Careers Paths

Closed Captioner: Steps to Become One with Responsibilities

A closed captioner is someone who creates captions and subtitles for videos, audio files, and live events. Many advantages can come from operating as a closed captioner, including the option to work from home as well as the possibility to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Closed captioning may be a successful career for you if you have strong typing abilities and can work well autonomously. This post examines the potential for this career path and lists the processes that can help you learn how to work as a closed captioner.

What exactly is a close captioner?

The text that is displayed on a screen during a film or live event is written by a closed captioner. They may create captions for a wide range of projects, including movies, TV broadcasts, live events, and speeches that have already been recorded. Most closed captioners also serve as court reporters, recording every word spoken in court proceedings.

A captioner, also known as a steno captioner, is a specialist who frequently employs a stenotype device to transcribe television programs and motion pictures for captions throughout a program or motion picture. A specialized form of transcribing is captioning. There are basically two kinds of captioning:

  • Offline captioning: This is any type of captioning that is done from previously recorded video or audio content, like a television program, a movie, or an online video.
  • Live captioning: When captioner captions live events like athletic competitions, broadcasts, and live television programs, they are said to be captioned in real-time. It takes a lot of speed and precision to caption with this degree of intensity.

The main purpose of captioning is to assist those who, because of their hearing loss or deafness, are unable to hear the audio of the content they are watching. To synchronize with the music, captioners break up their transcribed captions into tiny chunks of text that match each frame of the video. The captions are then added by the creators at the bottom of the video screen so that viewers may read them while also watching the video.

What exactly is the job of a closed captioner?

The following are a handful of the most typical tasks performed by a closed captioner:

  • Creating subtitles for audio and video files that have already been recorded
  • Observing live events and creating real-time closed captions for speakers
  • Synchronizing captions to display when the right speaker is speaking in audio and video files
  • Using editing programs to make sure captions are placed where they belong
  • Checking captions for correctness and spelling
  • Real-time captioning of court proceedings
  • Traveling to provide CART (communication access real-time translation) services for hearing-impaired spectators at events
  • Creating subtitles by transcribing spoken words into another language for captions

How to Get Started as a Closed Captioner

The following are some steps you may take to launch your professional life as a closed captioner:

1. Improve your typing abilities

Having excellent typing abilities is one of the most important requirements for operating as a closed captioner. This is due to the fact that closed captioners frequently have a strict deadline for finishing their work, especially if they cover live events and have to create captions as they go. The ability to type rapidly and accurately is typically crucial for these individuals, so many organizations that recruit captioners require applicants to pass a typing test in order to be considered for captioning positions.

You may hone your typing abilities by using websites that offer typing tests and keep track of your speed and precision so you can keep track of your development and make sure you attain the required proficiency level. Most closed captioners aim for a 200 words per minute typing rate with a 98% accuracy rate.

2. Gain Knowledge of Captioning Standards and Guidelines

To become a successful closed captioner, you must have a good understanding of the various captioning standards and guidelines. These include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for closed captioning of television programs, web content, and video programming delivered over the Internet. You can learn about these standards by attending captioning training programs, reading captioning manuals and guidelines, and reviewing examples of captioned video content.

3. Obtain the required captioning tools.

Most closed captioners utilize specialized tools for their jobs, including headsets, pedals that connect to their computers, and captioning programs. Closed captioners may also use steno machines to type swiftly in shorthand when they are court reporters or working at other live events. It can be helpful to have some of the tools you could need on the job before you land a position if you want to help with your preparation for employment in captioning. As a result, you can practice and learn how to utilize each tool at your own pace to improve your captioning abilities.

To work as a closed captioner, you will need a computer, a reliable internet connection, and captioning software. Many captioning software options are available on the market, including software designed specifically for closed captioning. Some software options may require a fee or a subscription. Some captioning software programs are available online, whereas electronics stores are where you can buy the majority of hardware, like headsets and pedals.

4. Gain expertise

Start gaining experience in captioning as soon as you hone your typing abilities and understand how to operate the captioning equipment. It can be advantageous to start seeking entry-level or beginner positions as quickly as you can because the majority of organizations that employ closed captioners require candidates to have prior experience.

One option to gain expertise as a closed captioner is to finish tasks for customers you locate on your own, including relatives or friends who wish to make videos and add captions to them. Additionally, you can hunt for entry-level employment as a transcriptionist, which entails typing out conversation and monologue from either real-time or recorded speakers on one document.

5. Think about certification

When they choose to work as closed captioners full-time, some of them pursue certification. This is due to the fact that possessing a certification might draw attention to your unique qualifications and distinguish you from other applicants who may not possess one. The National Court Reporters Association’s (NCRA) Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) credential is a well-known closed captioning qualification. This certification demonstrates a captioner’s advanced ability level and assists them in becoming ready for work in more sophisticated captioning fields like broadcast television or CART.

You must apply to join the NCRA, pass a certification exam, and have the CRC certification to receive it. Additionally, it’s critical to obtain at least three hours of continuing education every three years to keep your NCRA membership and certification.

6. Choose whether you wish to work as a freelancer or an employee.

One advantage of employment as a closed captioner is that, in most cases, you can choose between working as an inside employee and as an independent contractor. This is due to the fact that there are frequently openings at businesses who hire captioners for videos they produce as well as at businesses who use contractors to finish captions for external clients. If you are a captioner who is a freelancer, you should think about whether you wish to work remotely or on-site when choosing your career path. Captioners who work remotely may only occasionally visit other work locations.

7. Build Your Portfolio

As you begin your journey as a closed captioner, you can build your portfolio by captioning videos on your own or volunteering to caption videos for local organizations. You can also offer captioning services to friends or colleagues who produce videos.

8. Submit applications for closed captioning positions

Start submitting applications for any available roles that catch your attention after selecting whether to hunt for internal or freelancer positions. Online job search engines and databases that include remote employment opportunities are frequently used to locate jobs for closed captioners. It’s common for employers to need closed captioners to pass typing exams before they’ll consider hiring them, so consistently working on your swift typing can also be helpful in being ready.

There are various opportunities for closed captioners, including working for television networks, production studios, video streaming companies, or working as freelance captioners. You can find work as a closed captioner by searching job boards, networking with other professionals in the industry, or reaching out to companies that produce video content.

What Is the Difference Between a Transcriptionist and a Captioner?

Writing professionals use their abilities in a wide range of occupations, including those where they capture speech by penning it down. This crucial work is a component of the jobs of a transcriptionist and a captioner. Knowing the distinctions between these two jobs will help you choose which is best for you if you have an interest in a career in this industry.

What is the job of a transcriptionist?

An expert who converts recorded audio data into a document or written forms is known as a transcriptionist. These audio files frequently contain assignments such as podcasts, video transcriptions, webcasts, seminars, talk radio programs, and transcriptions of policy adjustments.

These experts listen to the audio before entering their thoughts into the manuscript. A few typists also do text-to-text transcription, which usually requires converting one media file to another. Many transcriptionists use editing programs that automatically transcribe audio files, which they subsequently modify for accuracy. The following are some examples of sectors that use transcriptionists:

  • Academic
  • Media
  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Religious
  • Finance
  • Legal
  • Entertainment
  • Law enforcement
  • Medical
  • Government
  • Insurance

Captioner vs. transcriptionist

The work of a transcriptionist and a captioner differs in a number of ways:


One significant distinction between these two professions is the average annual wage of transcriptionists and captioners. The national average compensation for a stenographer is $55,103, whereas the average salary for a transcriptionist is $44,415 per year. The experience, amount of talent, and location of employment all affect these salaries. As an illustration, real-time captioners frequently earn far more than offline captioners. Additionally, transcriptionists employed by large businesses like hospitals sometimes earn higher wages than those employed by smaller businesses or on a freelance basis.


The majority of transcriptionist jobs demand an associate’s degree or certificate from a program for the profession. A transcriptionist frequently requires specialized expertise in relation to the vocabulary, ethics, and rules in a given area, like the legal or healthcare sectors. Additionally, transcribers possess a variety of hard skills, such as a background in research, documentation, and industry-specific software. Additionally, they must understand how to structure documents and work with transcription software.

The standard educational requirement for captioners is an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in stenography, court reporting, transcription, or a closely related subject. Courses for a profession in captioning are available through a number of programs, including those provided by neighborhood colleges and vocational institutions. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)-accredited credentials are preferred by the majority of companies for captioners. The NCRA offers a number of certificates, including:

  • Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC)
  • Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
  • Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR)

Job Responsibilities

The duties of a captioner and a transcriptionist differ based on the kind of work they do and where they operate. Some typical tasks for a transcriptionist include the following:

  • Producing text according to what is said in audio recordings while listening to them
  • Transcription of in-person meetings
  • Before forwarding them to a customer or company, edit transcriptions
  • Expanding on the notes recorded in shorthand during live meetings
  • Putting transcriptions in order for later use

The following are typical captioner tasks:

  • Creating instant word captions with stenotype machinery
  • Observing TV shows, motion pictures, and other media while reciting dialogue from the characters
  • Creating captions for foreign language translations
  • Deciding whether to include or exclude a caption phrase
  • Editing captions and making sure that vulgar language is deleted for viewers in general
  • Using dedicated captioning tools

Skills required for closed captioners

Closed captioners require a range of skills to be successful in their role. Here are some of the essential skills required for closed captioners:

  • Excellent Typing Skills: Closed captioners must have excellent typing skills to keep up with the pace of the dialogue in the video content they are captioning. They need to be able to type accurately and quickly to ensure the captions are synchronized with the video.
  • Strong English Language Skills: Closed captioners need to have a strong command of the English language, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax. They must be able to accurately transcribe dialogue and sounds and ensure that the captions are easy to read and understand.
  • Knowledge of Captioning Standards and Guidelines: Closed captioners must have a good understanding of the various captioning standards and guidelines, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for closed captioning of television programs, web content, and video programming delivered over the Internet.
  • Attention to Detail: Closed captioners must pay close attention to detail to ensure that the captions are accurate and reflect the dialogue and sounds in the video content. They need to be meticulous in their work and have a keen eye for spotting errors and inconsistencies.
  • Familiarity with Captioning Software: Closed captioners need to be familiar with the various captioning software programs available in the market. They must be proficient in using captioning software to transcribe audio content and synchronize it with the video.
  • Time Management: Closed captioners need to have excellent time management skills to ensure they meet deadlines and deliver captions in a timely manner. They must be able to prioritize their work effectively and manage their workload efficiently.
  • Communication Skills: Closed captioners must have good communication skills to liaise with clients, colleagues, and other professionals in the industry. They need to be able to convey information clearly and effectively and respond to feedback and requests in a professional manner.

Overall, closed captioners require a range of skills, including excellent typing skills, strong English language skills, knowledge of captioning standards and guidelines, attention to detail, familiarity with captioning software, time management skills, and communication skills. By developing and refining these skills, closed captioners can establish themselves as valuable professionals in the media and entertainment industry.

The advantages and disadvantages of working as a closed captioner

Working as a closed captioner can have several advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of working as a closed captioner:


  • Flexibility: Closed captioners often work on a freelance basis, which can offer a high level of flexibility in terms of scheduling and workload. They can choose when and where they work, which can be beneficial for individuals who have other commitments or responsibilities.
  • Job Availability: The demand for closed captioning services is increasing, which means that there are more job opportunities available for closed captioners.
  • Job Satisfaction: Closed captioning can be a satisfying job, as it allows individuals to work in a creative and challenging environment while helping to make video content more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Competitive Salary: Closed captioners can earn a competitive salary, especially if they have specialized skills or experience.


  • Tight Deadlines: Closed captioners often work with tight deadlines and may need to work long hours to meet them. This can be stressful and challenging for some individuals.
  • Technical Challenges: Closed captioners may encounter technical challenges, such as working with different types of video and audio formats, which can require a high level of technical skill and knowledge.
  • Isolation: Closed captioners may work alone for long periods, which can be isolating and lonely for some individuals.
  • Limited Career Growth: Closed captioning can be a relatively niche profession, which may limit career growth opportunities for some individuals.

Working as a closed captioner has its advantages and disadvantages. While the job can offer flexibility, job satisfaction, and a competitive salary, it can also be challenging and isolating at times. It’s important for individuals considering a career in closed captioning to carefully weigh these pros and cons to determine if it’s the right fit for them.

Pay and employment prospects for closed captioners

The salary and job prospects for closed captioners can vary depending on their experience, qualifications, and the industry they work in. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for court reporters, including closed captioners, was $60,130 as of May 2020. However, salaries can range from around $35,000 to over $100,000 per year.

Job prospects for closed captioners are generally positive, as the demand for closed captioning services continues to grow. The BLS projects that the employment of court reporters, including closed captioners, will grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. As more video content is produced and distributed online, the need for closed captioning services is expected to increase.

The job prospects for closed captioners may also vary depending on the industry they work in. For example, closed captioners who work for television networks, production studios, or video streaming companies may have more job opportunities than those who work independently as freelancers.

Overall, closed captioning can be a rewarding career path with competitive salaries and positive job prospects. By developing the necessary skills and knowledge, building a strong portfolio, and networking with professionals in the industry, closed captioners can establish themselves as valuable members of the media and entertainment industry.


In conclusion, becoming a closed captioner requires dedication and hard work, but it is a rewarding career that offers a valuable service to those who rely on closed captions to access video content. By developing your typing skills, gaining knowledge of captioning standards and guidelines, obtaining the right equipment, building your portfolio, and finding work in the field, you can establish yourself as a professional closed captioner and enjoy a fulfilling career in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions about Closed Captioners

  • In what ways are transcription and captioning similar?

Since both transcribing and captioning entail converting audio to text, they are comparable. Both captioners and transcriptionists pay attention to the audio or video being recorded before turning it into text that can be read. Additionally, when executing their jobs, transcriptionists and captioners follow certain style manuals and guidelines. Depending on the kind of job that is being captioned or transcribed, different style manuals and guidelines apply. Technology is frequently used by both categories of experts to speed up the transcription and captioning process.

Both transcriptionists and captioners often have flexible schedules, which is another commonality between their jobs. Many transcriptionists and captioners conduct their work from home so they may fit it in around other commitments or at convenient times.

  • What advantages does transcribing offer?

The use of transcription by individuals who use this type of recording has various advantages. Principal advantages comprise:

  • Expanded audio-visual content
    • Improved accessibility
    • More effective user engagement
    • Enhanced SEO
  • What advantages does captioning offer?

Some of the most noticeable advantages of captioning include the following:

  • aids viewers in understanding discourse in media
    • enables users to watch media in a quiet environment
    • enables deaf and hard-of-hearing people to access media material
    • provides support for persons for whom English is a second language
  • What sectors employ captioners the most frequently?

Here are some of the most typical fields where captioners are employed:

  • Webcasting
  • Media
  • Government
  • Entertainment
  • Religious
  • Legal

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