Caption Writer: Salary and Career Facts

Caption writers must have good skills in grammar, writing and computer technologies. Read on to learn more about this career field, technology you may use, training programs and the occupational outlook for caption writers. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Caption Writer?

A caption writer, also known as a stenocaptioner or broadcast captioner, is someone who produces text that may be used for television shows, news agencies or other broadcasts. This can be done by typing out each word to produce captions or using software to translate spoken words into text. Some caption writers perform their duties after a recording is completed, while others work in real time, such as for a live news show, sports event or special broadcast.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's degree preferred
Key Skills Typing and listening skills
Key Responsibilities Producing text from verbal content
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%* (for court reporters)
Median Salary (2015) $47,884** (for stenocaptioners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **SalaryExpert.com

What Will I Do As A Caption Writer?

A caption writer, also known as a stenocaptioner or broadcast captioner, is a specialized job related to court reporting where you use stenotyping or voice writing techniques to produce text, either real-time or offline, for news agencies, emergency broadcasts, sporting events and other television shows. Stenotyping involves using a stenotype machine connected to special computer software, which allows you to press multiple keys to quickly produce text displayed on the screen. If you choose the voice writing method, you may produce television captioning by speaking into a special mask in order to record spoken words and other information. Voice writers who use computer speech recognition technology may produce real-time captions or create transcripts following the event.

You may also choose to work as a Communications Access Real-time Translation (CART) reporter. In this caption writer position, you write captions in real time for hard-of-hearing, deaf or non-English speaking people. You may do this service not only for televisions shows and news broadcasts, but also for college classes, conventions or other places where individuals may have communication problems.

What Type of Education Do I Need?

Specific education requirements vary by job and by the type of captioning. Some employers prefer to hire caption writers who have a degree, such as an Associate of Science in Broadcast Captioning. Programs specifically in caption writing are somewhat rare, but many court reporting degree and certificate programs include the basic training needed for this job.

In addition to general education classes in English, communications and the social sciences, these programs include courses in captioning, computer-aided transcription, real-time software, speedbuilding, transcription skills, deaf awareness and business ethics. Programs are available in traditional classroom and distance-learning formats, and internships may make up a component of the curriculum.

If you are interested in earning industry certification, such as from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), you must complete a program that is accredited by the NCRA. Relevant certifications include the Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified Broadcast Captioner or Certified CART Provider. You must type 225 words per minute in order to graduate from an NCRA-accredited program (www.ncraonline.org).

What is My Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for court reporters is expected to increase by 2% in the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than average. Job opportunities should be best for those with industry certification (www.bls.gov). The salary for a caption writer varies depending upon experience and certifications. The BLS includes caption writers within the career information data for court reporting, and as of May 2015, reported a median salary of $49,500 for this job.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Medical transcriptionists and court reporters are similar professions to caption writers. Medical transcriptionists produce written accounts of content that is verbally dictated by a doctor. Like caption writers, they do not need a degree, but they do need some postsecondary training. Court reporters take verbal text and convert it to written form, and they usually need a certificate or associate's degree to prepare for their career. Like caption writers, they also need strong typing skills.

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