Broadcast Captioning School and Training Programs: How to Choose

Broadcast captioners translate television shows, sporting events and emergency announcements for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Those interested in entering the captioning field can enroll in certificate or associate degree programs in broadcast captioning and information reporting technology.

How to Choose a Broadcast Captioning School

Broadcast caption stenographers convert the spoken word into written communication using stenotype machines and real-time captioning software. Certificate and associate degree programs are offered at 2-year vocational and community colleges. Online options are available, though students must be fully equipped with captioning hardware and software to be eligible. After completing a program, students wishing to enter the broadcast captioning field must pass the Certified Broadcast Captioning (CBC) exam.

Captioners are the ears for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community; as a result, they must have excellent listening skills and may benefit from courses about deaf culture. In addition to broadcast captioning, graduates can work as Communications Access Real-time Translation (CART) providers. Though additional certification is required, CART professionals use the same technology to caption live events for deaf individuals in the legal and education fields.

List of Considerations for Choosing a Program

  • Length of program
  • Certification of program
  • Curriculum
  • Equipment used

Length of Program

Those who already possess a degree or who don't want to meet general education requirements can enroll in a certificate program. These programs only provide instruction in the subject and consist of around seven courses. They can be completed in a year or less. Associate degree programs, on the other hand, contain courses in general education and topics related to the major, such as business administration and communication skills. They generally take two years to complete.

Certification of Program

Students seeking programs should verify that they are certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), a nonprofit professional organization. While the NCRA doesn't accredit programs, it has a list of general requirements and standards that schools have to meet.


Because stenographers record in real-time, speed is crucial. Aspiring broadcast captioners will likely benefit from programs that place an emphasis on shorthand speed while maintaining grammar, coherence and punctuation. When captioning a television show or sports event, stenographers must prepare by conducting research to ensure they are providing accurate information. Because of this, students should look for programs that provide research techniques and proper formatting for a variety of shows and events.

Equipment Used

Many programs require students to purchase a stenotype machine along with the captioning software. Some schools have partnerships with a specific captioning companies and are supplied with that company's software. Other schools offer programs that expose students to a variety of software, allowing them to develop expertise in several technologies.

Broadcast Captioning Program Overviews

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in broadcast captioning are intended for court reporting professionals who wish to continue their education. Those entering the field with no experience are required to take additional speed-building courses. Before graduation, programs require students to pass stenograph tests with over 96% accuracy and conflict-free content. Courses include:

  • Speed-building
  • Real-time theory
  • Basic broadcast captioning
  • Advanced broadcast captioning

Associate Degree Programs

The curricula for information reporting technology associate degree programs covers CART and judicial reporting, in addition to broadcast captioning. Many programs also include an internship as well as literary courses to develop grammatical skills. Additional topics include:

  • Editing legal documents
  • Legal terminology
  • Computer-aided transcription
  • Short writing techniques
  • Business law and ethics

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