In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a court reporter is not required to obtain any specific license or certification. The National Court Reporter’s Association (NCRA) sets national certification standards for court reporting, but Virginia courts look to the Virginia Court Reporting Association (VCRA) for experience, education, and certification standards when hiring court reporters. As such, although a certification is helpful, it is not required.
Canny court reporters will tell you that certification can greatly benefit your reputation and boost your chances of being hired, however.
The Primary Certification Steps for Your Career Benefit
When deciding whether to pursue a certification, there are three options you may want to consider—all of which require extensive representation of your skills. They include choosing the commitment to pursue a certification degree, to work toward a certifiable diploma, or to submit certified letters of recommendation to prove your court reporting qualifications.
- Degree certification. One of the ways to acquire a certification title is to provide proof that you have successfully completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in one of the following programs: court reporting, real-time reporting, or verbatim reporting.
- Diploma certification. The second option for certification involves providing proof that you successfully completed an accredited diploma program from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) or the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA).
- Recommendation certification. The third option to become a Virginia Certified Court Reporter involves proof of skill through accredited letters of recommendation from at least three current Virginia Bar members. These members need to be in good standing with the Virginia Bar, and the letters should attest to the quality of your abilities to effectively perform and complete the duties required of you.
Once you have established your primary credentials, you can then further your development by completing the last two certification steps.
Final Certification Steps
The way you confirm your worth as a court reporter is the same basic process that got you through high school and college: you do your homework and you pass a test. Only for a court reporter, those two tasks are someone specialized:
- Acquire experience. This is the analogy for “homework.” Once you have gathered the necessary education to develop your court reporting skills, you must then gather accredited experience. In order to finish your certification requirements, you must be employed by a certified NCRA, NVRA (National Verbatim Reporting Association), or VCRA court reporting employer for at least two years, whereupon you’ll be expected to demonstrate satisfactory job performance.
- Pass the examination. The final step in pursuing a certification title is to complete the necessary certification exam for your field. You must pass either the Registered Professional Reporter or Certified Verbatim Reporter exam to receive a court reporting certification in Virginia. Furthermore, if you do not pass the exam on the first try, you must continue to test at least once per calendar year until you succeed.
Once you have completed these steps, you can send the required documents and proof of completion (along with an application fee—currently $50) to the Virginia Court Reporter’s Association:
VCRA Certification Program
P.O. Box 3325
Portsmouth, VA 23701
Following verification of your documents, you will then receive notification of your certification status.