Career Development

What Does a Captioner Do?

Find out what a captioner does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a captioner.

Captioners are responsible for transcribing audio content into written form. They commonly work with live broadcasts, such as news programs or sporting events, but may also be tasked with captioning pre-recorded videos and other media.

Captioning is a specialized skill that requires careful attention to detail. Captioners must listen carefully to the spoken word while simultaneously typing out what they hear in real time. This requires a great deal of concentration and stamina—captioning a one-hour program can take anywhere from two to six hours to complete!

Captioner Job Duties

Captioners have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Transcribing the spoken words that appear on screen and translating them into written text using specialized software
  • Determining the appropriate caption style for each program based on industry standards
  • Ensuring captions are synchronized with the audio and video elements of a program or event
  • Providing captioning services for deaf or hard of hearing individuals who may not be able to access broadcasts without this service
  • Reviewing transcripts to ensure that captions accurately reflect the spoken words and phrasing of speakers
  • Coordinating with the production team to ensure that captions are correctly formatted and placed on the screen at the appropriate time
  • Working with the producer and director to determine the best method for providing captions for a particular program or event
  • Proofreading captions to ensure that they are accurate and properly punctuated
  • Maintaining high quality standards for captioning services by monitoring the work of other captioners or captioning companies

Captioner Salary & Outlook

Captioners’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,570 ($25.27/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $124,000 ($59.62/hour)

The employment of captioners is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The need for captioning services will continue to increase as more people with hearing loss live longer and remain active in their communities. In addition, the aging population is expected to maintain the demand for captioning services because older adults are more likely than younger people to have hearing loss.

Captioner Job Requirements

Captioners typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers prefer a minimum of an associate’s degree in a related field.

Many employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in captioning, broadcasting, journalism or another related field. These degrees typically include coursework in media law, ethics, writing, broadcasting and public speaking.

Training & Experience: Captioners typically receive on-the-job training from their current or most recent employer. The training may include shadowing a current captioner or learning the specific software and computer programs used by the company.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not usually required to become a captioner, they can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs.

Captioner Skills

Captioners need the following skills in order to be successful:

Language skills: Captioning involves the use of several languages, including English, Spanish, French and other languages. Captioners must be able to understand and speak multiple languages. They must also be able to translate words from one language to another. Captioners must be able to understand and translate words from different languages to ensure the audience understands the message.

Pronunciation: Pronunciation is the ability to speak words correctly. Captioners need to have excellent pronunciation to ensure that the audience understands the words they are reading. This is especially important when the audience is hearing the words for the first time. Captioners should also be aware of regional pronunciations and accents to ensure that they are reading the words correctly.

Memory: Captioners need to have excellent memory skills to remember the order of the slides and the names of the speakers. They also need to remember the names of the speakers and the names of the companies that are presenting. This is important so they can introduce the speakers and the companies correctly.

Reading comprehension: Captioning involves reading and understanding the speaker’s words. Captioners must be able to read and understand the speaker’s words quickly and accurately. This includes understanding the speaker’s tone and inflection. It also includes understanding technical terms and medical jargon.

Adaptability: Captioners often work in a variety of environments, so adaptability is an important skill for this job. You may work in a studio, on a live broadcast or in a conference room, so you need to be able to adjust to different surroundings. You may also work with a variety of people, so you need to be able to adjust to different personalities.

Captioner Work Environment

Most captioners work from home, using a computer, headset, and real-time captioning software to provide captions for live television programs, movies, webcasts, and other events. Some captioners work in offices, either on-site at the event or in a remote location, such as a television station. Captioners who work in offices may be part of a team of captioners who work together to provide captions for multiple events. Some captioners work for captioning services, while others are self-employed. Captioners who are self-employed may work for several different captioning services or clients.

Captioner Trends

Here are three trends influencing how captioners work. Captioners will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Captioning in the Workplace

The growth of captioning in the workplace is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity among employers. This is because it allows employees who are deaf or hard of hearing to better communicate with their coworkers, which can improve productivity and efficiency.

As more and more businesses begin to realize the benefits of captioning, captioners will be in high demand. Captioners who are able to provide accurate and timely translations will be especially valuable, as they will be able to help employees understand what is being said in meetings and other important events.

More Use of AI-Based Tools

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to develop, we are seeing an increasing use of AI-based tools in many different industries. One area where AI is having a significant impact is in the field of captioning, where it is being used to automate the process of translating audio into text.

This trend is likely to continue as AI becomes even more sophisticated, leading to a greater reliance on automated tools for the translation of audio and video content. As a result, captioners will need to learn how to work with these tools in order to remain competitive.

Greater Focus on Accessibility

The focus on accessibility in the media industry is growing rapidly as more and more people with disabilities become interested in consuming media. This is leading to a greater demand for captioning services, which is benefiting captioners who are able to provide this service.

Captioners who are able to provide accessible content will be in high demand, as more and more companies are realizing the importance of providing this type of content. In addition, captioners can also utilize technology such as speech recognition software to make their jobs easier.

How to Become a Captioner

A career as a captioner can be both rewarding and lucrative. It’s a great way to use your language skills, and the demand for captioners is high. You can work remotely or in an office, and you can choose between full-time, part-time, or freelance work.

To become a captioner, you need to have excellent writing and language skills, as well as good listening skills. You also need to be able to accurately transcribe speech from recordings. Many captioners also have experience working with deaf or hard of hearing people.

Advancement Prospects

Captioners who work freelance can often find more work by networking and building relationships with clients. As they become more established, they may be able to command higher rates for their services. Some captioners may eventually move into related fields such as court reporting or real-time translation. Others may use their knowledge of captioning to become trainers or quality assurance specialists for captioning services.

Captioner Job Description Example

Do you have experience captioning live events? Are you a quick typist with excellent grammar? Do you have an ear for dialogue and an eye for detail? If you answered yes to all of the above, we want to hear from you!

[CompanyX] is looking for a captioner to join our team and provide live captioning for a variety of events, including conferences, webinars, and live broadcasts. The ideal candidate will have experience captioning live events, excellent typing skills, and impeccable grammar. He or she will be able to follow along with the event and type out what is being said verbatim, while also making sure to capture any important details, such as names, places, and dates.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Transcribe and caption live or pre-recorded audio/video content in real-time, including identifying and correcting errors
  • Research and prepare for upcoming assignments by studying the subject matter and becoming familiar with the terminology
  • Maintain high accuracy rates while working quickly and efficiently under time pressure
  • Follow strict guidelines and formatting requirements to ensure captions meet industry standards
  • Use a variety of software programs and tools to create captions, including live captioning software, media players, text editors, and word processors
  • Edit and proofread captions for errors prior to publication
  • Monitor live events to identify and correct errors in real-time
  • Collaborate with other captioners, editors, and producers to ensure captions meet quality standards
  • Stay up-to-date on industry news and developments to maintain best practices
  • Attend training sessions and webinars to improve skills and learn new captioning techniques
  • Provide customer service support to viewers who have questions or technical difficulties
  • Perform administrative tasks such as invoicing, scheduling, and maintaining records

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in English, communications, or related field
  • Exceptional writing skills with impeccable grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Excellent listening and comprehension skills
  • Ability to type at least 80 words per minute
  • Flexibility to work a variety of shifts, including evenings and weekends
  • Willingness to complete training on court reporting software

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Previous captioning or court reporting experience
  • Proficiency in multiple languages
  • Advanced computer skills, including experience with speech-to-text software
  • A strong interest in live news and events


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