A lot of the knowledge you need to be a court reported can be learned during your time in school. That being said, there are certain skills that you will either have to develop on your own or hope you are gifted with naturally! These include the ability to concentrate, how well you pick up on small details, how strong a listener you are, and how talented you are when it comes to writing.
As a court reporter, you will need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time. It is important that you keep your mind focused on what you are doing, even if there are a lot of distractions. As you are recording, there may be outbursts or side conversations going on that could pull your attention away from your work. If you miss something important, the parties involved may miss out on vital details. You will also need to be able to concentrate while you assist judges and trial attorneys by organizing official records. You will need to be diligent and able to hunt for small details without losing focus.
Attention to Detail
In addition to being able to concentrate, you will need to have the ability to pay attention to small details. The transcript you create will serve as a legal record, so there can’t be any mistakes. Because it is sometimes difficult to keep up with what others are saying using court reporting equipment, there are bound to be some mistakes. After you finish the recording you will have to go back over the transcript and meticulously comb through it to edit for even minor errors. If you are detail-oriented, this will also help you when you organize records, as you will be able to find errors and call attention to parts for which the attorney or judge has asked you to make note.
This may seem like an obvious one, but it is very important! You have to be able to give your full attention to the person speaking and pick up on every word that is said. If you frequently find yourself zoning out during conversations with friends and/or unable to remember the details of a conversation as they are being spoken, this might not be the career for you. The conversations you record might not always be the most interesting, but you cannot stop listening. You should be able to pick up multiple parts of a conversation at once and detect multiple lines of speech if two or more people start to speak at the same time.
You need to have a strong command of the language being spoken in order to successfully be a court reporter. This means that you should understand all the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You should also have a well-developed vocabulary so you can keep up with what is being said and understand complicated meanings. The more accurate your transcribing is during the initial event, the less you will have to edit later. But when you do return to the script to make edits, you will need to be 100% accurate. These scripts are used for a variety of things and are often considered legal documents that are used in court, so any mistakes you make could have serious consequences.