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Court Reporter Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Court Reporter. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Court Reporter
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Court Reporter Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Court reporters, also known as shorthand writers, verbatim reporters or stenograph writers, make a word-for-word (verbatim) record of proceedings in court. They listen carefully to everything being said and record it either in traditional shorthand or more likely, especially in England and Wales, by using machine shorthand.

Court reporters, using machine shorthand, type whole words and phrases at a single stroke on the keyboard. Linked to a computer-aided transcription (CAT) system, the shorthand notes can then be displayed simultaneously as an English transcript. They normally use one of the two main machines: a Palantype or Stenograph and can reach speeds of over 200 words per minute.

After the court session, they transform often ungrammatical speech into a written record that can be easily read and understood without distorting the original sense or intention.They correct any mistakes, edit the text and produce a final transcript.

Sometimes, lawyers want to see the transcript before the case continues the next day, and while in court reporters may be asked to read back passages as they are recorded. In some cases, a real-time system is used where notes are displayed on a large screen or a network of computer monitors.

Hours and Environment

Court reporters may work irregular hours. Court sessions are usually held between 10am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday but reporters have to be seated before court begins. Some courts have an earlier start of 8am or 8.30am and reporters are expected to stay until proceedings close. They may have to work outside these hours if a special hearing is held in the evening or during a weekend.

Court reporters spend most of their time in court and this involves sitting for long periods of time in a formal setting. Some of their transcription work may be done at home or in an office after the proceedings have finished.

They often have to travel considerable distances, taking their CAT machine and computer with them, so a driving licence may be required.

Skills and Interests

As a court reporter, you should:

  • be able to work quickly and accurately
  • have a good standard of English grammar
  • be confident and have a clear speaking voice
  • be able to sit and concentrate for long periods of time
  • be a good listener
  • be computer literate
  • have an interest in law.


There are no formal academic qualifications required for this kind of work. Some colleges that provide training courses and some employers, may require three to five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3), including English. Some court reporters have A levels/Highers or degrees. It is not necessary to be able to type or have knowledge of paper-based shorthand in order to learn machine shorthand.

The Lord Chancellors Department appoints reporters to work in the crown courts of England and Wales and requires that they are accredited as competent by the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters (BIVR).

To be regarded as competent you would need to:

  • learn written or machine shorthand
  • gain experience in employment as a trainee court reporter
  • reach a speed of at least 160wpm shorthand.
  • Most firms that recruit trainees expect them to have 140-180wpm on entry.Speeds of 200 or more words per minute are needed for real-time reporting.

There is no upper age limit. Entry requirements are the same as those for younger entrants.


Most shorthand writers start by taking a course in machine shorthand, either at a college or by distance learning.

Possum controls, the manufacturer of Palantype machines, offer distance learning courses. Students work at their own pace and could achieve 120 words per minute within nine months.

Sorene Court Reporting and Training Services offer Stenograph training courses over 12-24 months.

Trainees that achieve speeds of 160wpm can apply to become associates of one of the professional bodies. After practical testing, they can become a provisionally accredited shorthand writer and are permitted to work on their own in court; at this point they will receive in-court training.

After a further three years' experience, they can apply for membership of a professional body.

In Scotland, trainee court reporters are usually trained in-house. They work with an experienced court reporter and during this time they are given regular tests to check progress. Firms expect trainees to be competent in shorthand when they apply.


There are about 600 court reporters. Many are based in London, but there are opportunities in any town with a crown court. Some firms service several courts over a large area.

Court reporters are employed by firms, which hold contracts with the Lord Chancellor's Department to provide reporting services to the crown courts and courts of appeal in England and Wales. In Scotland they are appointed to the sheriff and supreme courts, under contract either to firms of lawyers or to the Scottish Courts Administration. Others work on a freelance basis, finding work through the contract holding firms. There are opportunities for part-time work.

There is a move in Scotland towards taping cases, which means that opportunities in court work may decrease considerably. There is a shortage of suitably qualified shorthand writers in England and Wales.

Court reporters can work in places other than courts, for example: public inquiries, political conferences, court martials, disciplinary hearings and for international organisations like the United Nations.

There are increasing opportunities to work in television, subtitling programmes for viewers with hearing impairment. Opportunities are also increasing in conference reporting. Some police forces have begun to use verbatim reporters to record interviews.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Salary rates start at around £10,000 to £12,000 a year.
Experienced real-time reporters can earn more than £20,000 a year.

Many court reporters work freelance and income varies according to the volume of work they undertake. As a freelance reporter, you can expect to earn an average flat rate fee of £120 – £180 per day. Real-time reporters working freelance can earn £300 a day.

Further information

British Institute of Verbatim Reporters

Palantype Administrator
Possum Controls
8 Farmbrough Close
HP20 1DQ
Tel: 01296 481591

Sorene Court Reporting and Training Services
73 Alicia Gardens
Tel: 020 8907 8249

Verbatim Reporters
22 Rutland Square
Tel: 0131 229 5777

Other Useful Court Reporter Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Court Reporter job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Court Reporter Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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