Being a court reporter in Canada is not the same as being a general beat journalist. Court reporters have to understand how the law works. If you are interested in court reporting in Canada, you do not have to get a journalism degree or any other college degree for you to be considered. You will, however, need to take courses that are specifically designed for people who want to become court reporters. The good news is that the courses take less than four years to complete.
Choosing the Right School
After you have decided that you want to become a court reporter in Canada, the next step is to look for the right school. You can either go to a physical school or take up online courses. You should note that even if you decide to take online courses, they should be approved by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) of Canada. Do your research and ensure that they have the right accreditation before you start engaging with them. Some of the recognized institutions are:
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
- L’ecole de Stenographie judaciare du Quebec.
Once you get an admission into the institution, you must meet the minimum requirements which have been established by the institution. You should choose an institution that you can afford, or alternatively take a load and then master the tips to pay students loan so that you do not get overwhelmed after you are done with the course.
You cannot get a job or position as a court reporter without the right certification. There are some institutions such as the Alberta Shorthand Reporters Association that give recommendations that court reporters and people who want to become captioners should not only have certification from NCRA approved schools, but they should also train in shorthand theory using computer compatible machines. Most institutions will not hire anyone who does not produce accreditation that they have gone through a certified institution.
To get the certificates, one needs to successfully complete the education program or have at least five years experience being a court reporter.
- Machine Shorthand:
To become a court reporter, you will need to take a lot of notes with speed and accuracy. This means that you should take a course in shorthand so that you do not lag behind during the proceedings. The minimum speed that court reporters use to write computer shorthand is 225 per minute. The computer then transcribes the shorthand notes into words that can be understood by the general public.
It goes without saying that there will be a lot of legal jargon being used in court. For a court reporter to follow the proceedings, they need to understand the legal aspects of how the court works. They also need to understand the laws of Canada so that they report from a point of knowledge. There are some court reporters who want to specialize in specific areas, for instance, property law, so they should take courses that will make it easier for them to capture what is being said in court.
Working as a Court Reporter
Once you get the required certification, you should register with a regulatory organization in Canada so that you are given clearance to work. Depending on the province where you are going to work, you may need to have additional knowledge of French as some court proceedings are conducted in French in places like Quebec. If you want to work in Ontario, you must be a member of the Chartered Shorthand Reporters Association of Ontario. For Alberta, you should be with the Alberta Shorthand Reporters Association and the British Columbia Shorthand Reporters Association if you are in British Columbia.