I got started in this field (court reporting/transcription work) back in 1999, when a friend of mine noticed that my e-mails were always (well, mostly) well-written and had few, if any, errors ... so she recommended that I interview with her boss, a court reporter in downtown Seattle, who was taking on transcription work.
So I interviewed with her, got a trial (big case, and my friend needed the help!), learned to use AristoCAT (a DOS version, no less!), and transcribed a rather lengthy trial that had been video-taped, and apparently did an okay job. She corrected (with pen and ink) my blunders and explained the 'whys and wherefores' of each fix, and I fixed them and that was that.
Eventually, she suggested that I give up on that technical writing thing I was working on at the time, and become a court reporter ... but I was nearly done with the program, so I declined ... then things went south in the tech field, so I started at a local CR school.
Eventually I gained enough speed to use my steno machine, but AristoCAT's DOS version wouldn't import my dictionary ... and neither would their new Windows version (it will now, I'm told, though I don't think my boss has upgraded yet), so I did my transcripts in digitalCAT and gave her an ASCII ... and, with some trial and error, we figured out which type of ASCII AristoCAT liked from digitalCAT (I think it was the Page Image format, but don't quote me).
As far as training before getting the job, I had been writing something or other for a good portion of my life: Loved reading (I was rarely seen without a book all through elementary, middle school and high school) ... and, in fact, some test I took revealed that when I was in the 6th grade, I was reading on the level of an 11th grader ... so having a good command of the English language (and error-free e-mails) worked for me.
Now then ... to address the "E-Reporter" field, I can't really speak to that, beyond giving a hazy definition:
E-Reporters basically do what I was doing for my boss: Type up audio- and video-taped court proceedings using a QWERTY keyboard (though some use steno keyboards) and foot-controlled playback devices. I hear there is some sort of certification -- the name of which escapes me (sorry!) ... but there are some agencies that aren't certified, and aren't run by working reporters (as mine was), so there's always a chance of ... well, a bad transcript.
The good agencies, of course, train their employees somewhat ... but if the language/grammar skills just aren't there, it's an uphill battle ... and it's far easier to find and train someone that has that basic grasp of grammar and train them than to start from zero.
Finally, there is another type of E-Reporter: The type that sits in a taped (audio or video) court room and pushes the Record button.
You don't want that kind of job.
Hopefully someone else can chime in here and adjust what I've written ... but in the meantime, hope this helps!
Thanks Glen. I appreciate the information. I am training to be a court reporter, and I've been surprised at all the ways the job can get done. I had heard about e-reporting and transcribing and was curious about it. I currently work as a medical transcriptionist and have often wondered if I would prefer working with the transcripts than actually working as a reporter. Anyway, thanks again for the info.
The American Association of Electronic Recorders and Transcribers is the organization that represents certified e-recorders and e-transcribers. Glen is exactly right about the characteristics of someone who could succeed in that field. I bet you were nodding your head when you read his post! I certainly was. (Hi, there, Glen!)
If you go to AAERT's website, you'll find loads of information and answers. The highest-quality firms that do electronic recording/transcribing want excellent people to do it. I didn't pursue AAERT certification for E-transcriber, but they put out an excellent guide for punctuating and formatting legal transcripts (prep for their certification exam) which I think would be a good extra reference for CR students, scopists, and proofreaders. The people in AAERT I contacted for information were professional, precise, and very interested in upholding standards in their field. One man took the time to describe all facets of the jobs to me. He enjoyed the transcribing/formatting/production end of the work but didn't care for the recording part. His partner did the "inside" work in the courtroom, recording, marking, Speaker IDs, interrupting when necessary to ensure clean recording, everything. They'd been doing this for many years. AAERT has exams for just e-recorder, just e-transcriber, or both/and.
I'm a student of machine steno in California, a CSR state, with plans to concurrently do Case CAT scoping. It just makes sense to me to be supportive of professional standards in producing the record, no matter what method is used to make it. So that's why I suggested AAERT as a resource. Good luck, whatever you decide. Sounds like you'd be very good at it.