Court Reporters versus Digital Recording Systems


The potential income for general stenography careers is constantly rising.  The stenography field is widening so fast, there is an ever-growing demand for stenographers, with employment of court reporting jobs projected to grow 25 percent before 2016.  The reason for this is the information revolution, sparked by the growth of new media and the internet.  This has created many more positions than can possibly be filled. A court reporter’s salary has also been positively affected by the growing demand for general stenographers, because court reporters now have more options than just the courtroom and depositions to put their skills to use.

Your membership in organizations such as the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), the NCRA (National Court Reporters Association), the United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA) and/or the National Verbatim Reporter Association (NVRA) can help increase your skills and your networking possibilities and therefore your potential for earnings.


A court reporter’s salary depends mainly on two things:

Level of skill If you can transcribe more than the minimum words per minute with 95% accuracy, you will qualify for a higher wage job.

Geographic Area: The area you live in will often determine the demand for your skills as a court reporter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rural areas and large cities have the greatest need for court reporters.  If your skills are better than average and you live in a rural area or a large city, you can expect to earn an average income of around $62K* per year.


Closed captioning specialists and general stenographers have an earning potential that is similar to court reporters.  The difference is that they are not limited to only the legal field and many positions can be performed from home, so their geographic location is not a factor.  Of course, skill level also plays an important part in determining earning potential. The companies that may seek home transcribers include: colleges, universities and professional schools, business support services and local governments, doctors’ offices and more; you might also consider people developing educational YouTube videos and podcasts who might like a transcript of their work.  A closed captioning stenographer or a general stenographer can also expect to earn an average salary of $62K* per year, but since many work on a freelance basis, they can earn as much as $100K* per year.

(Sources:;; Bureau of Labor Statistics.)


A number of court systems are moving to a digital audio only or digital audio/video only recording system to eliminate the cost of court reporters.  Some have discovered that technical difficulties have led to a compromise in the validity of the cases they’ve tried.  Some have been very happy with their results.  It’s an on-going battle that I think will continue to be fought with maybe a compromise in the end.  Here’s a link to a very good article on this very subject:  Dayton Business Journal – Future of court reporting jobs in jeopardy. 

So we have two differing opinions here.   One saying the field of stenography/court reporting is rising; the other saying that courts are opting for a digital recording system only in order to save some money.  Who will win?

What do you think?  What will be the technological future for court reporters?  Do you think technology alone will fail?  Have you had any personal experience with being replaced for a machine?  Let us know.






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2 Responses to Court Reporters versus Digital Recording Systems

  1. Jole Reece says:

    Your piece was very revealing. Thank you for bringing the public such vital information. Demand for court reporting services is fueled by the continuing need for accurate transcription of proceedings in courts and in pretrial depositions, the growing need to create captions for live television, and by the need to provide other real-time broadcast captioning and translating services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Court reporters remain the gold standard for capturing the spoken word. Digital recording systems in place of court reporters complicate the affair even further, since reviewing these digital records is time consuming and exhausting amongst others.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you for your comment, Jole. As hard as they try to economically pare down the system through use of technology, it’s inevitable a human being will have to be significantly involved.

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