California’s Requirements for Becoming a Court Reporter
CSR school programs are three to four years in length. Self-paced, challenging courses necessitate self-discipline and a high level of motivation. The curriculum is primarily skills-based, and practice helps students achieve the required speed levels for the licensing exam, which requires 200 words per minute with a 97.5 percent accuracy rate. There is also academic homework to be completed to get your court reporter certification.
Certification establishes that certified court reporters possess a minimum set of skills, assuring legal professionals and the general public that they will act fairly and ethically to all parties in litigation, whether through the states or the NCRA.
So, for a while, court reporting school is a full-time job. The following are the minimum graduation requirements for a court reporter certification:
- English – 240 Hours Required
- Legal – 150 Hours Required
- Medical – 120 Hours Required
- Transcript Preparation & Procedures – 25 Hours Required
- Resource Materials – 5 Hours Required
- Apprentice Training – 60 Hours Required
- Technology – 60 Hours Required
- Total minimum Prescribed Academic Hours – 660 Hours Required
- Total Machine Shorthand & Transcription Hours – 2330 Hours Required
How to Choose Which Court Reporter Certification School Is Right for You
Do your homework before enrolling in a program to get your court reporter certification. Begin by speaking with prospective school personnel, particularly admissions counselors. Smaller schools that do not have this role may connect you with a real teacher. Here are a few questions to consider:
- How long can a full-time or part-time student expect to be enrolled? Is this true for both students who started the program from the beginning and those who transferred in?
- How much does it cost to attend this school, including tuition, books, supplies, and the purchase of a machine? What types of financial assistance are available?
- How many tests are required at each speed level to advance to the next speed level?
- At this school, how long should it take to progress through each speed level? According to their students’ records, each school should provide a detailed chart of the approximate time it should take to progress in each speed class. Based on actual data from students’ records, the chart should identify the average length of time it takes at that school.
- How many students were sent to the CSR exam last year, and how many of them passed? What happened the previous year?
- What are the dropout and transfer-out rates at the school?
- Is this school accredited and recognized?
- During the school year, how many weekdays is this school closed? (Missed days lengthen the time it takes to complete your degree.)
- Does this school offer live dictation for how many hours per week?
- Is there a graduate placement program at this school? If that’s the case, what percentage of graduates fare placed after obtaining their California driver’s license?
After Court Reporter Certification School
The first step is to enroll in a court-reporting school that is approved by the state. The second step is to take the three-part licensing exam once you’re finished. If you are moving to California from another state and have a valid CSR license, you can take the exam right away. If you have appropriate work experience, you can also skip the court reporting school requirement and take the exam directly. To work as a court reporter in California, you must pass a three-part licensing exam. This three-part licensing exam includes a state examination, a Dictation and Transcription Exam, and a written exam. If you’d like to learn more about the role of court reporters and the tasks they perform, be sure to explore the California Deposition Reporters website.
The Advantages of Court Reporter Certification
Currently, 26 states require court reporters to be certified (some only require official court reporters to be certified), while eight states allow certification to be done on a voluntary basis. Even in states where certification is not required, many court reporters choose to do so because it allows them to demonstrate to others that they have a specific set of skills. It can also be used as a marketing tool. Even when moving from one state to the next, court reporters with national certification from the NCRA often find it easier to find new work. For example, 22 states now recognize the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification as equivalent to — and can be used in place of — state certification or licensing exams.