California Official Court Reporters Association

Careers Options

The reporting profession allows flexibility in matching your career to your lifestyle. You can work in a structured environment with regular hours in one location, or you can travel, set your own hours, work part time, and/or at home.


Court reporters who work in court are called official court reporters. Some courts assign one official court reporter to work exclusively with one judge. Other courts maintain a pool of official court reporters and assign them to courts as needed. Official court reporters use computer technology that produces instant real-time translation of the oral proceedings in court. This permits the reporter to offer a variety of new products beyond the traditional paper transcript to assist courts, judges and litigants to more effectively manage cases.

Official court reporters earn a base salary plus receive benefits. All officials are paid extra for producing transcripts. More and more are receiving pay premiums for real-time services, which can add up to in excess of 8% of their base salary. Examples of top level base salaries before benefits, real-time premiums and transcripts range from $60,000 to $87,000 depending on the county in which you work.



Court reporters who report depositions and out-of-court proceedings are called freelance court reporters. Freelance reporters work as independent contractors. They work through reporting agencies and/or for themselves, and travel to a wide variety of work environments. Some of the more exotic assignments include work in foreign countries. In addition to traditional legal settings, freelance court reporters are expanding their computerized capabilities into the newest court reporting frontiers of CART and television captioning.


CART stands for Communication Access Real-time Translation. CART is the instant translation of the spoken word into English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer and real-time software. The text appears on a computer monitor or other display. This technology is primarily used by people who are late-deafened, oral deaf, hard-of-hearing, culturally deaf, or have cochlear implants. CART is also often referred to as real-time captioning.

The Americans with Disabilities Act recognizes CART as an assistive technology, which affords “effective communication access.” Thus, the term “communication access” distinguishes CART from real-time reporting in a traditional litigation setting.



Captioning is a rapidly advancing profession. Broadcast captioners, also called stenocaptioners, use court reporter skills on the stenotype machine to provide captions of live television programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, through real-time technology that instantly produces readable English text. Stenocaptioners work for local and national networks captioning news, emergency broadcasts, sports events and other programming.


Internet Webstreaming

Court reporters are now using their real-time skill to stream live text over the internet for closed or open captioning events in RealPlayers, chats, collaborationware and CART viewers, etc. This service is being used for Internet seminars, business meetings, financial reporting, CART for students and business people, celebrity chats, product announcements and depositions – also for sporting events and concurrent television and Internet captioning. These Internet events can be archived for later search and research.

Court reporters who write real-time webstreams provide valuable assistance to global audiences for whom English is a second language. Available software such as cSpeech and Speche allow the court reporter to utilize their familiar CAT or captioning software for Internet transmission.


The Historical Office of the United States Senate offers the following description of congressional shorthand reporting. “Whenever the U.S. Senate convenes in daily session, an official reporter of debates is present on the floor, taking down everything spoken and all business transacted. Senate reporters record the debates in 10-minute shifts, returning immediately to their offices to transcribe their notes. The next day the entire proceedings appear in the Congressional Record, for distribution to members’ offices, libraries and interested readers nationwide. This remarkable process, deemed a ‘printing miracle’ by the Washington Post and ‘one of the wonders of the printing profession’ by the New York Times, has a history that is as old as the Senate itself, and yet for a considerable time reporters held an independent status from the institution whose debates they recorded.”