How Long Does Court Reporting School Take?

Q: I am interested in finding out as much as possible about how to become a court reporter. How long does it typically take to become one?

A: The short answer is it depends. Keep reading for the long answer...
Thanks for writing to me! I really appreciate your question because I had the same ones before enrolling in court reporting school way back in 1993. Wow, I can hardly believe it's been 14 years since starting out on this journey. While it's been challenging and difficult at times, I have never regretted my decision to enter into this field. No, not even once!

There are a ton of resources available online for the interested court reporting student. Just hit Google with search terms like court reporting schools in your area and you will find the nearest schools to you. If you happen to live in Southern California, I always recommend South Coast College which is where I attended. There are some great schools in northern California as well like Humphreys, Argonaut, Golden State and others.

Don't let anyone fool you. Court reporting school is hard and can take as long as it takes. I've heard of students doing it in 2 years but that is not the norm. I personally took 4 years. Plus then I had to pass the California test which took me 1.5 years more. So all total, my journey from the day I entered court reporting school to the day I had a license was nearly 6 years.Again, everyone is different. No two people have the same trek through school. So hopefully, you will be closer to the Two Year Plan rather than the Todd Six Plan. :) (My biggest problem was that I was not focused enough on school to make it my priority. I was never one to let school get in the way of my distractions. Do not be like me and you will be better off for it!)

Good luck and feel free to drop me a line with any more questions that you have.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

  Comment by Todd Olivas | Friday, November 9, 2007
Dear Debbie:

Great question. You’re not the only one who has had a relapse of the steno bug after a “long” absence. I’ve met many working reporters who perhaps got licensed and then subsequently “retired” to have children and/or different careers. I am not a scientist but I believe the skill is still in you — even after lying dormant for awhile. The muscle memory will have to be refreshed of course. You can do that by heading back to school. I know many schools will allow you to sit in on dictation without paying full price — free, perhaps.

I would personally set course back to the field by doing the following: for every year that you’ve been off your machine, plan to spend a month in practice mode. And practice mode should consist of attending live dictation at school, sitting out in either court or in depositions. Also, get out your theory book and get back to basics. Do a theory lesson or two each day during this entire process. And read back your notes. If you are making consistent errors, how would you know unless you read your notes!

DO NOT SPEND ANY MONEY on fancy machines and CAT software until you are sure that you’re ready. If you don’t have a machine whatsoever, get a cheapy manual one until you’re really, really ready to re-take the plunge. See ebay or craigslist for manual machines for sale.

Finally, get plugged back in to the industry by joining the NCRA and/or online communities geared towards court reporting.

Best of luck!!


  Comment by Debbie R. | Sunday, October 7, 2007

What would you recommend to someone who wants to get back into the field of court reporting after a *long* absence? I am looking at machines and CAT software, and don’t have money to throw away — who does — so I want to make wise choices.

I was an RPR/CM (now called RMR) when I left employment at a freelance agency many years ago. My machine was provided and I had a scopist. So much has changed, and I want to bring myself back up to speed.

  Comment by Zoila | Thursday, June 5, 2008
Hi Todd, I am so happy to have found this website. I recently graduated from school, and now I don`t know where to go or what to do. I contacted several court reporters and will begin doing some more interning. I also enrolled in the NCRA, but do not understand the CEU`s and how to keep up with that. Where can I read more of the procedures to follow? I will be taking the RPR test this November. In this state, you don`t have to have your RPR to find work, but some places do require it. I want to look for employment but feel that since I don`t have the RPR, they will not even bother with me. I need to start working very soon... I guess I am just feeling desperate and overwhelmed. Please help.
  Comment by Todd Olivas | Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hi Zoila,

Thank you for writing to me.  I would love to help.  First, some encouragement:  Nobody has it all figured out right out of school.  You are already well on your way to succeeding in this career since you have graduated from court reporting school and are beginning to do some interning.  You`ve even got the RPR test coming up.  You sound like a very motivated person who will find her path to the goals you have set.  Congrats!

Second, here is what I would do if I were you:

  • I would contact the NCRA and ask them to explain the way the CEUs work.  They are a very helpful organization and are expert at guiding young reporters.
  • I would visit their website at  This website is a great resource for helping you know which procedures to follow as well as court reporter ethics.
  • Since November is right around the corner and the RPR test will be here, I would be sure to keep up my speed by practicing drills and reviewing my theory. 
  • Also, if at all possible, I`d try to step back into school for some live dictation.

You didn`t mention what state you live in, but I`m sure there are a ton of helpful agencies who would be willing to mentor you along until you`re 100% ready to work.  I hope that helps.  There is no need to feel desperate and overwhelmed because there are a lot of resources at your disposal to help.  Take full advantage of it all and take care!


  Comment by adreinne coffer | Saturday, October 25, 2008
I`m thinking about getting back in to court reporting again. I went to school about ten years ago but didn`t finish and I really want to start again. The problem is I`m 40 and wonder if I`m too old to change careers?
  Comment by Miriam LindsaY | Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My name is Miriam and I am looking into court reporting school. I have worked and been around law enforcement for the last few years and I am trying to get something a little more normal in schedule now that I have two children to care for. You mentioned knowing some good school in Northern California... can you recommend any????

I am totally 100% motivated to do this... any tips???

Thanks again,

Miriam Lindsay

  Comment by Todd Olivas | Friday, November 21, 2008

Dear Miriam,

I am really excited for you to embark on a career in court reporting. I`ve said this many times but here I go again: Court reporting saved my life. I had no idea what I wanted to do (other than become a rock star) in my early 20s. Thank God, He showed me this career!

Congratulations on your two kids as well. I believe being a freelance reporter affords a great deal of flexibility that you`re going to need raising those two young ones.

As far as northern California schools, I can`t personally recommend any one of them over another.  The reason, of course, is that I`ve not attended them as a student.  I am a graduate of a Southern California school called South Coast College which I highly recommend.  Still, in my travels as a guest speaker, I have visited many schools in northern California including the following:

I hope this helps!

  Comment by Biana Yuzhuk | Tuesday, February 3, 2009

HI Todd,

My naME IS Biana and I am in school for Court Reporting and is in my second semester taking Advanced Theory. I did very well in theory and now I am having a little more difficult time keeping up. I started working full time as well. DO you recomend not working full time while in school? I`ve been noticing I have only been putting about 4 hours a week on my machine outside the class. I laso have trouble woth the briefs.. Any advice?

  Comment by Todd Olivas | Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Biana - congratulations on taking Advanced Theory!  Stick with it; do the program as explicitly as your instructors dictate; practice as much as you can and you`ll get through.
As far as working full time while in school, here is what I would consider to be the ultimate immersion experience for getting through school quickly: Eat, sleep and breath steno.
My general rule is the fewer distractions you have, the faster you will get out of school.  That being said, if you must work, then by all means, work.  But if there is any way that you could quit or work part-time, that would be preferable as your distraction level will decrease as your speed increases.
Also, I don`t think 4 hours a week on your machine outside of class is enough.  What about weekends?  You could do 4 hours each day which would add 8 hours to your current 4, giving you 12.  What do you think?
In a nutshell: Practice, practice, practice.

  Comment by Linda Martinelli | Monday, March 16, 2009
Hi, I live in New York and am thinking of moving to Southern CA in about 2 years. I have been a court reporter in New York for over 15 years. Do I need to take the CA State test or can I apply for my CA license with proof of my work experience? This is my life and I don`t want to give it up and the thought of going back to school to prepare for the test....well, you can understand. Please advise. Thanks, Linda.
  Comment by Todd Olivas | Monday, March 16, 2009

Hi, Linda

Your first stop is to go to to gather all the current info and relevant applications. You will definitely have to take the CA test, but the good news is that it is now given more times per year than when I was in school. Previously, it was a six-month wait between tests.  Ouch! Now I believe the machine portion is given three times and the written (academic portion) is administered at third-party testing sites at any time. Best of luck and welcome to California!

  Comment by Kimberly Martin | Monday, May 4, 2009
Hi Todd, I am interested in court reporting but, I am new to the field.

I have no idea where to begin to look for training or find out more info do you have any suggestions.

Thanks, Kimberly.

  Comment by Laura | Thursday, May 21, 2009
I am 44 and interested in court reporting. I have an associates degree, a paralegal degree and am re-entering the work force after 15 years off. Is court reporting still in demand and since I live in Utah and there are no schools here, do you recommend online schools?
  Comment by CeeJay | Monday, October 12, 2009


I am 46. If I start now and finish CR schoolin say....5 years... will that make me TOO OLD to be hire material...even if I`m good?



  Comment by tammie frizzell | Sunday, December 20, 2009
Hi! I am in Oklahoma studying court reporting, but plan to move east when I finish. Some states have different requirements - how do I find out what each state`s requirements for licensure are?

Great website - nice to know we have a friend out there in the business!


  Comment by Todd Olivas | Sunday, December 20, 2009

When you`re ready to start researching the various requirements, I`d suggest just using Google to search for court reporters board New Jersey (as an example.) Then read all you can on that particular board`s site. That`s what I`d do.

Good luck!

  Comment by alexandria | Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hi my name is Alex, and I`m thinking about being a court reporter. I have a lot of questions, --does it pay good? is it hard? do you like it?
i want to make good money ya know and i wanna be intelligent(: i was going to become a Lawyer because i like to argue and everything but i didnt want to have student loans and things like that....i didnt want to pay them back i may be only 16 going on to 17 in three months but i know what i want in life and what i want to be and im going to get there no matter how hard i try and do school work i just wanted a professionals opionion! thank you
-alex marie

  Comment by Suzanne Leon | Saturday, January 23, 2010
I am considering re-entering the field of deposition reporting after taking 14 years off. My problem is that the theory I learned at South Coast College of Court Reporting is different than at Bryan College in Sacramento. I`m not sure I could learn a new way to write. I would have to go back to school to regain my skills. I kept my certification current but so much has changed since I`ve worked. Should I take the plunge?
  Comment by Marina | Monday, February 1, 2010

Ten years ago, I was very interested in becoming a Court Reporter but I was told that it was a dying field. I have been looking into it again. What is your take on the outcome for Court Reporters? Thank you for your time.

  Comment by Kris | Thursday, February 4, 2010
Hi Todd,

In your experience in traveling through different court reporting schools, do you think that there`s a big difference between public and private institutions? I`m trying to decide what`s the right choice for me--whether to go to an affordable public school where I can dedicate myself full-time or go to a private one which requires me to get a loan and work.

  Comment by Todd | Tuesday, February 9, 2010
To Kris - Yes. There is a big difference.  Many are obvious and too many to list here.  As a general rule of thumb... I would say, go to the best school you can afford given the other realities of your life.
  Comment by Dawn | Monday, March 15, 2010
Hello Todd - I am 54 yrs. old, and in school at Alfred Tech. in their on-line course. I hope to complete this course in 2 l/2 yrs. Is there any need for a court reporter who is 56 or 57 yrs. Old.?
  Comment by Melanie | Thursday, April 22, 2010
Hello Todd,

I was taking Court Reporting classes in NY but only made it to Advanced Theory and had to leave because I became pregnant and my husband is the ARMY and we had to move to GA. I really want to get back into it but cannot go to school because we don`t have anyone to care for our 6 month old son, I am considering taking online classes.Do you recommend the online classes or is this something that needs to be taught in a classroom only?

Would really love to hear your opinion. Thanks so much -Melanie

  Comment by Shandra Porter | Friday, April 23, 2010
Hello Todd,
I am in my 1st semester of training to become a voice court reporter. I love the classes thus far but really need to finish school and make a transition back into the workforce as soon as possible. Is it really true that the voice approach for court reporting is faster than the Steno approach? Also, what are your thoughts on testing for Court Reporter certification before completing school, given I feel prepared before 2 yrs?

  Comment by alice | Monday, May 24, 2010
Is it possible for someone to go to school full time and work full time while in school for CR? Or is that wanting to much?
  Comment by jennifer | Monday, July 12, 2010
Hi :)
I started school back in September of 2004. I too had to take some time off to have a son after two years of schooling. I started back exactly one year ago. I sat back to 80. With a lot of hard work I am now at 160. I am a single mother working full time. It has been quite the challenge.
I was very recently informed that you only have 18 quarters of schooling and only $57K in student loans to complete the certificate program. I`m now scrambling to secure my $50K investment... EVERYONE please make sure you check your school/state`s requirements and guidelines for exactly how long you have to complete your program!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Needless to say, this tiny detail was not in bold print in the school`s handbook...
I`m not trying to knock the program at all. It`s just a very important fact that you should be aware of before starting this program. I love t his field and I am praying that I am able to pull it off before my time is up!

  Comment by Suzanne White | Thursday, October 21, 2010
I am a 64 year old woman considering going to court reporting achool. This has been a life long desire of mine but while raising 4 children on my own was never able to attain it. What do you think about this? Am I too old to start a new career? I have early training in shorthand (120 wpm), typing (90 wpm) and business machines and while those were my best speeds when younger, I am very quick on a keyboard today. Thanks for your input
  Comment by Todd A. | Thursday, November 11, 2010
Suzanne, I say go for it. If this has been a life long dream and now you have the time, why not pursue it? I`m not an expert on age and whether developing skills is easier whether one is older or younger, but if you have the will, I believe there is a way.
  Comment by Brandy Sue | Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is what I have been looking for, someone who has gone through it to offer advice who isn`t pushing a specific school on you. My main concern is the high drop out rate I keep hearing about. Is it really that challenging to hit the speed they require for certification? I would have to take online courses and still work full time while I pursue this, but I am really considering it as a career. I keep hearing 3 years - 5 years and it basically boils down to how much you practice and how fast your speed improves. I understand the job placement after obtaining your certification is excellent, but the drop out rate is high and that is what is intimidating me. I am not a quitter and would like to think that the avergae, dedicated person can pull it off. What are your thoughts?
Would love to hear your insight regarding the drop out rates vs the % of people who actually become certified. Also if the complete online school is a wise choice. I spoke with someone from Bryan College and they say that the whole thing can be done online. Is this a bad choice?
Thanks - Brandy

  Comment by Joanna Suero | Saturday, January 1, 2011
Dear Todd:

I am 55.5 years old and am beginning the course to become a stenographer. What is your honest opinion of the age factor. Fortunately, I am healthy. I have had a desire to do this for about 3 years. I have a Masters degree in writing/journalism. I know that it will probably take at least 2 years. WOuld your company hire someone age 57 to work at your agency? Thank you for your honest opinion.

  Comment by Ernestine | Friday, February 25, 2011
I am a 55 year old lady that wants a career change. I`ve worked for over 20 years as an Administrative Assistant & Customer Service field. I want to go to Court reporting school, is it really a demand field.
  Comment by Kathy | Friday, May 27, 2011

I am interested in attending school and becoming a California CSR but there are no brick-and-mortar schools close enough to me to attend and I can`t move. Because there are so few schools these days, do you know if there is even a requirement that you attend a school or can you just be prepared and apply, take the tests and hopefully pass? Any info you have is helpful. The state website just says if you attend a school but doesn`t say if you DON`T attend a school. Thanks!

  Comment by Vicki | Monday, September 26, 2011
My name is Vicki

I was reading some of the questions to you, and some of the questions are simular to my situration. I`m 54 years old and worked as a Youth Care Profession for 24 years, I was laid
off. My questions are as followed:

1. At my age is it fesiable to go to school for? court reporter?

2. Is it wise to take the class on line?

These questions was asked by others, but there no comments from you.


  Comment by Vinny | Saturday, October 22, 2011
Todd you are a good man and you rock for being so helpful to people.
  Comment by Lmclelland | Thursday, December 15, 2011
Please respond to the older generation looking into the court reporting field
  Comment by Kimberly | Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I do not see any responses for the past year from Todd. Is this site still up and running?
  Comment by Todd Olivas | Friday, January 13, 2012
Hi, Kimberly. Yes, I am alive and well. To paraphrase Mark Twain: The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
  Comment by Athena | Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Hi Todd! I am currently attending South Coast College and I am in Advanced Theory. I have started my speed testing which is exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time. I have a question for you regarding Bryan College. Although I love South Coast, I may be starting a job in Santa Monica and I know there would be no way for me to make it from Santa Monica to Orange for a 6:00 pm class. I looked up the college and it has a 1 star review on Yelp. Would you recomment it or any other school based out of LA?

It`s a tough decision but I want to stick with court reporting and need to do anything I can to continue goign to school.

Thank you!

  Comment by kim cobbler | Monday, March 12, 2012
Hello Todd,
My name is Kim and I`m recently married with a 3 year old son. I work full time and I`m extremely tired of not making enough money to send my son to school. I plan to have more children in the future and I want to be able to have a flexible job so I can see my kids grow up. I have an appointment to meet with an advisory at the nyci in nyc and I`m scared that Im gonna drop this like I did everything else. Do you think this is a good move?

  Comment by S.S | Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Hey Todd, I`ve been at court reproting from i was 17, im currently 21 going on 22 this year and its been a rough road. I truly believe that this is my calling. I live in The Bahamas and there is absolutly NO GOOD SCHOOLS at all. Either they dont care or they dont know what they are doing. But currently i am attending classes at a court reporter house she has been working for 25 years so i decided to try her. im renting her machine and im using the CAT system, so hopefully im done real soon.. IM TIRED BUT I DONT WANT TO GIVE UP ON MY LIFE.. I LOVE COURT REPORTING IT DEFINES ME. ANY ADVICE?
  Comment by Angela Fox | Saturday, June 30, 2012
Hi Todd, here is a story for you that I have been wanting to tell to someone... I went to the [] back in 1982. Then it was located in []near []. I took out a $2000.00 student loan. I attended about two years. Finished all classes. Was working on my speed and looking forward to an upcoming test. Ok, get this, in 1982 we were in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. There was a story in the Orange County Register about one of the first females to die this way. Sue Peterson wrote the story. Robin Pierce was the victim. Our family knew Robin and the reporter, Sue interviewed our family. Next, the Court Reporting School called me in the office and said that students and staff there were not comfortable with me attending there. They were worried about getting AIDS from me somehow. I left that day and never went back. My $2000.00 student loan that I had almost paid off, owing around $200.00 is now over $13,000.00. I was in quite a shock for a long while. Eventually married, had two children now in their 20`s. My entire family gets mean calls from bill collectors wanting their $13,000.00. They always take any money I have owed to me, tax returns, my Obama Stimulus check, etc. The way I figure it they owe me about $400.00. Lol There you go, that`s my story.
  Comment by Bamford Reporting Service | Friday, January 25, 2013
The simplest thing I can say is despite how long it takes... it is worth it!
  Comment by Robert Bass | Sunday, February 16, 2014
Todd--- my name is Robert...i am 55 years old and a paraplegic..... i have not even started school...that is even if i could at my age...but i am wondering about i too old?

Realistically what are my chances?

thank you very much
Robert Bass

  Comment by rita | Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Can you become a court reporter after 45 years old.
  Comment by Toni C | Tuesday, April 7, 2015
This post is not for Todd. It is for all those who are writing and asking if they might be too old to start a new career. A few years ago I read a news article about a woman who graduated from law school at the age of 91. She didn`t think she was too old to start a new career and neither should you!
  Comment by Gina G | Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Hi everyone, I am currently attending a Court reporting school however it is all online so it`s at my own pace. I was wondering how long did it take for most of you to graduate? how many hours of speed building would you have to put in for a day?? I started speed building in April of this year so I`m somewhat comfortable at 80 wpm.. I`ve been working on 120 wpm and I`m all over the place. Hope to hear back from some of you, Thank you..
  Comment by Jessica A Taylor | Saturday, November 19, 2016
I everyone I can decide which school to attend. I`m noticing that most of all the schools I see don`t have a tuition listed annually in stone, and I`m noticing that most people are saying it takes longer than 2 years..... I`m presently trying to decide between sage, Bryan, and South coast college. I saw a message on YouTube that said I should ask about the number of test weekly, how much tuition is annually, what theory they teach, and what`s the rate of accuracy to pass. The recording also mentioned anything beyond 95 percent was excessive and nearly impossible unless u like in CA. Idk which way to go here.. HELP
  Comment by Shelley Woods | Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Hey Todd,

I am wondering if you have any knowledge about online court reporting schools and how efficient/effective they are. Actually, if anyone on here has had any experience I would appreciate any feedback.

Thank you!

  Comment by mark w gerson | Friday, May 12, 2017
Thanks for the great blog on court reporting school. I own Legal Transcription Services company. I`m sure some of your readers would find our low cost legal transcription options to be a great value for their company.

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