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Real-Time Captioner Job Description, Career as a Real-Time Captioner, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $55,000 Annually

Job Outlook: Very Good

Job Description

Real-time captioners have come to play a very important role in the services that they provide. Since closed captioning has become a mandated service on television, this is a job that has become quite important. These captioners work to transcribe what is said on a broadcast into written words. Their services help the deaf of hearing impaired to be able to see firsthand what is being said and follow along with the broadcast or television program.
Real-time captioners often work on news broadcasts or other television programs that are live or need help in real time. Therefore they must be able to use the necessary equipment, and must be very good with it. They work much in the same manner that a court reporter does in that they have to quickly and accurately capture the words that are said by individuals and transcribe them into written format. This means that they not only must be able to keep up with the live broadcast directly, but that they must be able to quickly and efficiently turn that into written words that the hearing impaired can see and follow along with on the bottom of their TV screen.
Though there are several different types of jobs in this industry, this is the most intense. Not only does it mean that they real-time captioner must have a good attention to detail, but they must be adept at using the necessary software as well. This takes practice on their part and may involve a fair amount of research by which the captioner learns new techniques or tools that may be available to help them in their job.
It’s essential that real-time captioners be familiar with how a broadcast works and know the format, therefore they may spend a fair amount of time following them or viewing them live. Though they may perform the job at home, they must be able to quickly and efficiently capture what is said and what’s happening in the broadcast and turn it into written word that makes sense for the hearing impaired. They are often working to improve their skills and become quicker at using the necessary software.

Education and Training Requirements

Though some that work within this role specifically may find that they can get by just with the necessary training, this isn’t necessarily the norm. Many who work as real-time captioners have a bachelor’s degree in their background. It may or may not be in a related field such as journalism, but any coursework can prove to be quite helpful. One of the most important educational requirements for a real time captioner is that they complete the necessary and sometimes intense training to prepare for this job. They must work through the steps to see how this type of job works. They often must keep up with their training requirements as new software and techniques develop. This may be the type of job for which ongoing education is a part of the actual job responsibilities, as they want to keep current and be able to complete the work in the fastest and most accurate manner.

Getting the Job

The best way to get the job as a real-time captioner is to complete the necessary training course and to show strong abilities in working with the necessary software. This is initially what will help to get the job, but moving forward a good solid reputation with strong experience gained will be key to your success. This can be a rather intense job with intense training associated with it, so it’s imperative that a real-time captioner be able to demonstrate strong skills and ability to get the job and continue to grow in their field. Fortunately there are opportunities both working for employers directly and working on a freelance basis, and that really helps in getting a job in the industry.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Though it can be a somewhat competitive field, there is plenty of opportunity for those that do well in their jobs as real-time captioners. This is a job that is in demand and therefore the opportunities are plentiful for those just entering the field or those who have worked within it for awhile. Adding to the potential for job opportunities is the fact that one can work either for an employer directly as an employee or on a contract or freelance basis. Though telecommuting is an option, it’s essential that the real-time captioner have all the right equipment to perform the job appropriately. This is a field that continues to show demand moving forward.

Working Conditions and Environment

The typical environment has always been that a real-time captioner works in a television studio or related facility directly. Though this can still be a rather typical environment, there is also the option of having the job be done from elsewhere. With the right equipment and an appropriate setup, a real-time captioner may work remotely and handle all of the responsibilities from a home office or anywhere in the world. This can be a somewhat stressful job as it’s essential that the real-time captioner be able to keep up with what is being said and transferring it to written word quickly and accurately. This can be a rather intense experience at first, and may prove to be so throughout a career in this field. It’s essential that a real-time captioner have great attention to detail and be very thorough in their work.

Salary and Benefits

Industry sources state that the average salary for a real-time captioner is around $55,000. This can however vary so significantly that an experienced individual in this field can expect to command over $120,000 when they are at the top of their career. The reason for such a significant range in salary earned has a lot to do with the level of experience that an individual has, as well as the projects on which he or she works. The more experience that they have working within this specialized career, the more that they can expect to earn. Geographical location and type of employer also factor into the salary earned as well. A real-time captioner can expect to earn standard benefits including health insurance, paid time off, and a retirement account. They may even develop a rather flexible schedule as they move up within their career.

Where to Go for More Information

Official Realtime Captioning Association
1106 2nd Street 282
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 944-8304

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts