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What is a
Court Reporter?

A court reporter is a highly trained and skilled professional whose occupation is to capture live testimony or proceedings through the use of a technologically-advanced 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..

Try a FREE introductory course!

How to Become a Court Reporter



No college degree required!

Train with a specialized court reporting school.

How long will training take?

That depends on you and your dedication to practice.

Average time is 2-4 years.

Check out some schools.



Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) examination through Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)

- or -

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





CART Reporter


Part-A Certification

Attention students and out-of-state court reporters!

Yes, employment is possible as an Official Court Reporter (courthouse court reporter) prior to obtaining your CSR license.  The Part-A examination is given to potential employees who are able to pass testimony examinations at 190 wpm or higher.  Upon passing the Part-A examination, a person is qualified for a restricted CSR license and may work in a courthouse that has state-supported recording as a backup until they receive their unrestricted license.  This allows a person to start receiving a salary and benefits before they are fully licensed.  

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.

Feel free to visit our Job Vacancies page or contact us to see if the circuit near you has an electronic recording system 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.

Explanation of the Employment Roles

OFFICIAL - Works with judges and lawyers in the court system.  An Official Court Reporter is responsible to make a verbatim record of everything said in a courtroom by stenographic means and to provide a written transcript when requested.  Officials are state employees and receive a generous benefit package including paid vacation time, health and life insurance coverage, and retirement plan contributions.  In Illinois, the starting salary range is $48,000 to $53,000.   Additional years of experience and/or additional certifications will increase the pay.  Once employed, additional increases in pay result from five-year step increases, cost of living adjustments, and proficiency incentives.  In addition to salary, Officials are paid for the transcripts they produce.

FREELANCE - Self-employed or work for freelance firms who coordinate the work.  Freelancer reporters market their skills to different types of clients in the legal setting and have the freedom to work as much or as little as they want based on desired income.  Many freelance reporters find opportunities to travel and have a broad variety of tasks and environments in which to work.  Freelance reporters are utilized in the information-gathering phase of legal actions by taking depositions and producing transcripts.  The income freelance reporters receive is derived from the transcripts they produce.  Some freelance firms provide benefits, while others do not.  The freelance reporter may be considered an employee or an independent contractor.

CART REPORTER - Onsite or remote coverage for meetings, medical appointments, or school classes to serve as the ears of the person with a hearing loss.  Because the CART reporter writes the spoken words on their writer, which instantly translate on a computer screen in front of the person with the hearing loss, that person can then be a full participant.  Similar to freelance reporters, CART reporters can work for companies as an employee or independent contractor.

CAPTIONER - Very similar to a CART reporter, Captioners provide realtime translations, known as captions.  Captioners work for captioning companies or other places, such as TV stations or sports venues.  This position allows for lots of flexibility and personal choice since TV captioning is done 24/7.  Through headphones, the Captioner listens to news broadcasts, live political speeches, major league ballgames, or whatever programming is contracted and writes what is said, which then is transmitted in realtime so that those watching can see the captions.  The potential earning capability depends on the number of hours contracted and the skill level possessed by the Captioner.  Ambitious Captioners who have excellent skills and accept challenging assignments earn incomes above $100,000 a year.

Tuition-Free Training!

2024 Spring and Fall classes!

Receive FREE training to become a court reporter in exchange for a 2-year employment contract!


Court reporting in the news

A shout out to Court Reporters

- by Rachel Maddow


  • Court reporters are not being replaced by technology or AI.  In fact, court reporters use sophisticated software and technology.

  • Court reporters are licensed professionals through the state licensing department, passing a certification exam at 225 words per minute!

  • A college degree is not required to become a court reporter.

  • Court reporters are also called stenographers.

  • Court reporters make a verbatim record, with a technologically-advanced stenographic machine, which gets transcribed into an official certified transcript for appeal purposes or for use by attorneys or the public.

  • Court reporting can be a lucrative career, earning income from both salary and transcripts.

  • An "Official" court reporter works in a courthouse and is a state employee, receiving a salary and benefits, including a defined pension and more.

  • Official court reporters receive salary increases through 5-year step increases, cost of living adjustments, and proficiency testing.

  • The technologically-advanced stenographic machine has 23 keys and allows one to type over 300 words per minute!  In fact, Court Reporter Mark Kislingbury holds the Guinness World Record at 370 words per minute!

  • The stenographic machine was invented in 1877 and is always evolving to integrate cutting-edge technology.

  • Court reporters produce closed captions for TV and other venues.

  • Court reporters have a front-row seat to the action or can work remotely.

  • Court reporters are allowed to interrupt court proceedings if they need anything repeated.

  • Court reporters are supported by a state and national association.

  • Court reporting is taught in both traditional and online schools.

  • Illinois currently has 105 court reporter vacancies!

Questions?  Email:

White Structure

Guinness World Record
370 words per minute!



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