Online court reporting degrees, also known as legal transcription degrees, are vocational programs that equip students with skills in creating transcripts of civil and criminal trials and other legal proceedings. Court reporters typically transcribe legal proceedings found on tape recordings, providing a clear and grammatically-correct written account using transcription software.
Course work in a legal transcription degree program will include training in basic office skills, advanced word processing, computer-aided transcription, other legal technology, legal terminology, and English. The curriculum may also explore the U.S. court system as a whole, including civil and criminal procedure, constitutional law, and civil and criminal law. Court reporting focuses on recording speech in real-time using specialized shorthand technology, such as a Stenotype machine.
Legal transcription is more commonly offered as a certificate or diploma program rather than a degree program, although some broader court reporting or paralegal programs may also incorporate legal transcription. This is because no formal education is required to become a legal transcriptionist. However, formal training is still beneficial because employers are looking for strong English grammar skills and an understanding of legal terminology, which are more easily obtained through formal training.
Graduates of court reporting programs may go on to become freelance legal transcriptionists, legal office managers, or legal secretaries whose work involves transcription. Common employers include law firms and private attorney’s offices. Others may find related careers in business transcription, in which they transcribe conference proceedings, voicemails, speeches, and more.