If you are looking to succeed as a court reporter, there are a couple actions you can take that might increase your chances. Of course, there are certainly more than three things you can do to before and during school to help you, so feel free to do further research. But know that by carefully weighing your decision about where to go to school and taking appropriate action to enhance your skills during your studies, you certainly won’t be hurting your chances for success!
Decide What Kind of Court Reporter You Want to Be
A lot of people think of judicial court reporters when they think of this profession, but that’s not the only option out there. Some people who go to court reporting school do decide to work in the judicial system, but others find jobs transcribing events, conferences, or meetings; working as a caption writer, performing CART functions for individuals, or working as a freelance transcriber. It is important to consider this even before you have decided where you want to go to school because it will influence what institution you decide to attend. Based on your ideal future career, you may choose to attend a program that more specifically focuses on one aspect of court reporting, such as CART/captioning, transcription editing, or stenotype theory. You may also consider specific classes offered. For instance, if you want to work in the court system, it would be a good idea to attend a school that offers a comprehensive class on legal terminology. Your career aspirations may also affect what length of program in which you enroll. Some stenotype and CART programs are longer, so you may need to make accommodations to earn an associate’s degree if you want to work in a field using one of the two type of technologies.
Go to an Accredited Institution
Accreditations are very important to students wishing to receive a high quality education. An accreditation is one way of a school communicating to you and its other students that its programs live up to the standards set forth by individual accrediting commissions, as well as the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditations may be awarded from a general school council, or by a commission related to a specific field or subfield. You may also choose to go to a school that has received a special certification in the area of court reporting. Examples of awarding bodies are The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the National Court Reporters Association.
Build Your Vocabulary
One of the important skills you will need to become a court reporter is a diverse vocabulary. This is so that, as you record and/or transcribe conversations, you will have a keen understanding of what is being said so that you can accurately spell words, edit transcripts, and annotate scripts if necessary. Although you will likely have at least one English and/or Communications class built into your official curriculum for this purpose, it doesn’t hurt to partake in exercises outside of the classroom. You might play word games, peruse helpful dictionary or reference websites, do crossword puzzles or read from a variety of genres. The more you expose yourself to words, the more likely you are to absorb their meanings, spellings, and various uses. This practice, if performed regularly, could greatly enhance your success both in the classroom and after you graduate.