A Guide to Stenography Training
24 July 2022

A Guide to Stenography Training

When it comes to legal proceedings and court processes, one cannot underestimate the importance of accurate reporting. A slight misinterpretation of terms or error in recording information can significantly affect your case's outcome. That's why you'll find stenographers in courtrooms typing busily to ensure that they get every word right. 

The word "stenography" gets its origin from the Greek words "steno," meaning narrow, and "graphy," meaning writing. So, in other words, stenography means "narrow writing," which we can interpret as shorthand. 

Stenographers are professionals who write in shorthand to record information in real-time. They use stenotypes that allow them to type syllables rather than words.

Stenographers typically type faster than the speed of speech, with some typing as quickly as 375 words per minute. So if you'd like to learn about stenographers and their training, you're in the right place. This guide contains the basics of what you need to know.

What's the Difference Between a Court Reporter and Stenographer?

Court reporters and stenographers perform similar functions in the courtroom, so it's easy to mistake them. You may even find that some persons use them interchangeably to describe a court professional that transcribes testimonies. However, while all court reporters are stenographers, not all stenographers are court reporters. 

We'll explain their differences:

  • Responsibilities 

Court reporters and stenographers have a primary duty to transcribe spoken words and gestures verbatim. However, while stenographers do just that, court reporters do more. 

For example, court reporters have research skills that enable them to assist judges and attorneys in ways that stenographers can't. They may also perform administrative tasks.

  • Place of Work

Court reporters can work outside of the courtroom. For example, they can become freelancers and may work for law firms, TV networks, government agencies, etc.

  • Education 

Education and certification are other significant differentiating factors between stenographers and court reporters. First, stenographers don't require special certification, although some training institutes offer them. Their training typically lasts for about six months.

On the other hand, court reporters require certification and licensing. They also spend longer time in training than stenographers. Generally, court reporters undergo 2 to 4 years of formal schooling.

Based on these factors, court reporters typically earn higher salaries than stenographers. According to BLS, the median annual wage for court reporters was $60,380 as of May 2021. In 2019, the top paying states for court reporters were New York, California, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Maine.

What Are the Different Types of Stenography?

Pitman shorthand, Slone Dupllown, Gregg, and Dutton are the most common types of English shorthand. Stenographers typically use the Pitman and Gregg methods.

  • Pitman Shorthand 

Rather than spelling words, Pitman shorthand creates its alphabets by focusing on the sound of speech (phonetics). This method requires slashes, dots, and thick lines to form words. Pitman shorthand represents consonants and vowels with different symbols.

  • Gregg Shorthand

Gregg shorthand is similar to the Pitman method because it also uses phonetics to form its alphabets. It separates consonant symbols from vowel signs. However, Gregg's method symbolizes words with circles and hooks, unlike Pitman's shorthand.

How Does One Become a Court Stenographer? 

Court stenographers typically pass through these stages to become experts at their jobs:

  • High School Diploma

Anyone aspiring to become a court stenographer must complete high school to begin. In high school, aspiring stenographers can develop reading and writing English proficiency. 

They may also develop essential soft skills like listening and effective communication. Students who wish to become stenographers must aim at a minimum aggregate score of 50% in a recognized board examination.

  • Diploma or Certification Course

After high school, aspiring stenographers need to undergo a stenography certification course or diploma. In this program, they'll learn stenography shorthand, typing, transcription, and English grammar. They must pass a skill test or examination to become full-blown stenographers at the end of their training.

Stenographers should be able to type 25 English words per minute. In shorthand, they should type 80 words per minute. The requirements vary across institutions.

  • Apply for Jobs

Stenographers can start applying for jobs immediately after earning their diploma or certification. Generally, stenographers can apply for entry roles from 18 to 27 years old. 

They may apply for jobs in law firms, medical institutions, government, and private sectors. Stenographers may also decide to be freelancers.

What Skills Are Required in Stenography?

Stenographers require the following skills to excel at their jobs:

  • Detail-Orientedness 

Stenography requires strict attention to detail as they have to transcribe words in real-time. Besides transcribing on the spot, stenographers deal with vital and sensitive information. As such, they must not omit any essential detail and verify that their work is without error.

  • Patience 

Court stenographers require a great deal of patience to perform their jobs correctly. This is because court proceedings typically take long hours to conclude. However,  court stenographers must maintain high concentration levels throughout regardless of how long a proceeding stretches. Also, they must be patient enough to avoid missing anything.

  • Listening Skills 

Stenographers can only transcribe what they hear. Therefore, they must possess impeccable listening skills regardless of how fast or slow the speaker talks. Excellent listening also mandates that court stenographers understand the speaker's accents and legal jargon.

  • Transcription Skills 

Transcription is the heart of stenography, and stenographers must master it. They must understand the best practices and various techniques required to transcribe correctly. In addition, stenographers must learn to type faster than the speed of speech.

  • Written Communication

Finally, written communication is another essential skill that court stenographers must possess. They must have a good command of English or any other language they must transcribe in. Court stenographers should also understand grammar, punctuation, and spelling.


There's no doubt that technology and computers have become integral parts of our lives. However, they're not yet as accurate as we need them to be — especially when writing transcripts in the courtroom. That's why you need stenographers to manage the process to ensure there are no mistakes with recordings.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide to stenography training. So, if you are interested in becoming one, you now know about stenographers and some of what you should expect if you choose this career path.

If you’re in need of court reporting or stenography services, we’re here to help. Contact the professionals from the CourtReporters.com team here to learn more.