"First Steps" class
Welcome! The response to this class has been much higher than we originally anticipated. Great news!! But, please be patient as we are coordinating many classes all over the state. Be aware that the class you sign up for may not be offered until later in the year or next spring. Someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible, but it may be a few weeks or more than a month from now. At this time, we are focusing on the classes with the highest registration and then moving along to the next class schedule. If you want to see the confirmed class location, please click on the Class Calendar link above.
**UPDATE** All live classes are being postponed until further notice due to COVID-19 and CDC recommendations. We have a shorten video version posted below, but it's really no substitute for the hands-on portion and live interaction and questions. Please feel free to still register so we have you on our list to contact once we can resume classes or if we offer live webinars. We are looking into options. Thank you!
What is court reporting?
Court reporting is a specialized, technology-based profession. The old-fashioned idea of a court reporter taking notes on a steno pad, or a machine with an endless feed of paper, is long gone and replaced by paperless realtime translation technology. With realtime, the spoken word can be displayed on a computer screen almost immediately after it is said. You have probably seen closed-captioning on television before. If you have, you have seen a court reporter's work in action. Court reporters use a steno machine, also called a writer, with 22-keys to take down what is being said in excess of 225 words per minute. They are not typing letters, but taking down phonetic sounds to make words. Those key strokes are translated by a computer program into English words just seconds after they are spoken.
Is there really a demand for court reporters?
There is a huge demand for court reporters, and it's growing every year. Voice-to-text can't do what court reporters do! You've seen what Siri and Alexa come up with, right?! Not good! And that's just one voice talking directly at a device. Imagine how that would NOT work in a courtroom with multiple people, multiple accents, and mumbling. As the veteran generation of court reporters are retiring, we are needing to replace 400+ employees in the next 10-15 years in Illinois alone. There are also work-from-home and self-employment routes court reporters can take. If you are a hard worker, there will be work for you. Visit this NEWS page for articles about the profession demand.
What makes a good court reporter?
If you have a very good grasp of spelling and grammar (meaning you CLEARLY know the difference between there, their, and they're) and you're fast at typing, texting, or piano...you just might make a good court reporter. You will need to be self-motivated to get through to licensing because you will need to practice. Unlike most other professions, there is a physical component to which you will need to become fluent. As with learning a musical instrument, the more you practice, the better you become faster.
What is a judicial court reporter?
Instead of captioning a television show, judicial reporters are taking down what is said in a courtroom so there can be a written record of the proceedings. In some cases, they can be utilized to assist the hearing impaired in the courtroom by displaying a realtime translation on a computer screen. Judicial court reporters are employed by the State of Illinois with state benefits and work in one of the 102 counties in Illinois, so chances are, there will be a job near you. The STARTING salary range, once you are licensed, is $41,000 - $51,000 in Illinois, plus additional transcript income. Official court reporters are currently paid $4 per page for the transcripts they create. The salary goes up with more experience, certifications, and years of service.
What do I need to do to become a court reporter?
The State of Illinois is getting ready to launch several programs which will help people get started on the path to becoming a court reporter FREE OF CHARGE. We'll provide you with the information on what it takes, let you get your hands on the court reporting equipment, tell you what you need to do to get licensed in Illinois, and you'll learn how someone can earn up to a six-figure salary in this rewarding career. The demand is so high that as long as you are willing to go to where the current job openings are, you are practically guaranteed a job after passing the licensing exam! People may be calling you before you are even licensed. This introductory class will meet once a week for four weeks. Please fill out the contact form below to let us know where you are located so we can direct you to the next introductory class near you. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you will need your parent's permission to attend. Yes, you can work on court reporting school while you are still in high school, but you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to take the licensing exam.
What does this introductory class include?
The class is completely FREE. It will be one night a week for three weeks, lasting about an hour and a half each class. They will be in the evenings as they are lead by working Official Court Reporters. You will be provided workbooks, an online introductory lesson to court reporting, be able to get your hands on a steno machine. You will also take personal assessments to be able to discuss strengths and weaknesses for someone going into court reporting. Assessments include include technology, grammar, typing, and personality traits. The class will conclude with a one-on-one meeting with a class leader to discuss if you want to pursue court reporting further and to answer any lingering questions you might have. We want to be clear: this class is just the beginning. You will be far from being ready to be a court reporter.
What do I do after the introductory class?
You do not need a college degree to become a court reporter. You just have to attain the knowledge and speed to pass the state's licensing exam. After you have decided that court reporting is a good career fit for you, you could enroll in online courses to work at your own pace mainly from home. Court Reporting at Home is an online school we have partnered with to help you continue your education. If a traditional classroom is more your style, there are court reporting schools in Illinois: South Suburban College and MacCormac College in the Chicago area.
Regardless of whether you prefer traditional or online classes, we will continue to support you during your education by pairing you with a mentor for check-ins and in-person meetings to answer questions you might have and for accountability. A motivated student who puts in time to practice each day could be done with licensing in 2 years or less! We even have one very motivated court reporter employed with us who never went to court reporting school. He taught himself court reporting on a borrowed machine while meeting with a mentor regularly. While this continuing education has tuition associated with it, it is extremely reasonable when comparing it to the cost of a semester at traditional college. We also have scholarship opportunities for extremely motivated individuals willing to work for the state upon completion of their licensing.