Essential Court Reporting Skills

Accurate, punctual, adaptable, intelligent, professional. What do these adjectives have in common? They all describe the necessary qualities of a court reporter. With this thought in mind, we thought it would be interesting to explore which personal characteristics lead to the best court reporters and which fields of study can assist in developing these skills.

  1. Excellent Vocabulary and Strong Grasp of Grammar Rules
  2. Acquiesce, bourgeoisie, idiosyncrasy, maelstrom; this is just a sample of some words you might come across in a court room, business meeting or government hearing. As a court reporter you have to instantaneously recognize, process, and spell these tricky terms while continuing to keep up with the ongoing dialogue in the room. Knowing you’re grammar rules helps to. (If you caught the errors in that last sentence, you might make a good court reporter).

    Recommended Fields of Study: Liberal Arts including English Studies, Literature, History, Creative Writing

  3. Above-Average Computer Skills
  4. There aren’t too many jobs left that don’t require at least some computer/tech knowledge, and court reporting is no exception. Electronic recording in particular, relies on a court reporter’s proficiency with various computer programs and the ability to quickly troubleshoot problems if something goes wrong. Knowing your megabytes from your megaphones can go a long way in determining your success as a court reporter.

    Recommended Fields of Study: Computer Science, Information Systems

  5. Ability to Concentrate for Long Periods of Time
  6. An eight hour meeting on the proper height of trees at City Hall, a six hour discussion on the benefits of jean shorts, a two-day hearing on the correct way to make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich – you just never know what kind of topics you might be covering as a court reporter. No matter how prosaic the subject matter may appear, it’s crucial that a court reporter pay diligent attention for the entire length of the proceedings. A wandering attention span, even for a few seconds, can lead to an inaccurate transcript.

    Recommended Fields of Study: Philosophy, Psychology

  7. Basic Knowledge of the Court System
  8. In many depositions, court reporters act as the only presiding official and must swear in witnesses and mark exhibits. Knowing the intricacies and rhythm of a court room is highly beneficial in performing these tasks. Knowledge of court protocol also aids a reporter’s anticipation of when the next individual will speak in a courtroom.

    Recommend Fields of Study: Criminal Justice, Pre-Law

  9. A Great Sense of Hearing and Knowledge of Audio Equipment
  10. Court reporting is probably not the best career choice for your geriatric uncle Frank who can only speak in a dull roar and asks you to repeat every other sentence. An astute sense of hearing and the ability to distinguish multiple voices (especially when participants speak at the same time!) from one another is a key aspect of the court reporting profession. Digital court reporting also involves different types of audio equipment, including mixers and microphones. Knowing this equipment inside and out will lead to the best recordings and thus the most accurate transcripts.

    Recommended Fields of Study: Music, Audio Engineering