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Criminal Justice Articles

What is The Job Outlook for Court Reporters?

Court reporters should have excellent job prospects through 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In 2006, there were 19,000 court reporters employed in the United States. The DOL predicts that by 2016, the number of jobs in court reporting will increase by 25% to 4,700 positions. This growth rate is higher than average for most occupations. Retirement of baby boomers during the next ten years will create job vacancies.

Certification will improve a court reporter's employment opportunities even more. Federal laws that mandate captioning for all television broadcasts by 2010 will contribute to the high growth rate for this field. The projected growth rate is equal to rates in high demand health care careers like nursing.

Over half of the country's 19,000 court reporters currently hold federal, state or local government jobs. The percentage of court reporters that work for any type of government will decline slightly by 2016, to approximately 46%. Government job growth will be restricted by budget shortfalls and decreased expenditures for court proceedings. Many courts are already cutting expenses by decreasing the use of stenographic court reporters in favor of electronic court reporting. Although federal and state government hiring will both decrease, local government positions should increase by approximately ten percent, less than 800 jobs.

The second largest segment (36%) of court reporters is employed in the administrative and business support sector, as classified by the DOL. This group accounts for nearly 7,000 jobs. Jobs in this sector will account for the majority of growth, (56%) in available positions for court reporters by 2016. Jobs in this category will increase from 6,800 to 10,700. Fewer than 2,000 people in this profession were self-employed court reporters in 2006. This number will not increase by a significant percentage between 2006 and 2016.

The average salary for court reporters was $45,000 in 2006. The majority earned between $33,000 and $63,000. Ten percent earned less than $25,000, and the top ten percent had salaries over $75,000. Court reporters that worked for local governments earned an average of $4,000 more per year than those working in the business support services classification.

In addition to their salaries; court reporters charge a per page fee for transcribing documents. Some court reporters also freelance as contractors. In addition to the transcription fees, they receive a flat rate for each job contract. Court reporters that work as captioners are usually salaried employees if they work for a private company that provides captioning services. When they work as independent agents or contractors, they receive an hourly rate of pay.

Wages for court reporters vary widely across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2007, California, Tennessee, and New York were the states where court reporters received the highest salaries, averaging $67,000 per year. However, when BLS compared court reporter's salaries by city, the top paying metropolitan areas were Portland, OR district (including Beaverton-Vancouver WA) at $95,000; Newark-Union, NJ and PA metropolitan district at $75,000; and Memphis, TN (including AR and MS) at $74,000 annually.

In 2007, salaries for court reporters employed by the federal government were about $6,000 more than salaries for those employed by business services. State governments paid an average of $52,000, and local and federal government salaries averaged $50,000 annually.

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