With shortages of qualified court reporters due to the baby boomers’ retirement from the workforce and the abundance of litigations, the opportunities appear to be endless for a qualified New York court reporter. It seems that the only difficult part of working as an NY court reporter is becoming one. But it’s well worth the effort! To become an NY court reporter you must:
- Attend a court reporter program at a recognized, accredited (National Court Reporters Association [NCRA] and Department of Education) school
- Find a job in New York as a freelance or official court reporter.
- Earn the required continuing education credits every 3 years.
In addition, you could take the New York Voluntary Certified Shorthand Exam in order to get New York State certification…certification always looks good!
Let’s Go to Work!
So, you’ve completed your education, you’ve passed the exam and you are working as an NY court reporter. Congratulations! You’ve got one of the most sought-after jobs in the trendiest city in the world! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor (BLS), there are many different components to a court reporter’s job.
Report Exactly What Happened in Court
These include the transfer of spoken words to readable text, a service that is needed in several industries (like the medical field, for example), in addition to judicial court reporting. In the courtroom setting, a NY court reporter records, word-for-word (verbatim), everything that is said during the judicial proceedings, whether they are hearings or actual trials.
With that being said, it is necessary for NY court reporters to attend judicial depositions/hearings, both in-court and onsite. Sometimes an attorney requests an official deposition (question-and-answer session) be recorded for the record. The deposition may take place in a conference room, in the courthouse or elsewhere. In cases such as these, freelance court reporters are usually requested for this type of service.
Operate Special Equipment
It’s important that a court reporter in New York has the ability to operate specialized equipment including stenography machines, as well as video/audio recording devices.
Describe the Speaker’s Behaviors
Describing a speaker’s gestures and actions accurately (and quickly) is a main component of a NY court reporter’s job. If a witness screams his words, waves his hands or jumps up and loudly exclaims something, you need to be able to record those actions, too.
Read Back Real-Time Responses to the Judge
Another important aspect of a NY court reporter’s job is that they need to be able to read back, in real-time, what you have written for clarification to the judge or others. If a question arises, the judge may request you read back what you have just typed or refer back to an earlier statement you recorded in the proceedings. You must be able to calmly and efficiently read back the text without emphasizing any words. How you read-back could actually sway what the jurors hear.
Prepare and Edit Transcripts
NY court reporters need to be able to prepare and edit transcripts. At the end of the proceeding, you will prepare an official transcript for the court’s records and make copies for the judge(s) and attorneys who have requested them.
Attend Live Events
Part of a NY court reporter’s job is attending live events that need real-time transcripts of records or real-time translations for the hearing impaired.
Some court reporters take additional training and pursue education and certification to become closed captioners, another career that is highly in-demand at this time. Real-time closed captioning often requires speeds over 200 wpm. Another name for this profession is “stenocaptioner,” because stenographic skills and education are required.
Transcribe Movie Dialogue
Another profession NY court reports can look into is transcribing movie dialogue and televised programs for the hearing impaired. Pre-recorded closed captioning can be done right from your home office, if you have the right equipment.
A NY Court Reporter’s Equipment
A stenographer uses a stenograph machine that has 22 keys. The machine records and prints condensed, shorthand-form symbols that are translated by the stenograph machine’s computer. Other recording devices are often used by court reporters.
You are the Keeper of Life-Changing Information
Basic descriptions of a court reporter’s job are accurate, but they just don’t capture some of the finer nuances of day-to-day life as a NY court reporter. As you will learn, you will be entrusted with extremely delicate and important information. Some of that information can impact the lives and security of many people, even thousands or millions in certain cases. The people for whom you work will trust you to be discreet. If you’ve never been one of those people who could “keep a secret,” now’s the time for you to learn.
Your Skills and Dedication are Valued
Just as in any other profession, your reputation for good work and dependability will play an important role in getting jobs. Once attorneys, judges and other judicial representatives learn that your skills are top-notch, you’ll have a better chance at landing the jobs you want, when you want them.
Court reporters have excellent time management skills, and a court reporter needs to be able to work efficiently in a high-pressure environment. You should be organized and have above-average communication skills.
In addition to being accurate at recording and transcribing material (especially in real-time), your turnaround time for delivering transcripts will be noted. The ability to provide transcripts and copies when needed will also contribute to your reputation as a NY Court Reporter.