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A court reporter is a highly trained and skilled professional whose occupation is to capture live testimony or proceedings through the use of a state-of-the-art stenographic machine and transforms the proceedings into an official certified transcript.

A court reporter also works outside of the legal field to provide live captions for the deaf or hard-of-hearing community..


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No 4-year degree required!


Illinois requirements:

(Shorthand Reporter Licensee Application)

a.  Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) license through Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)

- or -

b.  Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification through National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) and apply for Illinois CSR through IDFPR


~ Court Reporting Students ~

You may have heard about the Part-A "officialship" examination that was given at 
court reporting schools in the past.  This exam was commonly taken prior to passing the CSR examination.  While we still give this examination, it is now only given in connection with potential employment opportunities.  Yes, employment is possible in the court reporting field prior to obtaining your CSR license. Upon passing the Part-A examination, a person employed with the Illinois Courts is qualified for a restricted CSR license.  With this license, you may work as a court reporter if there is an electronic recording system in the courtroom as a secondary record.  

Due to statutory limitations, restricted licenses are not available for employment as a court reporter in Cook County, but there are electronic recording positions available until a time where you are able to pass the CSR examination.

If you have passed testimony examinations at 190 wpm or better, feel free to contact any circuit on our Job Vacancies page to see if they have electronic recording systems and whether they would consider hiring a restricted license holder.  If so, the Chief Judge's office may request that you take the Part-A examination in our Springfield office to see if you would qualify.


CART Reporter


Top 5 reasons to consider a career as an Illinois official court reporter


Court reporting in the news

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A shout out to Court Reporters

- by Rachel Maddow

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Guinness world record
360 words per minute!




Red Carpet Event

The Oscars

“Court reporting school is less like a school and more like an extended hazing ritual that lasts for years.  The entire program is an exercise in delayed gratification with no guarantees.  The graduation rate is depressingly low (around 5-10%).  A score of 98% on a test is a failing grade.  Failure is your constant companion on your journey.  If you fail enough times, you might achieve the ultimate prize:  coveted letters following your name (and an amazing endorphin rush to boot).  Even still, certification is only the beginning, and you’ve got a lot more to learn before you’re a working reporter.


This experience is what I love about the community.  When you meet someone with the same strange talent that also went through the same hazing ritual that you did, it’s an amazing human bonding experience that leads to an instant friendship.  I have literally hundreds of friends around the world.  All of them are wonderful and talented individuals that enrich my life.  These ladies are no exception.


It was an honor to be asked to be part of this amazing team of court reporting professionals (and friends old and new) to produce same-day verbatim transcripts of the winners’ press conferences following the #oscars2021.  We didn’t get to dress up and walk the red carpet this year due to COVID (as in years past), but it’s a thrill to be here anyway!  Court reporting is more than being in court or a deposition.  I’ve had so many amazing experiences in my 14-year career so far and am so excited for the opportunities to come.”

Megan Gooch

As a member of the original First Steps program, I feel obligated to encourage anyone interested in court reporting or even those who know nothing about the career path to take the time to join this program. It truly opened my eyes to a whole new adventure. I knew very little about court reporting before joining First Steps. During the few short weeks of this class, I learned enough that I knew I wanted to start my journey of court reporting school as soon as I could. I have been happily in school for a little over a year now and am looking forward to obtaining my certification in the next year. I highly recommend it if you are even curious about what court reporting is all about. It opened my eyes to a great future!

Amy Cantrall

I came across the First Steps program as my introduction to court reporting and it got me hooked! I wasn't sure what court reporting was all about until I reached out to get information about how to proceed with the program in light of COVID restrictions. Melissa was quick to respond and incredibly helpful in getting me started from home! I quickly fell in love with the career and feel that it is just what I have been searching for and wish I had come across it sooner. However, if it was not for the First Steps program, I would have had a much more difficult time getting started since there are no institutions around me that offer courses in court reporting so I must do it all online. With this program, I've felt supported, encouraged, and in good company. Melissa's helped me every step of the way and I'm excited to begin my court reporting school journey!

Jade Street

If you are looking for a career in a cutting edge technology profession, you need to check out the First Steps program! This program opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Court Reporting. It was very informative to hear from working Judicial/ Official Court Reporters who were so friendly and took the time to answer all of my questions. I appreciate everyone who helped me get started on my journey. You never know until you roll up your sleeves and try it!

Beth Sullivan

Court reporting first caught my fascination when I chaperoned an eighth grade field trip to a career fair at Lakeland College.  I was quite impressed with the display the court reporters gave at their booth, and they were so helpful and excited to talk to me, that I never forgot it.  In the winter of 2019-2020, I started considering changing careers from being an English teacher.  When I learned about the First Steps program, I eagerly looked for a seminar in my area and was super excited to see a meeting was coming up soon, so I signed up.  I started to think the seminar would be the deciding point in whether or not I would transition out of teaching.  I had a lot of questions, and the seminars were supposed to let you try the steno writer.  Unfortunately, the March seminar was cancelled because of Covid concerns.  However, I reached out to Melissa, and she responded to all my questions with such enthusiasm that the matter was settled in my mind.  I took advantage of the Spring Quarantine and signed up for the Court Reporting at Home program.  Eventually, First Steps had a webinar that I attended online, and it just helped solidify that court reporting was something I wanted to do.  After getting a decent start in the Court Reporting at Home program, I decided to devote my time to my studies and resigned from my teaching job at the end of the school year.  I am now almost one year into the program, and I am working on building my speed at 120 wpm.  I'm very excited about the road ahead, and this program was just the change I was looking for.

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