Caption Writer: Job & Career Info

Mar 14, 2019

Career Definition for a Caption Writer

Caption writers transcribe dialogue for television shows and movies, and they often create verbal representation of sound effects. Many experienced caption writers transcribe dialogue and sound effects for live programming, like sporting events or news programs, and some transcribe foreign movies and television programs into English.

Education Associate's degree or certificate
Job Skills Detail oriented, listening skills, reading skills, written communication, excellent grammar skills
Median Salary (2017)* $55,120 (for court reporters, including caption writers)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 3% (for court reporters, including caption writers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

The majority of employers look for caption writers with certification from an accredited court reporting or closed captioning program. Most caption writers have Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) credentials and many have a certificate or associate's degree in court reporting or stenography. Courses that teach grammar, typing, phonetics, computer technology and rhetoric are often useful for people looking to enter the caption writing field. In addition to coursework, students gain hands-on training using stenotype machines.

To become a CBC, you need to be a member of the National Court Reporters Association and pass the CBC knowledge and skills tests. To maintain your CBC, you must complete continuing education units.

Required Skills

Caption writers need to be able to type very quickly and accurately, and they should be able to pay attention to small details. They must also have stellar grammar and should stay familiar with the newest captioning and word processing software. An understanding of film and broadcasting is also useful for caption writers.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that court reporters, which includes caption writers working in the motion picture and video industries, earned a median annual salary of $55,120 as of May 2017. Some employers pay caption writers by the hour, while others pay a set salary, so the actual amount paid may vary. Job growth of 3% is expected for court reporters in all fields from 2016-2026.

Alternate Career Options

An education in caption writing can prepare you for a variety of similar occupations, including interpretation and medical transcription.

Interpreter and Translator

Normally requiring a bachelor's degree, this profession involves converting spoken, written and signed information from one language to another. Much faster than average growth of 18% was expected for interpreters and translators from 2016-2026, according to the BLS. In 2017, the BLS reported a median annual wage of $47,190.

Medical Transcriptionist

These professionals usually complete postsecondary training in community colleges or vocational schools in medical transcription. The job entails listening to voices of doctors and other health providers and converting them into written format. The BLS projected that employment for this occupation will decline by 3% from 2016-2026. The BLS also reported an annual median salary in 2017 of $35,250.

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