A court reporter works at a courthouse and records everything said during court hearings, proceedings, speeches, and generally any important event that occurs in the court. The reporter transcribes participants’ speech into written words using a typewriter or computer (in more recent times), or some more specialized pieces of equipment known as stenotype machines, which are designed to make the task of recording speech easier. A court reporter may also record the events in the courtroom using a voice recorder, providing a personal transcription of every word.
Getting a job as a court reporter doesn’t require any special qualifications, and having a high school degree is usually enough. Excellent typing skills are a requirement, on the other hand – not just speed is taken into consideration, but accuracy as well. Court reporters must have a very high WPM (words per minute) rate when typing, while minimizing mistakes. In some cases, a specialized license may be required to work as a court reporter (such a license can be obtained after passing certain tests).
A court reporter can earn between $36,000 and $60,000 a year, depending on the court of their employment and their particular typing/transcribing skills. Some of the more experienced and faster-typing court reporters can earn salaries of up to $80,000/year, though the prospects for going higher than that depend on the specific circumstances of employment (and aren’t really frequent either, as most court reporters have reported rarely climbing above that mark in their careers).