Court reporter salary & career outlook

An accurate transcript of court proceedings is vital. That's where court reporters come in.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters are responsible for creating verbatim transcriptions of legal proceedings, including trials, administrative hearings and depositions, among others. Their ability to produce real-time records of what's being said might also be used to provide television captioning or live translations for hearing-impaired people at public events, in classrooms or at business meetings. Beyond writing out what's being said and done, court reporters might also record a session with various technology, edit transcripts and ask speakers to clarify statements.

Becoming a court reporter typically requires licensing or certification by a professional association, with the requirements varying by state and the method of court reporting in question. Many court reporters also attend training programs at community colleges and technical institutes. Aside from licensing, important abilities to possess for the job, the BLS reports, include concentration, listening and writing skills, and attention to detail.

Court reporter salary

It can pay to be in court — for court reporters, that is.

According to the BLS, court reporters in America earned a mean annual wage nationally of $54,760 as of May 2013, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $26,340 or lower, and the highest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of at least $93,240. The average annual wage for all occupations nationwide is $46,440.

You can expect these numbers to vary among different industries. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries for court reporters in America, as of May 2013, were:

  • Local government (excluding schools and hospitals): $57,660 annual mean wage
  • State government (excluding schools and hospitals): $56,850 annual mean wage
  • Federal executive branch (excluding schools, hospitals and the postal service): $56,170 annual mean wage

Fluctuating wages may also be explained by location. According to the BLS, the top-paying states in America for court reporters, as of May 2013, were:

  • New York: $86,130 annual mean wage
  • California: $78,220 annual mean wage
  • Maine: $78,200 annual mean wage

Similarly, the city you live in might also factor in to how much you could earn as a court reporter. According to the BLS, the top-paying metropolitan areas in America for court reporters, as of May 2013, were:

  • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division: $96,400 annual mean wage
  • New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division: $86,440 annual mean wage
  • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA: $84,690 annual mean wage

Job outlook for court reporters

According to the BLS, employment of court reporters in America is projected to grow by 10 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is near the average of 11 percent nationally for all occupations. That growth is expected to produce approximately 2,000 new court reporter jobs.

Possible contributing factors for this projected growth include new federal regulations requiring expanded use of captioning for television, the Internet and other technologies. Another possible explanation for the growth might be increasing needs for court reporters outside of legal proceedings, such as in television, movie theaters and sports stadiums, for example. There could also be growth potential in helping an aging population in need of transcription services.

Projecting exactly where growth happens can be more difficult to pinpoint. It may be possible to get an idea of U.S. states with strong employment potential by looking at which ones had the highest concentration of court reporters working there. According to the BLS, as of May 2013, they were:

  • Maryland
  • Louisiana
  • Indiana

State labor department data collected by Projections Central also aims to predict which states will have the greatest job growth for court reporters through 2020. These states include:

  • Tennessee: 30.7% projected growth
  • Utah: 27.8% projected growth
  • Colorado: 23.9% projected growth

Finally, the American metropolitan areas with the highest number of court reporters, as of May 2012, were:

  • Baltimore-Towson, MD
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division
  • New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division

Based on the strong growth projections and above-average salaries, the overarching theme is that court reporters fill an important role, and the field is both sustainable and on the rise.

Sources:

Court Reporters, "Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/court-reporters.htm#tab-1

Occupational Employment and Wages: Court Reporters, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232091.htm

Long Term Occupational Projections for Court Reporters, Projections Central,
http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

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