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Can a Felon Become a Court Reporter?

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Getting a job after their release from prison is quite challenging for felons. Felons may think no one will hire them, but there are resources available. Those who have hired felons have learned that they make good employees, but it might be in a different career from one felons had previously.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a court reporter.

  • What is a Court Reporter?
  • What Education/Training Does a Court Reporter Need?
  • How Much Does a Court Reporter Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Court Reporter?

A court reporter prepares a word-for-word transcript of a court proceeding, including trials, depositions, hearings, and other legal matters. A court reporter’s duties include the following:

  • Attends depositions, hearings, proceedings, and other events that require written transcripts
  • Records spoken speech with video and audio recording devices, and microphones
  • Reports speakers’ words, gestures, and actions
  • Reads back a record of the proceedings upon request from the judge
  • Asks speakers to clarify inaudible or unclear statements or testimony
  • Reviews the notes they have taken, including the names of speakers and any technical terms
  • Provides copies of transcripts and recordings to the courts and attorneys

A court reporter has an essential role in legal proceedings requiring a verbatim record. They are responsible for producing a complete, accurate, and secure legal transcript of courtroom proceedings, witnesses’ testimonies, and depositions.

A court reporter must have many skills to be successful:

  • Detail-oriented to accurately create transcripts that serve as legal records
  • Listening skills listen closely to speakers and record every word
  • Writing skills for a knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation
  • Organizational skills to manage witnesses and testimony
  • Time management skills to complete transcripts promptly
  • Knowledge of grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Assertiveness to ask witnesses to speak clearly

What Education/Training Does a Court Reporter Need?

A court reporter must have some kind of education from a court-reporting school offering a certificate or associate degree. Graduating from a court-reporting program can take between two and five years. A court reporter is usually required to be licensed. Gaining some on-the-job training is also beneficial for a court reporter. Having a degree allows a candidate to work in high-level courts.

Regardless of the level, certification is an important part of training. The National Court Reporter’s Association (NCRA) provides certification by taking an exam that tests written knowledge and skills. About half of states accept the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification instead of a state certificate or licensing exam.

Many community colleges and technical institutes offer certificate programs for court reporters. Many states require court reporters that work in legal settings to be licensed by a state or certified by a professional association.

Many candidates receive formal education at a community colleges or technical institutes with programs resulting in either a certificate or an associate’s degree in court reporting. Either degree will qualify applicants for most entry-level positions. Certification programs prepare students to pass the licensing exams and typing tests required by most employers.

Most court reporting programs offer courses in English grammar and phonetics, and legal procedures and terms along with preparing transcripts to improve the speed and accuracy of their transcription.

How Much Does a Court Reporter Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 19,600 court reporters. This occupation is expected to show a 3% growth by 2026 which is lower than average. The median salary for a court reporter in 2016 was $51,320 annually. The median is that salary which half of the court reporters receive more than and half receive less.

Geographic location, certification, and experience could have a significant impact on these earnings. A court reporter on the East or West coast as well as in the Southwest region of the U.S. typically receives a higher salary than for one working in other areas.

An Opportunity for Felons?

A felon can pursue any college degree he or she wants. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there is no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree can find a college that will accept him or her. A felon may have difficulty getting accepted into many schools, but there are programs that will accept a felon.

It is important to be honest when applying for certification as a court reporter. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful as a court reporter it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a court reporter. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to become a court reporter. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a court reporter with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

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