What is a Certified Electronic Court Transcriber (CET)?

One of the most important parts of the entire court reporting process is the transcription phase. This is the creation of the final transcript from the recorded information or notes taken by the reporter during the actual court session. Sometimes reporters handle both ends of the process: they take care of both the recording phase and the transcription process. At other times, however, especially in the case of digital or electronic court reporting, the transcription is done by a dedicated professional known as an electronic court transcriber. Since this is a professional specialty all its own, the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers offers a certification in electronic transcription.

About The American Association of Electronic Reporters

Before we get to what this exam entails, it is important to understand the nature of the American Academy of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers and its relation to the industry of court reporting as a whole. Since there are three basic methods used in court reporting – stenography, voice writing, and electronic reporting – there are correspondingly separate large national professional associations that integrate among and network with professionals using these basic methods.

In the case of electronic court reporting, this organization is the AAERT. This association serves as a resource for professionals in the electronic or digital court reporting industry. It provides detailed listings of electronic reporting practitioners around the country, publishes an industry newsletter, assists with employment, provides education, fosters public awareness of the field, and offers certifications.

CET Certification

CET certification serves the function of offering credentialing for those specializing in transcription. It shows that an individual is fully familiar with the digital transcription process and is qualified to practice the profession. This helps, as any other credentialization does, in the perceived employability an individual has in the eyes of employers or clients.

Thus we see that credentialization in the electronic transcription area of electronic court reporting has definite employment advantages. Though electronic court reporting is an industry that generally implements on the job training more than formal educational programs, employers hiring new hirees like to see that these potential employees have a certifiable background in the technologies and procedures. Transcription is just as important a part of the digital court reporting process as the recoding and note taking done during the court session itself, and it has its own skill set and technological processes.

Another advantage of CET certification is that it offers proof of proficiency not only to employers, but to others as well. When a transcriber shows court staff, judges, and attorneys, or a myriad of other individuals involved either in a court proceeding or other event, they can see that a transcriber is prepared to produce good quality transcripts. This is useful both for those in business as transcribers in a freelance, independent sense, and ones for whom court staff or other parties would like to see credentialization before using the transcriber.

The CET Certification Exam

The CET certification exam has both a written and a practical portion. The written portion of the exam is timed and covers three subject areas: vocabulary, legal procedures and principles, and technical aspects. This exam is similar to the CER written portion, but not identical.

In the practical portion of the CET exam, the test taker must produce 10 pages of verbatim transcript from a recorded court session. The test period is 120 minutes, and the 10 pages of transcript must be finished within this time period. The test taker must get better than 98% accuracy for the transcript.

Exam Eligibility

As concerns CET certification exam eligibility, the AAERT requires three things of test takers. First of all they need to have earned at least a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma (i.e. General Education Diploma, etc.). Secondly the individual taking the test needs to be eligible for notary public commissions in their state of residence. Finally, the individual needs to either have a year of experience in reporting or transcription or be referred by an AAERT member or current employer. The referral must be signed and then submitted for approval to the Certification Committee along with the exam application and fee.


There is a one time testing fee of $150 for either the reporter or transcriber exam. The retesting f0r for either the practical or skills portion is $75. So getting certified is not a costly proposition. An individual must only pay their yearly membership fees or dues along with these one time testing costs to be able to sit for the examinations.

Test Results

After you’ve taken the exam, you’ll no doubt be eager to see what your test scores were. However, you will have to wait around four or five weeks before getting your scores. The tests have to be graded by the Certification Committee (all of whom are themselves AAERT certified) and then must be sent out to the addresses of all the applicants. So be patient and your scores will come in around a month.

Continuing Education

A number of professional organizations require their certified members to maintain these certifications by taking continuing education courses. However, this is not the case with the AAERT. The organization has not yet reached a clear enough consensus about what the continuing education requirements should be, if any. So there are no continuing education stipulations other than that the reporter or transcriber remains a member in good standing.

Anyone interested in electronic transcription should definitely familiarize themselves with the AAERT. More information can be found on their web address:http://www.aaert.org/home.htm