Being a court reporter in Canada is one of the well-paying jobs that do not need you to spend many years studying in college. As long as you are passionate about it, and you are willing to dedicate some time to polish your skills, it should be relatively easy. You will need to get certification from relevant institutions before you are allowed to practice. Depending on the region where you will be practising, you should also be a registered member of associations for court reporters before you are allowed to work. Apart from certification and education, you also need to master the skills that will make you a good court reporter.
Skills for Court Reporters
- Ability to Listen: Court reporting is basically listening to what is being said, and then noting it down. You need to have good listening skills and avoid getting distracted during the sessions. This means that even when you are not in court, you should focus on honing your listening skills and teaching your mind to focus on what someone is saying, with the aim of understanding them.
- Attention to Detail: Other than being able to listen, court reporters must also make sure that they are noting down exactly what is being said. Remember that court proceedings are always very serious, and one wrong transcription or misrepresented word can jeopardize the entire case.
- Adherence to Rules: There are many stipulated rules that court reporters must adhere to. First, they should make sure that they do not interfere with the proceedings of the court by maintaining the right conduct while in court. Additionally, they should also learn the rules about shorthand and ensure that when they are reporting, they do not go against the rules and end up misrepresenting the case.
- Speed: This essential skill forms part of the training that court reporters go for. They need to have an average writing speed of 225 words per minute. What sets a good court reporter apart, among other skills, is how fast they are able to type on the shorthand machines. Nobody will repeat what they have said, so it is upon the court reporter to master fast speeds before they start working.
- Networking and socializing: If you want to be a court reporter in Canada, you must belong to a court reporting association. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to practise. For you to identify the right association and even blend well with the existing members of the association, you should be able to socialise and network. There are many other activities that go on in such networks, beyond being professional bodies for court reporters.
- Communication/Writing: You must be a good writer and communicator if you want to be recognised as a good court reporter. Your transcripts must be written in language that is easy to understand. You should also be good in either English or French if you want to work in a Canadian court, as those are the languages that are commonly used in court.
- Time Management: Court proceedings start at specific times. Nobody will wait for you if you are late, and there is nothing as frustrating as finding that the court process has already started and you do not understand what is going on because you are late. You must learn to manage your time well, including the short breaks that people get in between court proceedings.
- Patience and Passion: No matter how educated you are, if you do not have the passion to do court reporting, you will end up getting frustrated. You need to be patient enough to endure the long hours that you may have to sit in court without feeling overwhelmed by everything.