Broadcast Captioner: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a broadcast captioner. Learn about job duties, education requirements, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Broadcast Captioner?

Broadcast captioners provide real-time text captions for the dialogue in TV programs. To do so, they use stenography machines that capture spoken words and transcribe them into text. They also make note of gestures and actions and transcribe those as well. After a job, captioners check their notes to ensure dialogue is correctly attributed to the right speaker. Outside of broadcasting, they may also work in courts and classrooms. The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a broadcast captioner.

Degree Required Post-secondary certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Court reporting, broadcast captioning, or Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART)
Key Responsibilities Make accurate, verbatim real-time transcript of television program or movie dialogue
Certification Professional certification may be preferred or required by employers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% for all court reporters*
Median Salary (2015) $49,500 for all court reporters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would My Duties as a Broadcast Captioner Include?

A broadcast captioner uses specialized software and equipment called a stenotype machine; it is the same type of equipment used by court reporters. Other names for the profession include closed caption writers, stenocaptioners or voice writers. The captioner most frequently produces almost real-time text during television programming for viewers with hearing disabilities. Captioners may also produce offline text of regular television shows that are not broadcast live.

What Type of Training Do I Need?

You may pursue training as a broadcast captioner through completion of certificate or associate's degree programs in court reporting, since programs specific to broadcast captioning are not widely available. The training is offered in both the traditional classroom setting and via distance-learning formats. Some programs require completion of an internship. The National Court Reporter's Association (NCRA) certifies some training programs to attest to their stringent requirements for graduation. For example, you must type 225 words per minute to successfully complete a certified training program.

How Could I Advance My Career?

Voluntary certification is available through the NCRA. Credentials appropriate for broadcast captioners include the Certified Broadcast Captioner, Certified Realtime Reporter, or Certified Communications Access Real-time Translation (CART) Reporter. A CART reporter provides captioning not only for television programming, but also at conventions or in classes where the hearing disabled need such services. Certification applicants must have completed an accredited program and an examination.

What Is My Career and Salary Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), during the 2014-2024 decade, a two percent increase in new positions was expected for court reporters, which includes broadcast captioners. May 2015 data from the BLS showed that most court reporters earned a median salary of $49,500.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Two areas related to broadcast captioning include language translation and medical transcription. Interpreters and translators relay spoken or written information in one language to another. They usually need to have a bachelor's degree, but the most important thing is that they are fluent in at least two languages. Medical transcriptionists take spoken medical reports and convert them into text-based information. They also need a strong understanding of medical terminology used by medical professionals. This careers requires a post secondary certificate.

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