Associate's programs in closed captioning provide students with the skills needed to transcribe spoken word communication into text communication in real-time for hearing-impaired individuals, a process also known as Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART). These 2-year programs are offered in conjunction with real-time reporting or court reporting programs; some programs are offered online. This program emphasizes hands-on experience through courses in transcription and shorthand. Students complete an internship in a judicial or non-judicial environment.
The National Court Reporters Association accredits some closed captioning programs and provides guidelines for the curriculum. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Typically offered at technical schools and community colleges, these programs also prepare students for professional licensure or certification exams, which may be a requirement for employment.
Associate of Closed Caption Reporter Degree
Students must complete general education requirements in addition to core coursework. They gain hands-on experience with computer-aided transcription systems as well as computer-compatible machine shorthand. Students also learn how to take dictation and transcribe with accuracy. Courses offered include:
- Legal and medical terminology
- Grammar and punctuation
- Machine shorthand theory
- Broadcast captioning
- Captioning in the classroom
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Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates who seek immediate employment can find jobs as judicial reporters for court systems and legal cases, CART reporters for conventions or in educational settings and broadcast captioners for television stations or other visual media outlets that provide closed captioning options. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of court reporters, among which closed captioners and related professionals were counted, was expected to increase 2% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
Court reporters can find employment outside of the courtroom, and this increase is due to several factors. Among them are federal regulations mandating that all new English- and Spanish-language television programming be captioned, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates that hearing-impaired students have access to real-time translating in their classes at universities and colleges if they want it. In May 2015, the BLS stated that the annual median salary of court reporters, including captioners, was $49,500.
Licensing and Certification Information
According to the BLS, graduates may be required to complete certification or obtain licensure, depending upon the type of job and the state they work in. Certain states require judicial or court reporters to have the Certified Court Reporter designation, which can be obtained by passing a state exam. Continuing education may be required to maintain licensing or certification.
The National Verbatim Reporters Association has a Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR) certification, which measures an applicant's aptitude for real-time transcription, captioning and judicial reporting (www.nvra.org). Those who provide captioning services to assist hearing-impaired people may also pursue Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) and Certified CART Provider (CCP) through the National Court Reporters Association. Specialized certifications are also available through the United States Court Reporters Association and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).
An Associate of Closed Caption Reporter Degree trains students in transcription and shorthand for careers as court reporters and captioners. Graduates will likely need to obtain certification or licensure for employment.