December 23, 2019

Court Reporting and Transcription Services: How to Decide Which One You Need

By: Colleen Jilio-Ryan | Posted in: court reporting

court reporting and transcription services

Legal transcriptionists and court reporters have similar job descriptions because they both transcribe spoken words in a variety of settings. There are several notable differences, however, that can have an effect on which one you choose to hire for the job. Before hiring a court reporter or a transcriber, it’s important to know which person you need and whether or not they have the right qualifications.


One of the main differences between a legal transcriptionist and a court reporter is the type of training they receive. While a legal transcriptionist normally only needs one to two years of coursework, a court reporter may attend a two or four-year degree program to make sure they have the necessary skills and experience to work in a courtroom setting.

Legal transcriptionists should go the extra step and make sure they receive their certification. Some states may require it for one but not the other. Being certified shows you have the skills to perform your job according to the state-mandated guidelines. In order for a court reporter to work in their chosen profession, they must receive their training through an approved affiliate of the National Court Reporters Association.


Another difference between a legal transcriptionist and a court reporter is the type of equipment each one uses to perform their duties. In order for a transcriptionist to do their work, they usually have a headset and a transcribing machine that allows them to transcribe tapes, recordings or spoken words during a deposition.

A court reporter, on the other hand, will use a steno machine to record what is being spoken in a courtroom setting or in a legal deposition where someone is being interviewed or deposed. Court reporters normally work in live settings where an accurate record must be kept of everything that is being discussed.

Type of Work

While both legal transcriptionists and court reporters transcribe spoken words, a legal transcriptionist can work in a variety of settings. They may even be able to work from home to transcribe documents from video or voice recordings. A court reporter is called for when an exact transcript is required that can be authenticated and used in a legal proceeding.

Before you hire a legal transcriptionist or court reporter, look at both job descriptions and choose the one that best meets your needs. Choosing the wrong one can put you in a bind. If you have questions call your legal transcriptionist or local court reporter to find out if they are capable of performing the job you are hiring for.

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