Associate's degree programs for caption reporters are available in a variety of flexible formats, and some include internship opportunities. Graduates are prepared for professional certification, which is required in some states. These two-year programs in captioning have few course requirements for entrance. The key skills required are typing, excellent English grammar and the ability to work to increase speed and manual dexterity. A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required.
Associate in Applied Science in Broadcast Captioning
Caption reporters produce real-time text using computer-aided transcription for live television shows such as newscasts to serve viewers with hearing disabilities. They may also be referred to as closed-caption writers, voice writers or broadcast captioners. Completion of an associate's degree in broadcast captioning generally requires two years of study, and the curriculum is made up of a core component and professional component. Coursework in English, communications and the social sciences is generally required during the first year. Coursework may include the following topics:
- Computer-aided transcription and captioning
- Deaf awareness
- Real-time theory
- Real-time software
- Speed building
- Transcription skills
Career Outlook and Salary Info
Federal Communications Commission requirements that all television programs be captioned have led to an increased need for caption writers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2% employment increase for caption writers and court reporters from 2014-2024, which is slower than the average for all job fields. Work is most commonly available through local and national television stations; some captioners may work from home. According to the BLS, caption writers and court reporters received a mean annual salary of $54,720 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
The National Court Reporters Association provides a certification process for broadcast captioners. The examination includes a skills tests and written knowledge test. The minimum rate needed to obtain certification is the production of 180 words per minute with 96% accuracy during a broadcast. A separate certification process is available in Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART).
The National Verbatim Reporters Association offers the Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR) certification, which may be necessary in order to obtain licensure in states where it is required. The certification verifies the candidate's ability to produce real-time transcription, judicial reporting and captioning. Continuing education credits are required to maintain the credentials.
After graduation, students who have completed associate's degrees in broadcast captioning will need to earn certification or licensure from professional organization in order to find work in the field.