The Importance of Court Reporter Certification

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By Nancy J. Hopp, RDR, CRR, Realtime Systems Administrator, Certified Manager of Reporting Services, Alaris President

May is a month of many celebrations.  It’s also the month when the National Court Reporters Association celebrates professional certifications.  In the United States, only about half of the states, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas among them, require licensure through steno skill and general knowledge exams.  For those states that do not, the various NCRA national certifications give attorneys confidence that their court reporter meets national standards.  Because NCRA is recognized as the national leader in promoting excellence in stenographic reporting, many court reporters even in states with their own mandatory licensure, including Alaris-affiliated reporters, pursue NCRA certifications as well.

The NCRA offers a variety of certifications. The Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) designations reflect two levels of steno speed skills (225 and 260 words per minute, respectively) in addition to written knowledge testing.  The Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) certification signifies proficiency in producing a near-flawless realtime text feed of testimony to attorneys’ laptops and iPads.  Those reporters who attain the Realtime Systems Administrator designation have been tested on their understanding of technology and their ability to troubleshoot realtime connections.  NCRA’s highest degree of experience and knowledge testing is epitomized by the Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR) certification, which requires the RPR and RMR as prerequisites.

Court reporter Rebecca Brewer, RPR, CRR, takes pride in her certifications, stating, “It’s an accomplishment that no one can take away from you.”  With the CRR under her belt, Rebecca has also been able to enjoy TV captioning work, in addition to judicial reporting.

JoAnn Dickson, RPR, expresses much the same sentiment: “My RPR makes me feel much more professional and shows that I’m proficient in my field.”  It has also led to conversations with attorneys about the continuing education requirements mandated by NCRA.

Reporting in Florida, Texas and Missouri required Julie Whiting, RPR, to take several state certification tests.  “But when I saw the email from NCRA offering RPR testing from home, I gave it a shot and passed each leg on the first try.”

“I think it’s important to stay current with the latest developments in technology and information,” says Lei Ann Odom, RMR, CRR.  “I’ve received some jobs because of my national certifications, and when asked to find reporters in other states, I always look at certifications before referring.”

Paula Voyles, RPR, CRR, attended a school that emphasized the importance of attaining certifications.  She states, “I feel more secure in my skills by having national certifications, and participants in matters not requiring state certifications have exhibited confidence in hiring a nationally-certified reporter.”

California native Renée Quinby, RDR, CRR, Realtime Systems Administrator, passed the RPR before becoming eligible to take that state’s certification test.  Then while practicing for the California exam, she increased her speed and accuracy even further and passed the RMR, too, later adding the CRR and Realtime Systems Administrator designations to her credentials.  “I feel confident that when I’m in a situation where I have to interrupt the testimony, it’s not because of a lack of skill on my part.”

Personal satisfaction, as well as a salary increase in Federal Court, spurred Sally Rudolf on to achieve her RPR and RMR certifications.

For Ashley Huelsmann, her RPR opened up the option to work in multiple states.  “Many of my fellow reporting colleagues have the same certification, so I think there’s a mutual respect.”

A relatively new reporter, Emily Bergren was inspired to attain her RPR and CRR by teachers who emphasized the importance of becoming certified.  “It’s a rewarding accomplishment to add nationally recognized credentials to your business card.”

Despite the importance of these certifications to many reporters, others in the legal field remain largely unaware of their import.  “The most common question I hear is, ‘What are all those letters after your name?’” notes Renée Quinby, and an attorney once asked me if “Registered Diplomate Reporter” meant that I had worked at the United Nations.

But savvy legal professionals use NCRA certifications as a benchmark in seeking out the most accomplished and proficient reporters.  Ann Marie Hollo, RDR, CRR, also cites a highly sought-after trucking industry expert witness who requests reporters with the RMR certification “because he realizes he has a problem of talking too fast.” 

Regardless of a legal professional’s unfamiliarity with the various NCRA certifications, attorneys and other consumers of court reporting services can rest assured that ‘all those letters’ reflect highly developed steno skills and a commitment to professionalism.

For more information on NCRA certifications, visit the NCRA Certification page.