Train to be a Court Reporter, Closed Captioner, or CART Provider
We’ll guide you through important factors to consider as you learn more about the training needed to become a court reporter (a.k.a. court recorder or stenographer), closed captioner, or CART provider.
Cost varies by thousands of dollars depending on school type, but cost is not a measure of a program’s quality. Instruction offered by proprietary or for-profit schools is typically more expensive. Course length may depend on traditional court reporting school vs. online court reporting school, so remember to ask for the average graduate time of completion.
Is training the same for captioning, CART providing, and court reporting?
Although closed captioning, CART providing, and court reporting courses share similarities, there are notable differences. Most theories used by traditional court reporting schools do not have a captioning or CART providing basis or instruction in the formatting techniques.
Since 2008, “Court Reporting and Captioning at Home” (CRAH) has been providing comprehensive captioning and CART providing programs, and “The Realtime Reporting and Captioning Theory” is the only NCRA- (National Court Reporters Association) approved theory with a captioning foundation developed for online learning.
CRAH is truly a very structured, comprehensive, self-paced, home study, online training program. It allows students to complete courses from home at hours that are convenient for them much more quickly compared to traditional schools.
Is NCRA program approval and accreditation necessary?
Approximately 27 accredited, NCRA-approved court reporting schools exist in the U.S. The lack of NCRA approval should not influence your program decision as it simply means a school has met minimal standards and requirements, not exceeded them.
“Court Reporting and Captioning at Home” has the only NCRA-approved theory developed specifically for online, home study training, which is the most important component of every training program.
CRAH is owned by a court reporter with the RMR (Registered Merit Reporter) credential and a comprehensive background in court reporting, closed captioning, and CART providing. Up-to-date training materials and our excellent Support staff (comprised only of professionals credentialed in these fields) provide the best training available. This combination of outstanding resources and knowledge makes CRAH the best choice for quality real-time writing certification preparation and professional development.
Our self-paced online courses empower you to graduate with less tuition cost at a faster rate (sometimes 2-3 years earlier) than traditional court reporting schools.
How much does court reporting school cost, and how soon can I graduate?
Traditional court reporting schools typically charge by quarter/semester/credit hour with a price range between $24,000-$57,000 for a program of 2 to 3 years. It may lead to an “Occupational” Associate Degree, which is not a requirement. Credits earned from proprietary, trade, or technical schools may not transfer to colleges or universities. Most schools don’t even offer a separate training program for closed captioning and CART providing.
A degree is not necessary in these fields as employers only care if you can:
- Pass a court reporting certification exam if mandatory in your state.
- Create an accurate transcript.
“Court Reporting and Captioning at Home” prepares students for all three areas while using career-specific dictation materials. There’s no extra charge to train for any of these real-time writing careers, and the comprehensive program includes CAT software. Learn more about our program cost.
In a traditional school, you’re charged for each added quarter, semester, or credit hour needed to complete training if failing to do so in the specified timeframe. Most of these schools base their reports on 2-year programs, but statistics from the NCRA show average graduation time as 33 months.
CRAH only charges one price, regardless of how long it takes you to complete your training. You may complete it as quickly as you have time to practice, or you may take as long as necessary without being penalized. CRAH offers lifetime support. If a student must interrupt his/her training for a period of time, they simply pick up where they left off when they are able to return.
How do I assess the different court reporting school programs?
The two most important components of court reporting, captioning, or CART providing instruction programs are:
Qualified Staff Support
Many traditional schools employ CRIs (Certified Reporting Instructors) who attend the NCRA National Convention and attend seminars focusing on such things as developing a syllabus, role playing, dealing with stress, etc. Career experience or credentials in court reporting, captioning, or CART providing are NOT required for CRIs.
The “Court Reporting and Captioning at Home” program only employs court reporters, captioners, or CART providers who have passed state or national certification examinations and have experienced successful careers in court reporting, captioning, or CART providing.
Build A Strong Foundation with Theory
Theory is the method used to teach key location and writing on the steno machine. The foundation you create affects the rate at which you can build speed. Most traditional schools teach theory for a year or longer before progressing to speed building. Theory is reinforced daily throughout your training with the CRAH, even while in speed building, which is why it is so important to have an Instructor who has been a successful professional teaching theory. Speed building is based upon how well a student knows his/her theory, as it becomes automatic, spontaneous. It is imperative a speed building Instructor knows how to advise students how to write words in steno whether they are in beginning Theory or near the end of their training at 225 wpm.
“Court Reporting and Captioning at Home” teaches “Real Time Reporting and Captioning Theory,” the only one approved by NCRA for home study students. It was named by Kathy DiLorenzo, one of the nation’s first broadcast captioners, who served as NCRA President and as a member of the theory evaluation committee. She was also Vice President of VITAC Captioning Company for 20+ years.
We offer the shortest, easiest method to learn the necessary real-time writing principles. With just four hours of practice per day, many CRAH students complete this theory in 5-6 weeks. Learn more about “Realtime Reporting and Captioning Theory.”
What courses do I need for court reporting, captioning, or CART providing?
The six relevant courses for these fields consists of the following:
- Realtime Reporting and Captioning Theory for all three careers
- Court Reporting, Captioning, or CART Speed Building
- Academics specific to each career
- CAT (Computer Aided Transcription) Software and Steno Dictionary Building
- Court Reporting Internship – Captioning Internship – CART Providing Internship
- Certification Preparation
Traditional court reporting schools and online court reporting schools often mandate 8-10 additional academic courses, most of which aren’t relevant to these careers and are not found on any certification exam, i.e., Human Relations, Math, Speech, Writing, etc.
“Court Reporting and Captioning at Home” provides academic materials found on state and national certification exams. If students are already proficient in some of the academics, they do not waste time and money on them.
Academics found on court reporting certification exams include:
- Court reporting procedures
- Legal and medical terminology
- Transcript production
Most traditional schools charge students for student version CAT software, but there’s no charge with the CRAH program. Our students also receive a prebuilt steno dictionary, saving several hundred hours in training by not having to develop their own.
One of the most important student experiences is an internship/externship. When a CRAH student is ready, our staff schedules an internship at a time and location convenient for the student, who may write alongside
professional reporters, captioners, or CART providers on actual assignments.
Unlike traditional schools, CRAH only charges one fee; whereas, traditional schools charge by the quarter, semester, or credit hour. Therefore, the longer a student takes to complete the training, the more it costs the student. CRAH has no incentive to keep students in training longer. The more quickly a student completes the training, the better we look!
Where will I find employment as a court reporter, captioner, or CART provider?
Court reporting, captioning, and CART providing jobs are primarily found through networking. Infrequently, a position may be listed on a government website for a Federal Official Court Reporter position or in the classified ad section of the NCRA’s website.
When a firm or agency needs help, they often contact reporters or schools. Captioning companies often contact CRAH seeking prospective graduates, and some of our alumni are owners of captioning or CART providing companies who prefer to employ CRAH students.
We are proud to have a 100% placement rate since 2000. All of our graduates have found employment as either a court reporter, captioner, or CART provider.
Court Reporting Certifications
About half of the states in the U.S. require court reporters to be certified by passing either a state-administered exam or the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) exam. Most of those states accept the national exam, the RPR, in lieu of passing their own state-specific exam, but there are some, California, Nevada, and Texas that require their state certification examination be passed in addition to the national certification examination, unless you have trained through a court reporting school located in and approved in Texas.
Some states accept the Skills portion of the RPR exam (tests written on the steno machine and transcribed) but require the reporter to pass a state- administered, multiple choice, written test on academic courses, referred to as a Written Knowledge Exam or WKT Exam.
CRAH provides voluntary exams at the end of each academic lesson which is automatically graded and which provides the student with the correct answer for any question they answered incorrectly. Additionally, students may take the test multiple times, and the questions are automatically scrambled for them.
After taking the tests at the end of each academic lesson, CRAH developed 10 MOCK Written Knowledge Certification Examinations, simulating the NCRA’s national WKT. Those tests, too, are automatically graded, provide the correct answer, and may be taken multiple times. The developer of the CRAH program served on the NCRA Committee that develops the national RPR Certification Examination, and her test was chosen to be administered at the national RPR Exam. Therefore, these MOCK Certification Examinations are excellent to prepare students to pass any state or national Written Knowledge Test. Many CRAH Students pass their certification examinations on the first attempt.
Some certification credentials students may obtain are:
RPR (Registered Professional Reporter)
The entry level certification of RPR establishes your skill as a court reporter and consists of the following parts:
Written Knowledge Test (WKT) – this test covers academics
Skills Test – three 5-minute tests at 180 wpm one-voice Literary dictation, 200 wpm one-voice Jury Charge dictation, and 225 wpm two-voice Testimony or Q&A dictation written on the steno machine and transcribed
CSR (Certified Shorthand Reporter) or CCR (Certified Court Reporter)
CSR or CCR are state-administered exams that closely mirror the national RPR exam. They include a Written Knowledge Test (WKT) and a Skills Test. California and Nevada compel students to pass a WKT and one 10-minute Skills Test based upon 200 wpm four-voice dictation.
Captioning and CART Providing Certifications
A legally-mandated exam is not required for broadcast (closed) captioning, but captioning employers will evaluate a sample of your real-time writing.
Most states don’t require you to pass an exam for CART providing. The few states requiring certification may have a graduated scale of employment based on varying degrees of proficiency such as 160 wpm, 180 wpm, or 200 wpm.
Previously, the NCRA offered an individual test for captioning and CART providing; however, the CBC (Certified Broad Captioner) Exam and the CCP (Certified CART Provider) Exam have been combined into one test to include both careers, the CRC (Certified Realtime Captioner) Exam.
CRC (Certified Realtime Captioner)
The CRC requires the student to attend a CRC Workshop prior to sitting for the exam. This may be accomplished through an online seminar. The skills test consists of literary dictation at 180 wpm with 96 percent accuracy. There is also a Written Knowledge Test.
CRC (Certified Realtime Reporter)
To earn the CRR, you must first pass the RPR Examination, be a current member of the NCRA, and pass a Realtime Testimony (Q&A) Test at 200 wpm with 96 percent accuracy.