New to Court Reporting? Try Shadowing a Seasoned Professional

Considering a career in court reporting? Now is a great time. There are shortages across America for qualified reporters. However, before signing up, be forewarned that the path is not for the faint of heart. Combs Reporting allows you to sit in on an actual deposition for new court reporters to get a feel for the field.

From School Through Licensing

Court reporting training is not a traditional university program. It is a stick-with-it-till-you-get-it-right program. Yes, there are academic, lecture-style courses. But the major component of court reporting – learning machine shorthand and building speed up to 225 words per minute – is achieved one-speed level at a time.

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Each speed level involves passing transcriptions at that speed at 97% accuracy (or higher, depending on the school). It may take a week, a month, or a year to promote to the next speed level. This pattern repeats until you can accurately transcribe testimony up to 225 wpm.

Following graduation, it is on to the state licensing exam. Fail any segment of the test and you must wait until the next licensing exam is offered. Tests are given three times throughout the year in the State of California.

The biggest hurdle is learning how to properly do the job. New court reporters have been trained to pass the exam, instead of training for the field. It’s easy to secure a job, but you’ll want to find a good company that will mentor you and train you for the field

The best way to leap this hurdle is to shadow as many working professionals as you can while you are still training. A secondary benefit to shadowing is you will progress faster through your remaining speed classes.

Internships and Mentorships

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Court reporters in small counties are not approached as frequently by court reporting students, and they are very open to letting students sit in on hearings and trials. Don’t skip motion day. While it can be difficult to record, it is also very interesting to observe lawyers argue law before the judge. It’s also part of the job of an official reporter.

Try to sit out of the way but as close to the court reporter as possible. And take your machine! While you will not keep up with all of the proceedings, you will be encouraged when you keep up with some of it.

Choose two or three freelance firms you think you may want to work with and try to intern with them, also. The firm gets to know you and the quality of your work, and it just may open the door for your first job.


The San Francisco Bay area is home to Combs Reporting, one of the Bay area’s top court reporting firms. We are always looking for superior talent. In addition to a professional staff of court reporters and videographers, you will find deposition interpreters San Francisco and deposition conference rooms San Francisco at Combs Reporting.

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