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How to Become a Court Reporter in Honolulu

by Hassan Ali

A court reporter, shorthand reporter, or stenographer is a skilled professional who transcribes spoken/recorded speech into formally written words. Stenographers work during depositions, court hearings, and other proceedings and use various tools, including shorthand machine and voice writing equipment. Here are five steps to complete if you’re interested in becoming a shorthand reporter in Honolulu, Hawaii:

1.    Know the Requirements & Training Needed

To become a stenographer you must meet all state requirements, complete training and internship, pass a knowledge test and apply for a license. Hawaii has aligned its licensing requirements with those provided by the NCRA (National Court Reporters Association). You’ll need to meet all requirements provided by the Hawaii State Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters and the RPR (Registered Professional Reporter).

If you’re interested in becoming a shorthand reporter in Honolulu, you must first earn the RPR by completing an exam. The exam demonstrates you have skills for the court reporting job. RPR is designed by the NCRA, which maintains a nationwide list of credible training programs for RPR certification.

Completing the RPR allows you to undergo the licensure process. Honolulu court reporters are licensed by the Hawaii State Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters.

2.    Choose A Court Reporting Career Path

Before enrolling to become a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), you need to choose a specialized career path. Most programs feature separate career paths, including judicial reporting, closed (broadcast) captioning, and communication access real-time reporting (CART). Other paths include stenography and voice writing. Judicial reporting involves transcribing court proceedings, administrative hearings, and depositions.

Closed (broadcast) captioning involves typing broadcast network live feed, while CART is specialized captioning for the deaf or hard of hearing. Stenography uses a stenotype machine and computer for judicial reporting, CART, and closed (broadcast) captioning. Lastly, voice writing uses a steno mask device. The reporter’s voice is fed directly to voice recognition software and translated to written words via a laptop.

3.    Become a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)

Once you choose a career path, the next step is to enroll in a court reporting program to become an RPR. The National Court Reporters Association has a list of all approved colleges, technical schools, universities, and dedicated court reporting schools.

You can learn in Honolulu or attend schools on the mainland. Online programs are also available. To become an RPR, you must complete training and pass the NCRA RPR certification exam. 

The certification exam features a written knowledge test and a skills test. The written knowledge test features 120 questions covering ethics, professional practices, reporting practices, and technology. Skill tests evaluate transcription speed and accuracy, where you’re given mock situation recordings to transcribe with a 95% accuracy rate. You’ll need to complete coursework in the following areas:

•    English grammar, spelling, and punctuation

•    Legal studies

•    Legal & medical terminology

•    Court reporting procedures

•    Transcript preparation and procedures

•    Shorthand and captioning

•    Communication access to real-time reporting 

•    Word processing and communication 

4.    Complete Your Internship

An internship is a next step after completing training and passing the RPR exam. You can work as a freelancer or directly with the judiciary. Becoming an NCRA-certified RPR is the first step to obtaining a license from the Hawaii Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters.

If you decide to work as a freelancer, you must be a resident in Hawaii with a local address and a notary bond. Fill out the notary application online, pass the test and obtain a surety bond. 

You can skip the notary if you plan to work directly with the judiciary. An internship isn’t mandatory but helps you apply what’s learned in training to the real world. You’ll work under a licensed/experienced court reporter, providing you with professional settings faced once you become licensed. Aim for the best internship locations for your career path. If you intend to report during trials, find internships in courthouses.

5.    Submit Your Application & Renew Certification

Completing training, becoming an RPR, and gaining experience through internships should leave you confident enough to apply for a license. You can complete the application with the Hawaii Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters to become a registered stenographer in Honolulu.

The application involves filling out a form, providing proof of RPR certification by the NCRA, and paying an application fee. You must also pass a written knowledge test in Hawaii.

The test includes the island’s language vocabulary, geographic facts, history, and trivia. If everything is in order, the Hawaii State Board of Certified Shorthand Reporters will issue your registration license.

You must then renew certifications annually with the board and the NCRA. Hawaii also expects shorthand reporters to complete three CEUs (continuing education units) every three years. Make sure you keep tabs on the latest legislation.

Working With a Reputable Court Reporter

Corporation litigation departments and in-house counsels in Hawaii rely on the services of a court reporter for depositions and proceedings.

Full-service court reporting companies leverage modern technology to streamline operations. If you’re looking to become a shorthand reporter, you should learn from the best. Working with reputable reporters can help you master the trade and secure positions in leading institutions.

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