Court reporters have a front row seat to what's going on inside the nation's courtrooms. Because they transcribe court proceedings word-for-word, they must pay close attention. Some court reporters also provide captioning for television programs or public-speaking engagements. The average annual wage for court reporters as of May 2010 was $47,000, or $22.93 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to a high school diploma, many court reporters obtain post-secondary training at a community colleges or a technical institute. Training varies based on the transcription method used. A student can expect to complete training in steno masks and digital recording in about six months. Students typically earn a certificate of completion for a steno mask program. Stenography programs, which require the use of a stenotype machines, take between two to four years to complete. Graduates typically receive an associate degree. Courses in both types of programs include grammar, legal procedures and courtroom terminology.
Rate Per Page
Each state sets its own rate per page for court reporters. Among the 33 states listed on the website National Center for State Courts, the least court reporters were paid per page was $1.50 and the most was $4.10. Among 11 states the rates were as follows Alabama, $3.50; Arkansas, $4.10; Colorado, $2.35; Connecticut, $3.00; Washington, D.C., $3.65; Delaware, $3.00; Georgia, $3.78; Hawaii, $3.25; Idaho, $3.25; Kansas, $2.75 and Wisconsin, $1.50.
Most states also pay court reporters a per page fee for photocopying. The rate per page for court reporters differs by state. For example, in Oregon, the rate is $.25, in Michigan, it's $.30, in North Dakota, it's $.35, in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey and Wisconsin, it's $.50; in South Carolina, it's $.75; in West Virginia, it's $1.00 and in Hawaii and Massachusetts, it's $1.50.
The BLS projects job growth to increase by 14 percent for court reporters through 2020, which is the same as for all surveyed occupations. The BLS indicates demand for court reporters will increase outside the courtroom due to new federal legislation requiring Internet captioning. Court reporters will also be in demand to supply captioning for new television programs and Internet broadcasts. As the baby boomer generation ages, more court reporters will be needed to provide real-time captioning.