How to become a Certified Court Reporters?
There are currently 90 actively employed court reporters in the state of Mississippi, almost half of those (40) work in Jackson, the state’s capital and largest city. It is predicted that there will be a 14 percent increase in court reporter jobs by 2018. The two types of court reporters in Mississippi are “official” reporters who work directly for the court system and “freelance” court reporters who are employed by court service agencies or law firms.
Court reporters in Mississippi are licensed and need to have at least an associate’s degree. The Mississippi Board of Certified Court Reporters is responsible for granting, renewing and occasionally revoking licenses which are obtained either by passing the Board exam or through a reciprocity agreement if you hold a valid license from another state. Court reporters who were working in Mississippi when the licensing law took effect were “grandfathered, ” i.e., licensed without taking the examination.
You must take the following steps to become a certified court reporter in Mississippi:
Step 1. Earn an Associate’s Degree in Mississippi in Court Reporting
The National Court Reporter Association (NCRA) is recognized as the nation’s most prestigious educational and informational organization for court reporters. The NCRA’s Council on Approved Student Education establishes the minimum standards schools must meet in order for court reporter programs to receive accreditation. The accredited court reporting schools in Mississippi includes such courses as:
- Machine Shorthand Theory
- Grammar and Punctuation
- Courtroom Procedures
- Legal and Medical Terminology
- Transcript Preparation
- Speedbuilding I, II and III
Students must achieve the NCRA machine shorthand minimum speed of 225 words per minute in order to graduate.
Explore Other Education Options Related to Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
Here you’ll find schools that offer certificate and degree programs well suited to a career in legal assisting, law office management and the paralegal profession.
Step 2. Meet Requirements for the Mississippi Board Examination
You must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible to take the Mississippi Board of Certified Court Reporters licensing examination:
- Associate’s degree in court reporting
- At least 21 years of age
- Good moral character
- Proof of Mississippi Residence
- Application form and $175 application/examination fees
Request for an application must be made in writing and mailed to the Board of Certified Court Reporters, P.O. Box 369, Jackson, MS 39205; 601/576-4623.
Step 3. Take the Mississippi Board Examination
The examination consists of written and skills sections. Applicants are given 45 minutes to complete the written examination. You must correctly answer 75 percent of the questions to pass. The test contains 50 multiple choice questions covering four areas:
- Court Reporting Ethics (30%)
- Transcription (30%)
- Mississippi Court Procedures (20%)
- Grammar, Spelling, Vocabulary (20%)
The skills test consists of three five-minute dictations of the following material:
- Two-Voice Testimony
- Jury Charges
- Literary Matter
Applicants must exhibit a minimum word-per-minute speed of 225, 200 and 180 respectively in order to pass each section. Results are mailed within four to six weeks.
Step 4. Get Job as an Official or Freelance Court Reporter in Mississippi
Official court reporters are those that work for the Mississippi court system which consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and these lower courts:
- Circuit Courts – 22 circuit court districts employ 53 judges to hear felony criminal cases and major civil lawsuits.
- Chancery Courts – 20 Chancery Districts/49 judges deal with disputes over adoption, child custody, divorce, guardianship, sanity hearings and wills.
- County Courts – 21 courts/30 judges handle eminent domain/juvenile cases.
- Justice Courts – 82 courts/197 judges focus on personal disputes involving less than $3, 500, misdemeanor crimes and traffic violations.
- Drug Courts – 42 courts handle drug and alcohol-related cases.
- Municipal Courts – 226 municipal courts deal mostly with municipal ordinances and city codes.
- Youth Court – 21 courts are devoted to juvenile cases
Contact the State of Mississippi Personnel Board for information about available jobs with the courts. Freelance court reporters are employed primarily by court services agencies and large law offices. It is necessary to contact individual agencies about open positions. In addition, the Freelance Court Reporters Association is a membership organization that lists job openings.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for court reporters in Mississippi is $35, 170 and slightly higher ($37, 940) in Jackson. An online salary website lists Biloxi as the Mississippi city that has the highest court reporter salaries (annual median salary of $46, 947).
Step 5. Earn National Court Reporter Association Accreditation
The National Court Reporter Association (NCRA) is open to all active or retired Mississippi court reporters and students. It offers three certifications which significantly enhance the holder’s credibility and professionalism. Examinations for the first-level certification, Registered Professional Reporter, are offered twice a year in April and November. Contact the NCRA to find the dates and places of examinations in Mississippi.
Step 6. Continue Your Education in Mississippi
The Mississippi Board of Court Reporters requires all certified court reporters in Mississippi to take a minimum of 30 credit hours of continuing education every three years. Courses must be approved by the Board and in compliance with the NCRA.