The importance of court reporters in Wisconsin should not be underestimated. Take a recent case for example. A Wisconsin man was convicted of killing his parents in 2011 after subsequently pleading guilty to the crime. In 2013 the man appealed his conviction, claiming that police lacked a search warrant when they found the bodies of his slain parents. The Wisconsin Appeals Court denied his appeal after simply reviewing the court record, including the court report without the need for an additional costly trial.
Because court reporters in Wisconsin deal with such sensitive information, and make records that could be used in high stakes cases, including murder cases, they must be highly focused individuals who pay close attention to detail. Also, because certain information in a court procedure may be proprietary, classified, or otherwise guarded, a Wisconsin court reporter must maintain the strictest confidentiality.
In order to work as a freelance court reporter in the state of Wisconsin there is no certification requirements, only the need to get the right education. However, to work as an employee of the Wisconsin court system, there are applicable certification requirements.
In order to become a court reporter in the state of Wisconsin you must:
|Graduate from an Accredited School|
|Become Certified by the NCRA or NVRA|
|Find Employment as a Court Reporter in Wisconsin|
|Join Local and National Associations and Maintain Licensure|
Becoming a court reporter in Wisconsin assures an exciting career that offers job security, good pay, and a real challenge. Court reporters in Wisconsin are used in two ways:
- By the court system to document court proceedings
- Away from court in private practice to record legal proceedings such as depositions
Step 1. Graduate from a NCRA or NVRA Accredited School
The only way to qualify to become a court reporter in Wisconsin is to enroll in a one of the court reporting schools in the state that offer programs necessary to develop the skills needed to perform the job. Choose a court reporter program that has been accredited by either the National Court Reporters Association or the National Verbatim Reporters Association.
These court reporter schools offer programs that include courses in:
- Legal and Medical Terminology
- Machine Shorthand Theory
- Grammar and Punctuation
- Courtroom Procedures
- Transcript Preparation
It is a good idea to get additional certifications in order to continue to increase your skill set. It is important to note that both the NCRA and the NVRA offer three levels of certification, with the base-level certification needed to gain employment with the court system. However, in Wisconsin’s competitive job market, higher certifications may help make the difference in landing a job.
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 2. Become Certified by the NCRA or NVRA
To become certified to work in the courts of Wisconsin is to become certified directly by the NVRA or NCRA:
- If you are looking to go into the field of voice reporting look into the Certified Verbatim Reporter by the NVRA.
- If you are looking to go into the field of shorthand or stenography, the Registered Professional Reporter certification by the NCRA will be better for you.
Click here to go to a list of programs accredited by the NCRA
Click here to go to a list of programs accredited by the NVRA
Step 3. Find Employment as a Court Reporter in Wisconsin
Once you have obtained your certification it is time to look for work. Generally work as a court reporter is divided into two fields, working in the private sector, and working for the state’s judiciary.
Some companies in the private sector that you may contact for work include:
In order to seek employment with the state’s judiciary, consider applying with the following courts:
- Wisconsin Municipal Courts
- Wisconsin Court of Appeals
- Wisconsin Circuit Courts
- Wisconsin Supreme Court
Step 4. Join Local and National Associations and Maintain Licensure
It is a good idea to join with local and national court reporters associations. Do this in order to stay informed as to what is happening in the field of court reporting, network with other court reporters, and even look for employment. The best national association to join would be the one through which you were certified.
You will also want to join a local association. In Wisconsin the primary local court reporters association is the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association. This association offers members help in finding employment.
Finally, it is important to maintain your licensure. Both the NVRA and the NCRA have requirements with respect to continuing education.
Click here to see the NVRA continuing education requirements
Click here to see the NCRA continuing education requirements.
Wisconsin Court Reporting Salary
The field of court reporting is growing at a high rate in Wisconsin according to Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development. It projects a10.2% increase in the number of jobs in the ten year period leading up to 2020.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on the 2012 salaries of the 110 court reporters and stenographers who worked in Wisconsin that year. It is shown below:
According to the state’s Workforce Development department, the median wage for court reporters in Wisconsin in 2010 was $53,200.
As with most states, the state of Wisconsin Court System is a major employer of court reporters. They hire both traditional court reporters and those who work with digital audio recording equipment. Applicants are required to meet one of the following three standards:
- Graduation from an approved court reporting school
- Successful completion of one of the following exams:
- Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
- Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR)
In addition, the judicial administrative districts contract separately for freelance court reporters. They maintain a list of potential court reporters. Certification is not required for these positions, but professionals who have obtained certification are paid a higher rate. The daily pay for freelance reporters for these districts in 2013 is as follows:
- $203 with certification
Private court reporting firms are another significant source of employment for court reporters in Wisconsin. They retain such professionals to serve businesses and attorneys that require verbatim transcripts or closed captioning of broadcasts.
The BLS provides a detailed analysis of the salaries of all court reporters in areas of Wisconsin in the following table: