Court reporters in West Virginia play an important role in the state’s legal system. By recording all manner of legal proceedings, they help ensure that an accurate record is maintained. These records may very well be used again in future legal proceedings. This was the case in October 2013 when the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned a shooting conviction of a man accused of murdering a former Marshall football player. The court reviewed the court report of the testimony in the trial, and even called one exchange between the Circuit judge who presided over the case, and the defense attorney, “bizarre.”
While on the job, you may encounter testimony that you find funny, disturbing, or even morally objectionable. However, you must be able to maintain your composure and report what you hear with the utmost of impartiality and accuracy.
The steps to becoming a court reporter in the state of West Virginia include:
|Earn an Associate’s Degree or Certificate in Court Reporting|
|Pursue Employment as a Court Reporter in West Virginia|
|Consider Becoming Nationally Certified|
Step 1. Earn an Associate’s Degree in Court Reporting
Court reporters in West Virginia are largely unregulated, requiring no certification or licensure in order to practice. This means that the only hurdle to employment is the right training and education. Gaining the stenography skills required of a court reporter can only be done through a formal training program. These programs are typically offered as undergraduate certificates or associate’s degrees.
Search online or local West Virginia court reporting schools and technical institutes for appropriate programs such as:
- Associates of Science in Court Reporting
- Real-time Reporting
Beyond technical skills in stenography or stenomask reporting or legal knowledge related to court room protocol, court reporters in West Virginia should have the following characteristics:
- Maintains information in strict confidentiality
- Always discloses potential conflicts of interest to all parties
- Ability to control their emotions and opinions while on the job
Step 2. Pursue Employment as a Court Reporter in West Virginia
There are several ways to find work as a court reporter in West Virginia. Networking and referrals are a worthwhile way of going about it, as is applying directly for open jobs.
If you wish to work in the courts, consider applying to these West Virginia courts directly:
- West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
- West Virginia Circuit Courts
- West Virginia Family Courts
- Kanawha County Courts
Additionally, you may decide to apply directly to companies that may be hiring court reporters in the state. Many of these companies will work primarily in private settings, out of the courthouse. They include:
Step 3. Consider National Certification
National associations such as the National Court Reporters Association and the National Verbatim Reporters Association are your best bet for getting certified. Their certifications are the most widely recognized in the country, and they are generally considered to be leaders in the industry. Focus on the NCRA certification if you want to go into stenography or shorthand reporting. Focus on the NVRA if you want to go into voice reporting.
If you wish to work in the courthouses in the state of West Virginia, you must become certified to do so. You must contact Mary Greene, Administrative Office (304) 558-0145 to get more information on becoming certified to work in the court houses. Alternatively, contact the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
Because networking and staying involved in the court reporter community is so important, it is strongly advisable that you join at least one local, and one national court reporters association. The NCRA and the NVRA, mentioned above, do not require membership in order to take their certification exams. But it is still a good idea to become a member of the association by which you are certified. Also, joining with the West Virginia Court Reporters Association will connect you with your local community and keep you in the loop.
Another important aspect of being a court reporter is remembering to keep your certification valid. The NCRA requires three continuing education credits on a three-year rolling basis in order to stay certified. The NVRA requires 30 credits on a three-year rolling basis. It is important that you meet these CE requirements and stay certified.
West Virginia Court Reporting Salary
Nationally, the field of court reporting is growing and producing more jobs. In West Virginia, the field of legal support workers, which includes court reporters, is projected to increase by 1.17% a year from 2010 through 2020 according to WORKFORCE West Virginia.
In particular, the city of Charleston is a good place to seek employment as a court reporter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012 it had the second highest concentration of court reporter jobs of any city in the nation. Over 90% of the state’s 120 court reporters were based out of it that year.
2013 salary information is available for court reporters who worked for the state, including stenographers. Their annual wages ranged from $27,732 to $51,312 a year. The state of West Virginia requires that its court reporters be certified and requires one of the following types of certification:
- National Court Reporters Association
- National Shorthand Reporters Association
- Supreme Court of Appeals
In addition to keeping court reporters on staff, the West Virginia Judiciary hires freelance court reporters on occasion such as for appeals to the state’s Supreme Court. Such court reporters frequently work for high-profile court reporting firms that contract out their services. Frequent clients for such firms include the following:
- Business that require documentation of their proceedings
- Video captioning so that people with impaired hearing can follow television and Internet broadcasts
Some of the court reporting firms that operate in West Virginia include those listed below:
- Meeks Reporting
- Merrill LAD
- Realtime Reporters, LLC
The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of the salaries of court reporters by percentile for 2012. The following table provides this information for the Washington metropolitan division that includes a portion of West Virginia: