Differences Between a Transcriber and a Court Reporter

If you’re considering attending court reporter school, you may be wondering how becoming a court reporter differs from pursuing a career as transcriber. Both jobs involve working in the legal field, but the tasks and training are very different. Here is a look at the difference between becoming a court reporter in New York City and becoming a transcriber.

Job Duties

Transcribers work with attorneys to create hard copies of dictation. A dictation is provided as a recording, and the transcriber works from the recording, rewinding as needed, to make the physical copies. Court reporters also take a form of dictation, but the conditions are very different. They work in courtrooms taking down testimony during a trial as it is occurring and then make hard copy transcripts of the proceedings. The transcripts created by court reporters are part of the legal record, so there is no room for error. In some cases, court reporters may also transcribe depositions for attorneys as they prepare for trial.


Court reporters must attend a court reporter school that is certified by the American Court Reporters Association. Court reporting school takes two to four years to complete. For transcribers, there are school programs that last between one and two years, but not all transcribers attend school. Some enter the field via another legal career, such as a legal secretary. When in school, both transcribers and court reporters learn the legal technology and procedures they will need to know on the job, but court reporters also learn to use a steno machine, an important tool in their work.


Steno machines, or stenographs, let court reporters use a special type of shorthand that is translated into actual words. This lets them keep up with fast-paced courtroom dialogue. Transcribers use headsets, transcription machines, and computers, so they can listen and re-listen to information as needed.