Stenographer vs Court Reporter

As Juliet famously said, “what’s in a name?”  When it comes to choosing between a court reporter and a stenographer, there is a lot in a name.  We often hear the terms used interchangeably, when in fact there are differences.   Both court reporters and stenographers produce verbatim transcriptions of legal proceedings, be it in court, for a deposition, or during a business meeting. However, the terms are different. A court reporter is always a stenographer, but a stenographer isn’t always a court reporter.  Lets look at the differences.

The first difference is in the level of education.  A court reporter requires 2-4 years of formal schooling. They must also pass an official exam and become licensed or certified, depending on the state.  A stenographer is only required to have six months of training.  Court reporters must complete continued education courses to receive certifications and thus, often have a higher understanding of court procedures and processes.

Another difference is duties performed.  A court reporter has specific certifications and in general, have more responsibilities than stenographers in the courtroom. The extra education and license required for court reporters means that they are able to perform other duties beyond transcription in court. They might offer closed-caption services for hearing-impaired individuals, notary services, or perform other administrative tasks. Some court reporters will often do legal research, assist attorneys or judges, and administer oaths to witnesses in court.

Despite these differences, many people still use the terms interchangeably.  However, if you need more than just basic transcription, hiring a certified court reporter is the best bet.