In the state of Utah, if you want to find success in a career as a court reporter, then you will absolutely need to have a formal education beyond high school. The exact education that you will need, however, will depend upon the exact job that you wish to have in the field. Contrary to common belief, not all court reporters work in the same way or even in the same places.
They can work in a wide variety of different capacities, and each capacity will have its own unique requirements and demands. Obviously then, it is a wise idea to determine what you want to do ahead of time, definitely well before you even start looking at schools. Your goal should be to plan your education to match your career goals, not the other way around!
Not every court reporter in the state will actually have to hold a degree. Many successful court reporters have only completed training programs, which are commonly offered at community colleges, and at vocational and/or technical schools.
While these programs do not end in a degree, they tend to grant certificates of completion and to teach necessary skills for the more entry level positions in the field. They can vary considerably in length from program to program and are usually much cheaper than earning an actual degree.
The majority of professionals working in the field in Utah, however, will have at least an associate’s degree. Associate’s degrees are most commonly earned from community colleges, typically in about two years time, though it is possible to earn these degrees much more quickly or slowly, depending upon the pace you set for yourself.
Associate’s degrees tend to be cheaper to earn than higher level degrees and can open up many positions in the field, positions which you can easily work your way up from with a little diligence and skill.
Some court reporters choose to go on to earn bachelor’s degrees. These degrees, which are earned from traditional colleges and universities or from online schools, take about four years, on average, to complete, or two if you earned an associate’s degree previously.
They qualify you for virtually any position in the field, and, in most cases, scholarships, financial aid, and/or loans and grants can be obtained to help you finance your education. If you are already working in the field if and/or when you pursue a bachelor’s degree, your employer may be willing to finance all or part of your education.
Few people in the industry will hold master’s degrees or PhDs, and even finding these level programs in court reporting is next to impossible. However, holding a higher level degree, even if it is in a completely unrelated field but better yet if it is in a related area, can greatly increase your salary right from the start and can help you to move up the professional ladder much more quickly. If you enjoy school and can easily pay for an education, then this is an option you might consider.
The time that you will spend earning your degree, no matter what level you aspire to, will be a very fun but also a very busy time. Prospective court reporters typically devote a lot of class time, especially at the beginning of their educational programs, learning general information about the field, about what is expected of them as workers in the field, and about proper behavior on the job.
From there, the work will gradually get more hands on and experiential. You will be taught how to use the technology associated with your particular type of court reporting, and you will do actual hands on using of that technology in class. You will also learn about the judicial and legal systems in general.
A lot of the classes you will take in addition to classes such as these will depend upon the exact degree you are seeking and on what your career goals ultimately are. The best thing you can do though is to simply pursue an education that is well rounded and that, above all, will enable you to have success in the court reporting industry.