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Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners

Summary

court reporters image
Court reporters attend legal proceedings to create word-for-word transcriptions.
Quick Facts: Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners
2019 Median Pay $60,130 per year
$28.91 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019 15,700
Job Outlook, 2019-29 9% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 1,400

What Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners Do

Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Simultaneous captioners provide similar transcriptions for television or for presentations in other settings, such as press conferences and business meetings, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Work Environment

Most court reporters work in courts or legislatures; simultaneous captioners may work from their home or a central office. Some court reporters and simultaneous captioners travel to other locations, such as meeting sites or public events.

How to Become a Court Reporter or Simultaneous Captioner

Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters and simultaneous captioners. These workers typically receive on-the-job training that varies by type of reporting or captioning. Many states require court reporters and simultaneous captioners who work in legal settings to have a state license or a certification from a professional association.

Pay

The median annual wage for court reporters was $60,130 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of court reporters and simultaneous captioners is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Those with training and experience in techniques such as real-time captioning and communication access real-time translation (CART) may have the best job prospects.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for court reporters and simultaneous captioners.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of court reporters and simultaneous captioners with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about court reporters and simultaneous captioners by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners Do About this section

Court reporters
Court reporters provide an accurate description of court proceedings.

Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, administrative hearings, and other legal proceedings. Simultaneous captioners provide similar transcriptions for television or for presentations in other settings, such as press conferences and business meetings, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Duties

Court reporters and simultaneous captioners typically do the following:

  • Attend depositions, hearings, proceedings, and other events that require verbatim transcripts
  • Capture spoken dialogue with special equipment, such as stenography machines and digital recording devices
  • Report speakers' identification, gestures, and actions
  • Read or play back portions of events or legal proceedings upon request
  • Ask speakers to clarify inaudible statements or testimony
  • Review notes they have taken, including the spelling of names and technical terminology
  • Provide copies of transcripts and recordings to the parties involved
  • Transcribe television or movie dialogue for the benefit of viewers
  • Provide real-time transcription of presentations in public forums for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

Court reporters have a critical role in legal proceedings, which require an exact record of what occurred. These workers are responsible for producing a complete, accurate, and secure transcript of depositions, trials, and other legal proceedings. The official record allows judges and lawyers to efficiently search for important information contained in the transcript. Court reporters also index and catalog exhibits used during legal proceedings.

Simultaneous captioners primarily serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing by transcribing speech to text as the speech occurs. They typically work in settings other than courtrooms or law offices.

The following are examples of types of simultaneous captioners:

Broadcast captioners provide transcriptions for television programs (called closed captions). They capture dialogue for displaying to television viewers, primarily those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some broadcast captioners may transcribe dialogue in real time during broadcasts; others caption during the program’s postproduction.

Communication access real-time translation (CART) providers work primarily with people who are deaf or hard of hearing during meetings, doctors’ appointments, and other situations requiring real-time transcription. For example, CART providers may caption the dialogue of college classes and present an immediate transcript to students who are learning English as a second language.

Although some simultaneous captioners accompany their clients to events, many broadcast captioners and CART providers do not. Establishing remote access allows these workers to hear and type dialogue without having to be physically present in the room.

Court reporters and simultaneous captioners turn dialogue into text for a variety of audiences. For information about workers who convey dialogue through sign language, cued speech, or other means to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, see the profile on interpreters and translators.

Court reporters and simultaneous captioners use different methods for recording speech, such as stenotype machines, steno masks, and digital recording devices.

Stenotype machines work like keyboards but create words through key combinations rather than single characters, allowing court reporters to keep up with fast-moving dialogue.

With steno masks, court reporters and simultaneous captioners speak directly into a covered microphone to record dialogue and to describe gestures and actions. Because the microphone is covered, others cannot hear what the reporter or captioner is saying.

Digital recording devices create an audio or video file rather than a written transcript. In addition to recording dialogue, court reporters and simultaneous captioners who use this equipment also take notes to identify the speakers and provide context for the recording. In some cases, they use the audio recording to create a written transcript.

Work Environment About this section

Court reporters
Court reporters may work in courtrooms or office buildings.

Court reporters held about 15,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of court reporters were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 33%
Business support services 30
State government, excluding education and hospitals 27
Self-employed workers 5

Most court reporters work in courts or legislatures. Many are self-employed (freelance) reporters who are hired by law firms or corporations for pretrial depositions and other events on an as-needed basis.

Some court reporters and simultaneous captioners travel to other locations, such as meeting sites or public events. Simultaneous captioners may work remotely from either their home or a central office.

Because of the speed and accuracy required to capture a verbatim record and the time-sensitive nature of legal proceedings, court reporting positions may be stressful.

Work Schedules

Court reporters and simultaneous captioners who work in a legal setting or office typically work full time recording events and preparing transcripts. Freelance reporters often have more flexibility in their work schedules.

How to Become a Court Reporter or Simultaneous Captioner About this section

Court reporters
Court reporters must give their full attention to the speaker and capture every word that is said.

Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters and simultaneous captioners. These workers typically on-the-job training; the length of training varies by type of reporting or captioning. Many states require court reporters and simultaneous captioners to have a state license or a certification from a professional association.

Education

Many court reporters and simultaneous captioners attend programs at community colleges or technical institutes that lead to either a certificate or an associate’s degree. Either credential qualifies applicants for many entry-level positions. Certification programs prepare students to pass the licensing exams and typing-speed tests required by most states and employers.

Most court reporting programs include courses in English grammar and phonetics, legal procedures, and legal terminology. Students also practice preparing transcripts to improve the speed and accuracy of their work.

Some schools also offer training in the use of different transcription equipment, such as stenotype machines or steno masks.

Completing a court reporting program typically takes 2 or 3 years.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many states require court reporters and simultaneous captioners to be licensed or certified by a professional association. Licensing requirements vary by state and by method of reporting or captioning.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers certification for court reporters and simultaneous captioners. Currently, about half of states accept or use the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification in place of a state certification or licensing exam.

Digital and voice reporters may obtain certification through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), which offers the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) designations.

Voice reporters also may obtain certification through the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA). As with the RPR designation, some states with certification or licensing requirements accept the NVRA designation in place of a state license.

Certification through the NCRA, AAERT, and NVRA all require the successful completion of a written test, as well as a skills test in which applicants must type, record, or transcribe a minimum number of words per minute with a high level of accuracy.

In addition, all associations require court reporters and simultaneous captioners to obtain a certain amount of continuing education credits in order to renew their certification.

For more information on certification, exams, and continuing education requirements, visit the specific association’s website. State licensing and continuing education requirements are available on the state association’s or state judicial agency's website.

Training

After completing their formal program, court reporters and simultaneous captioners must undergo on-the-job training. The length of training varies by type of reporting or captioning but typically includes training on the specific equipment and technical terminology that may be used during complex medical or legal proceedings.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners must be able to focus for long periods so that they remain attentive to the dialogue they are recording.

Detail oriented. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners must produce error-free work because they create transcripts that serve as legal records.

Listening skills. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners must give their full attention to speakers and capture every word that is said.

Writing skills. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners need a good command of grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation.

Pay About this section

Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners

Median annual wages, May 2019

Court reporters

$60,130

Legal support workers

$51,920

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for court reporters and simultaneous captioners was $60,130 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,570, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,210.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for court reporters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $68,020
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 63,700
Business support services 48,690

Freelance court reporters and simultaneous captioners typically charge an hourly rate; court reporters may also sell additional copies of the transcript, usually charging a set price per page.

Court reporters and simultaneous captioners who work in a legal setting or office typically work full time recording events and preparing transcripts. Freelance reporters often have more flexibility in their work schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Court reporters

9%

Legal support workers

7%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of court reporters and simultaneous captioners is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,400 new jobs over the decade. Demand for court reporters and simultaneous captioners will be influenced by federal regulations requiring an expanded use of captioning for television, the Internet, and other technologies. Employment growth may be affected, however, by budgetary constraints and the use of technology.

Reporters will increasingly be needed for captioning outside of legal proceedings. All new television programming will continue to need closed captioning. In addition, federal regulations have expanded captioning requirements and set quality and accuracy standards for both live and prerecorded programs. Networks will likely increase their use of broadcast captioners in order to comply with these federal regulations.

Growth of the elderly population also will increase demand for simultaneous captioners who are communication access real-time translation (CART) providers or who can accompany their clients to doctor’s appointments, town hall meetings, and religious services. In addition, movie theaters and sports stadiums will provide closed captioning for attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing.

However, employment growth may be somewhat limited because of budgetary constraints in state and local governments. In addition, the increased use of digital audio recording technology may hinder employment growth. Some states already have replaced stenographic court reporters with this technology; other states are currently assessing the reliability, accuracy, and costs associated with installing and maintaining digital audio and video equipment and software.

Even with the increased use of digital recorders, however, electronic reporters should still be needed to monitor the courtroom equipment and to transcribe, verify, and supervise the production of transcripts after proceedings have been recorded.

Job Prospects

About 1,400 openings for court reporters and simultaneous captioners are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Job prospects should be best for graduates of court reporting programs and for candidates with experience and training in CART and real-time captioning.

Employment projections data for court reporters and simultaneous captioners, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Court reporters and simultaneous captioners

27-3092 15,700 17,000 9 1,400 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of court reporters and simultaneous captioners.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2019 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Interpreters and translators

Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language.

Bachelor's degree $51,830
Medical transcriptionists

Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports.

Postsecondary nondegree award $33,380

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information on becoming a court reporter or simultaneous captioner, including information on training programs and certification as a Registered Professional Reporter, visit

National Court Reporters Association

For more information on certification and legal resources, as well as becoming an electronic or digital reporter, visit

American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers

For more information on voice writing and certification, visit

National Verbatim Reporters Association

O*NET

Court Reporters

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/court-reporters.htm (visited January 23, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Friday, December 4, 2020

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.