IS MY COURT REPORTER “CERTIFIED”?
When requesting court reporting services from a court reporting agency, many attorneys ask whether a court reporter is “certified.” The answer depends on what is meant by certification.
Professional court reporting services are certified by the National Court Reporters Association, a professional association comprised of court reporters,
legal videographers, and court reporting firms throughout the United States. The NCRA sets standards for professional court reporting and legal videography, establishes ethical rules for the court reporting industry, and offers industry certification and continuing professional training.
The NCRA tests and certifies stenographic court reporters for three designations: Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), and Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR).
- Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
RPR certification is conferred on stenographic court reporters who have proven a base of both technical skill and industry knowledge. It is earned by passing a technical skills examination requiring a court reporter to stenographically record spoken words in three distinct settings and accurately transcribe the recorded words under time pressure. A candidate for RPR certification must record a literary passage at 180 words per minute, a jury charge at 200 words per minute, and testimony – both questions and answers – at 220 words per minute. An RPR candidate must also pass a written knowledge examination testing knowledge on reporting practices, professional practices, and relevant technology. Like all NCRA certifications, RPR certification is subject to continuing education requirements.
Many companies that contract court reporting services now require that court reporting services be delivered by stenographic court reporters with an RPR designation.
- Registered Merit Reporter (RMR)
Once a reporter earns RPR certification, he or she becomes eligible to seek certification as an RMR. RMR certification denotes superior stenographic reporting skill. The technical standard for RMR designation is quite high; only about 3,000 court reporters have earned RMR certification, comprising just 16% of those holding RPR certification.
Candidates for RMR certification must pass a three-part technical skills examination requiring a court reporter to record a literary passage at 200 words per minute, a jury charge at 240 words per minute, and testimony at 260 words per minute. Recorded passages must then be accurately transcribed under time pressure.
- Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR)
RDR is the highest certification awarded to stenographic court reporters. It is reserved for an exclusive group of court reporting professionals who have proven exemplary skills in all facets of court reporting. Only 350 court reporters have earned RDR certification.
Testing for RDR certification is limited to court reporters who have already proven superior technical skill by earning RMR certification. RDR certification is earned by passing a written knowledge examination focusing on three general areas of inquiry: technology, reporting practices, and professional practices. The examination is daunting, delving deeply into topics such as current technology and substantive legal knowledge.
When investigating a court reporter’s certifications, look for these letters.