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History of Certification
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History of the AAERT Certification Programs

The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) was established in 1994 to provide a forum for the growing body of electronic court reporters and transcribers. AAERT filled a void; other national organizations were not focused on the new technology and methodology of electronic court reporting and transcribing. AAERT's first annual conference took place in April of 1994.

AAERT's board of directors recognized that electronic reporters and transcribers would need to demonstrate a level of competence and that the new association was uniquely qualified to create a certification process.  It established a certification committee to create a certification program.

With assistance from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in Washington, D.C., guidelines were established for recording and transcribing electronic court recordings.  These guidelines were then used to create AAERT's original Best Practices Guide (The original was called AAERT’s Certification Test Study Guide). Additional sources for this guide came from federal court reporting materials, state stenographic and transcriber certification materials, digital recorder vendors, and common legal resources.  The guide used federal guidelines for transcription as its standard, because of the differences found from state to state.

AAERT's board consulted with The Michael Consulting Group on how best to design the certification exam, and the decision was made to provide one exam for transcribers and another for electronic court reporters, and each exam would consist of a theoretical portion and a practical portion.

The newly developed certification program was beta-tested in 1995. As a result of that test, the test and testing process were revised.  Additional questions were prepared, and the resulting exam was the one used for the next 18 years.  The first official certification examinations were given in 1996. Test sites were selected based on demand and were given quarterly.

In 2013, AAERT moved its theoretical exam to a third-party proctor company, Kryterion, making it easier for our members to find a test site closer to home.  The test was expanded to include questions based on audio clips, taking advantage of the technology of a computer-based test, as opposed to the prior pen-and-paper exam.

In 2015, AAERT moved the transcriber practical exams into each members' home. Kryterion acts remotely as a proctor, observing testers via webcam to ensure the integrity of the exam.  This has opened up AAERT certification to many members who previously were unable to access the exam.

The original test format called for three basic certification designations. The first designation was the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER®); the second was the Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET®); anyone who took and passed both exams was given the third designation, Certified Electronic Reporter and Transcriber (CERT). Today, CERT is no longer used; rather, these members use both the CER® and CET® designations.

Since its inception, AAERT has maintained and upgraded its certification program -- from analog to digital, from an in-person format to an online format.   It has upgraded all of its practical examinations, retiring old certification tests and introducing new ones, throughout the years.

Since 1994, hundreds of members in states all across the United States have obtained their electronic/digital certifications through AAERT. Many states have adopted AAERT's certification as an equivalent to their own exam or even replacing their own exams.  Just as first envisioned back in 1994, AAERT has become the authority in electronic and digital court reporting, both in establishing best practices and in certification.


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