In the state of Texas, court reporters are to be licensed by the Court Reporters Certification Board of Texas. The Board outlines the steps to becoming a court reporter in Texas as follows:
Technology is influencing the field of court reporting, as much in Texas as anywhere in the country. This situation is causing a great deal of conversation in the state, especially in recent years. The question is whether modern means, such as audio and video recording, are sufficient to render an accurate record of a legal proceeding.
Subsection 52.021(f) of the Texas legal code states that all depositions conducted in this state must be recorded by a certified shorthand reporter. Though there are some special exceptions to this rule, this law helps ensure court reporters a bright future in Texas. However, given the growing use of new technology, it would be wise for court reporters in Texas to expand their knowledge base and skill set to include all methods of reporting.
Step 1. Enroll in a College or Technical School Offering Court Reporter Programs
Learning how to become a court reporter starts with enrolling in an associate’s degree program offering training in stenography skills and knowledge related to law, conduct and protocol.
Local technical institutes, community colleges and specialized court reporter schools in Texas offer these options available at the undergraduate level:
- Associates of Science in court reporting
- Fundamentals of court reporting
- Associates of Stenography
Although a remedial English class may be required depending upon your placement test score, typical courses include:
- Business Law
- Machine Shorthand Theory
- Courtroom proceedings and practices
- Computer Technology
- Legal and Medical Terminology
Step 2. Fill out and Send in your Application
In Texas you are instructed to fill out the application to become a court reporter before taking the exam. Court reporters in the state must be approved by the Board in order to become licensed. In the case that you take the exam, and the board subsequently rejects your license paperwork, the $85 examination fee will be refunded.
Step 3. Take the Texas Court Reporter Certification Exam
Texas requires all applicants to pass a certification exam before a license can be awarded. The exam is not administered by the state of Texas itself. Rather it is administered by the Texas Court Reporters Association. There are two exams, a written exam which has a fee of $75, and a skills exam which has a fee of $125. Both exams can be taken at the same time for a fee of $190.
It is important to note that you must first receive permission from the CRCB before you will be allowed to sit for the exam.
Step 4. Find Work as a Court Reporter in Texas
After passing your exam and receiving your license to work as a court reporter in Texas, you can begin to look for work.
Some private sector employers in Texas include:
The judicial branch of the Texas government is another great place to seek court reporter jobs in Texas:
Step 5. Maintain Certification and Join a National Organization
Your Texas court reporters license will expire after two years. In order to renew, you will have to first complete 10 hours of continuing education, with no less than 2.5 of those hours being in ethics/rules.
It is a good idea to join local and national court reporter organizations after becoming licensed. Joining the Texas Court Reporters Association is a great way to network and stay abreast of changes to the professional in the state. Also, as an industry group, they will help protect and fight for the profession.
Joining the National Court Reporters Association is a good choice for anyone who is looking for a career in stenography.
If you were looking to focus on voice recording, joining the National Verbatim Reporters Association would best suit you career.
Texas Court Reporting Salary
Information from the federal government and the state of Texas indicate that is a good state in which to find employment as a court reporter:
- The Texas Workforce Commission estimates that there will be a 16.7% increase in the number of court reporting jobs in the period from 2010 to 2020.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that Texas had the fifth highest employment level of court reporters of any state in the country in 2012.
According to the BLS, the average salary of the 1320 court reporters in Texas in 2012 was $61,900 with those in the top ten percent of their salary bracket making $88,670. This agency provides information on selected cities in Texas. It is shown below:
The following cities were among the highest paying in the nation in 2012:
- Fort Worth – Fifth highest paying
- Austin – Sixth highest paying
- San Antonio – Seventh highest paying
In addition to employment in these cities being lucrative, the Eastern Texas nonmetropolitan area had the third highest average salaries of any such area in the country.
Employment levels were unusually high in the following cities:
- Houston – Sixth highest employment level
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington – Seventh highest employment level
Over 25% of the court reporters in Texas were located in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area in 2012.
While state and local judiciary systems are common employers for court reporters and stenographers, private firms are also a significant source of employment. According to the Texas Court Reporters Certification Board, 374 court reporting firms were registered with the state as of October 2013.
The BLS provides a highly detailed analysis of the wages of all court reporters throughout a number of areas of Texas in the following table: