Frequently Asked Questions
The IITCR is hopeful the following questions and answers will provide advice on a variety of subjects related to our Digital Court Reporter and Legal (Digital) Transcriptionist courses and our institute.
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What are the job opportunities?
This is a very high demand industry. The U.S News & World Reports on the best careers of 2011. Bloomberg’s Business Week indicates the career of a court reporter as one of the top 10 careers. He indicates the median salary being $52,460 USD. As well, he states, “Surprisingly, more than 70 percent of those in the profession work outside the courtroom, according to the National Court Reporters Assn. Many court reporters are self-employed. The profession requires great listening skills…and (we’re conjecturing here) an ability to keep one’s face immobile while people are saying outlandish and sordid things.”
According to the Government of Canada, Job Futures, the jobs with the best prospects “will come from science and engineering, health and caring, and law. An aging workforce…will boost demand for legal professionals. It never hurts to work in an in-demand field, if the stability and income potential helps round out the rest of your life.” (Quoted from BCjobs.ca)
At Payscale, http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Legal_Word_Processor/Salary, you will see the average income is between $59,464 a year for Legal Transcriptionists. Since legal transcription is a newer career path, it is not tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics yet. According to Payscale, legal word processors or legal transcribers work from home.
Graduates of the Digital Court Reporter Course may find employment in the following areas:
- Federal Government (Federal Courts)
- State/Provincial Government (State/Provincial Courts)
- Municipal Government (Traffic Courts)
- Official Examiner’s Offices
- Court Reporting Firms
Graduates of the Legal (Digital) Transcriptionist Course may find employment in the following areas:
- Court Reporting Services
- Federal Governments
- State/Provincial Governments
- Municipal Governments
- Official Examiner’s Offices
- Private Transcription Service Offices
- Law Offices
What is a Digital Court Reporter?
If you have always wanted to be an integral part of the legal system and make major contributions, the profession as a digital court reporter is a great option! As a digital court reporter, your job entails that you record legal proceedings, conversations, speeches, and other legal proceedings held in and outside the courtroom.
Court reporting can be performed in various different ways. Some courts and private court reporting firms still use analogue tape recording machines. The court reporter using this method is called a monitor. Another method is the stenographic method; the type of court reporting you would have likely seen portrayed on television. Voice writing is another type of court reporting. In this method, the court reporter speaks into a mask with a microphone attached to it. As the court proceedings are carried out, the reporter repeats the words into the mask.
Electronic or digital reporting is another type of court reporting and is currently the most widely used method in the world. In this method, a digital recording device (computer) is used to record proceedings and is supervised by the digital court reporter. The digital court reporter makes annotations (log notes) identifying speakers and noting important aspects of the case. They also ensure the recordings show high quality and clarity.
The job market is “hot” in that there are plenty of jobs as the demand is greater than the availability of trained professionals.
Many companies that hire digital court reporters require them to have a solid understanding of legal terminology, a thorough command of the English language, and good keyboarding skills. They tend to gravitate toward individuals who have graduated from the Digital Court Reporter Course offered at the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters and are certified.
What is a Legal Transcriptionist?
Legal transcription has come into the public view recently and is being recognized for its efficient and professional influence on legal records and is steadily becoming a popular trend in the legal field.
Legal transcriptionists, much like their counterparts in the medical field, listen to dictations from legal professionals and court reporters and type them into documents. Most legal transcriptionists work from home, transcribing testimony, interrogations, court hearings, and pleadings.
Some legal transcriptionists work for larger court reporting firms, private practice attorneys who have a large number of cases, and court reporters. They are also widely used by large corporations, governmental departments, insurance companies, and banks that all have a need for more accurate legal records.
Legal transcriptionists are also hired by companies that choose to outsource the work for lower costs and increased quality. By outsourcing, companies will generally have a quicker turnaround rate because they are dividing jobs across the board rather than giving them all to one particular person. Many other businesses look to legal transcriptionists because they have a better understanding of the law and the English language.
The job market is unique in that there is little competition and plenty of jobs. This fact is due to the overwhelming need for accurate legal transcripts.
Many companies that hire legal transcriptionists require them to have a solid understanding of legal terminology. They should have impeccable grammar and a good command of the English language. They tend to gravitate toward individuals who have graduated from the Legal Transcriptionist Course at the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters and are certified by the AAERT (Please see the page on Professional Certification.
As a Legal Transcriptionist, you will prepare transcripts from the audio recorded by court reporters during legal proceedings. Legal transcriptionists are steadily becoming permanent fixtures in law firm and government department payrolls, and the need for their services will likely continue to grow even more.
What is the basic training I need?
The amount of training required to become a digital court reporter or a legal transcriptionist varies. Here at the IITCR, your courses are conveniently taken via distance education, online, and at your own comfortable pace. You have the option of taking our ten module Digital Court Reporter Course or our six module Legal Transcriptionist Course.
How long will it take?
Most digital court reporters and legal transcriptionists learn their skills by taking one of our convenient online courses. Currently, the only online course for digital court reporters and legal transcriptionists is offered here at the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters. Our Digital Court Reporter Course is designed to be taken over the period of 10 to 15 weeks. Our Legal Transcriptionist Course is designed to be taken over the period of 6 to 10 weeks.
Electronic/digital court reporters use state of the art digital audio-capture technology and, therefore, learn their skills via convenient online courses with the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters.
The average length of time it takes to become a steno-typist (machine writer) is 36 months. Training is offered by post-secondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. This method of court reporting requires keyboarding speed and accuracy at a rate of 250 words per minute.
The average length of time it takes to become a voice-writer is 18 months. Training has been offered by post-secondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. This method of court reporting requires the ability of listening carefully, identifying a speaker and repeating every word that is said at a rate of 250 words per minute or more.
As we offer the only online legal transcriptionist course in the world, we believe it will take six weeks to be trained for this career.
Will I need on-the-job training?
Once hired, a digital court reporter or legal transcriptionist will likely read employer-specific manuals, reviewing them with their assigned mentors, and observe skilled digital court reporters and transcriptionists perform their duties.
Digital court reporters and legal transcriptionists generally obtain initial technical training from the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters and when placed in service further employer-specific training is provided on the job.
If working for a private company or organization, further hands-on training occurs under direct supervision of an established practitioner or firm.
What about professional Licensing?
Digital court reporters and legal transcriptionists are strongly encouraged by the IITCR to write professional certification examinations consisting of spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, legal terminology and digital transcription that test for verbatim accuracy with either the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers or the International Alliance of Professional Reporters and Transcribers. Both of these certifications are recognized in the United States, Canada, and around the world.
In the U.S., some states require court reporters to be notary publics. Some may require the court reporter to pass a state test administered by a board of examiners. In addition, some states require professional certification.
In Canada, after one full year of court reporting experience, most reporters are required to be commissioner of oaths so that they are authorized to swear/affirm witnesses during examinations under oath. This is an appointment applied for by the court reporter and designated by the Attorney General for the particular province. In addition, a professional certification is required for most court reporters and legal transcriptionists.
What about Certification and advancement?
Professional Certification can help digital court reporters and legal transcriptionists obtain employment and advance in their careers. Although voluntary, the designation is recognized as a mark of distinction in the field.
Also investigate taking our “Prepare to Pass” courses for preparation for professional certification examinations.
Are there other qualifications I need to succeed?
In addition to possessing speed and accuracy, digital court reporters and legal transcriptionists must have excellent listening skills and hearing, good English grammar and vocabulary, and punctuation skills.
They must be aware of business practices and current events as well as the correct spelling of names of people, places, and events that may be mentioned in a legal or court proceeding.
For those who work in courtrooms, an expert knowledge of legal terminology and criminal, civil, and appellate procedure is essential.
Knowledge of applicable resource material is also required.
What do I need to take a course at the IITCR?
You need access to the Internet. You will need to use Firefox as your web browser. You also need to purchase a special USB foot pedal and a professional headset. You don’t have to be concerned about purchasing something that you won’t use in the future. You will need these for your new career. Order your foot pedal and headset as soon as possible to allow time for shipping.
These lessons require the use of a computer with access to the Internet, a USB port, a professional head set, and a USB foot pedal. You will need Express Scribe Pro software. You can order yours through Alto Edge in the United States. Their website is www.altoedge.com.
We strongly suggest you order yours today in order to allow time for shipping. Express Scribe is the software you will be using for listening to dictation and preparing transcription assignments. Detailed downloading instructions will be given during the “Introduction” of your course. Remember, you must use Firefox as your web browser in order to complete the transcription assignments.
How much should a Court Reporting school cost?
Is it necessary to spend $30,000+ for a quality court reporting school education? Absolutely not!
Don’t be misled by accredited, associate degree granting colleges of court reporting. An IMPORTANT FACT to consider is that many court reporting schools today are owned by corporations with no affiliation of any kind to the career of court reporting or court reporting education.
The instructors at the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters have been in the active ever-evolving field of court reporting for over 25 years. Our instructors are credentialed court reporters and legal transcriptionists.
You do not want to pay thousands of dollars for training and invest years of your life in training to be unable to utilize your skills.
What court reporting theory does the IITCR teach?
Theory is one of the most important components of your court reporting training. A lot of theories taught in court reporting schools today are old and not current with the digital court reporting/transcribing field. At the IITCR, you will be learning up-to-date digital court reporting theory, ethics, legal and medical terminology, grammar, sentence structure and spelling used in the world of court reporting and legal transcribing.
Is it necessary to be taught by credentialed court reporters?
YES! Court reporting and legal transcription are unlike any other careers. To be taught by someone who has never attained a minimum of ICDR/ICDT (Internationally Certified Digital Reporter, Internationally Certified Digital Transcriptionist) or CVR (Certified Verbatim Reporter) credential is simply not acceptable. Credentials such as the CRI (Certified Reporting Instructor) or CLVS (Certified Legal Video Specialist) are nice, but any court reporting school instructor should hold the minimum of the ICDR/ICDT and/or CVR to teach any digital court reporting and/or legal transcriptionist courses.
Many colleges and schools of court reporting use student dropouts or even graduates of the court reporting schools who have not been able to pass certification examinations as instructors. Your instructors in a court reporting school should at least hold the same credentials they expect you to attain. Some schools use instructors with absolutely no court reporting training or relevant job experience. As indicated above, the instructors at the International Institute for Transcribers and Court Reporters have been in the active field of court reporting for over 25 years. Our instructors are credentialed court reporters with the IAPRT and other international regulatory bodies. Would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who had been taught by someone who had just read about surgery but had never performed a real surgery? Absolutely not!
Does the IITCR provide job placement assistance?
Individuals to fill positions for these careers are in high demand. Every graduate will have sufficient training to obtain employment in their career of choice. At the IITCR we are proud to present our graduates as tops in their field. We provide ongoing promotion for job placements and advise of positions world-wide for digital court reporters and legal (digital) transcriptionists. We are very proud of our graduates. We currently have 100% of our graduates employed in their career of choice.
Does the term “digital court reporter” mean that reporters only work in a courtroom setting?
No. All court reporters are divided into the categories as follows:
OFFICIAL COURT REPORTERS – Those who work in a courtroom setting or do reporting for governmental agencies. Examples of official court reporters include supreme court, county, provincial, or family court, hearing reporters, and special courts or agencies of the local, state, or federal government.
In Canada, these are called either court recording monitors, court clerk/monitors, or digital court reporters.
FREELANCE REPORTERS – Those who work for a freelance agency or are self-employed. Their work varies from day to day. One day they may be doing hearings for school boards or zoning commissions; the next day they may be doing depositions or examinations for discoveries for lawyers. Sometimes freelance reporters will be hired by courts to do reporting on a temporary basis.