Transcribers are the link between spoken word testimony and hard-copy records of the information. While some transcribers are also called court reporters, professionals in the field work in a number of industries including large businesses, nonprofit organizations and any other companies needing voice-to-machine transcription. Working off computers, laptops and specialty transcription devices called stenotypes, transcribers translate their way to their salaries.
Transcribers typed their way to an annual salary across the country, averaging $52,460, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 wages study. Transcribers employed by all branches of the government fared slightly better than the median. The top-paying industry, local government, offered an annual mean wage of $56,570. State government and the federal executive branch were not far behind, offering $54,330 and $54,150, respectively.
Transcriptionists may have averaged $52,460 per year in 2009, but those employed in certain states fared much higher. Transcribers in Oregon nearly doubled the national average at $100,590 per year, almost $20,000 higher than any other state in the country. Still much higher than the rest of the country, New York paid its transcribers an annual mean wage of $80,920, with Colorado at $78,300 and California at $77,780.
Securing a salary as a transcriber requires more than the ability to listen and type at the same time. Some transcribers are taught on the job or through one of more than 60 college programs accredited by the National Court Reporters Association. Students seeking Association certification must type at a speed of 225 or more words per minute, which is also required by transcribers for the federal government. Each state has differing requirements for transcriptionists. Prospective transcribers may pursue certifications to separate themselves from the typing pack such as Certified Verbatim Reporter, Real-Time Verbatim Reporter, Certified Broadcast Captioner, Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Electronic Court Reporter and Transcriber and Certified Court Reporter.
Transcribers seeking salaries will find themselves in a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 18 percent rise in employment through 2018, an increase of 3,900 jobs. Transcribers will benefit from federal legislation requiring television programming to be captioned for deaf audiences along with the Americans with Disabilities Act providing real-time translation in college campuses. The BLS recommends prospective transcribers seek employment in rural areas, which often lack transcription applicants.
2018 Salary Information for Court Reporters
Court reporters earned a median annual salary of $57,150 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, court reporters earned a 10th percentile salary of $36,870, meaning 90 percent earned more than this amount. The 90th percentile salary is $72,400, meaning 10 percent earn more. In 2018, 15,700 people were employed in the U.S. as court reporters.