy
- Providing closed captioning so that hearing impaired viewers can watch television or Internet broadcasts
In addition to having a familiarity with legal terminology, some court reporters specialize in documenting legal proceedings that involve medical issues.
Some of the court reporting firms that are located in South Dakota include the following:
- Apex Court Reporting
- Black Hills Reporting
- Contact Court Reporting Services
- Dakotah Reporting Agency
- Gloe Reporting South Dakota
- Prairie Reporting
- Rapid Reporting
- Siouxland Reporting Service
- Thompson & Thompson Reporting, Inc.