Closed caption reporters create on-screen text from audio for live broadcasts. An associate's or bachelor's degree with training in transcription, stenography or court reporting is the most common way to learn closed captioning skills. These reporters can also pursue certification or licensure, which some states or employers require.
Classified under the field of court reporting, a career in closed caption reporting requires focus, careful attention to detail and the aptitude to learn and implement new systems. Closed caption reporters are in high demand, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires virtually every show or broadcast aired to include closed captioning. Closed caption reporting careers in the U.S. currently exist in both English and Spanish, and the entry-level academic requirement is an undergraduate degree.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||In some states, professional association licensing or certification; occasionally, specialized transcription machine training|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||9% (for all court reporters)*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$61,660 (for all court reporters)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Real-Time Closed Caption Reporters
Closed captioning provides the viewer with a text version of the audio during a live television show or news broadcast. Transcription methods vary, but most real-time closed caption reporters commonly use stenography, a technique that relies on sounds and phonics rather than a letter for reproduction of the audio. Stenography is then translated back to text by computer software and broadcasted along with the TV program.
A closed caption reporter may also create subtitles that are completed ahead of time. Closed captioning is geared towards hard-of-hearing individuals and may include sound effects. Subtitles are for a hearing audience and generally translate the audio to another language. Both of these jobs are available to closed caption reporters, although each requires slightly different skills.
Attention to detail, an ability to focus and knowledge of transcription methods are crucial to effective and successful closed captioning. Reporters 'type' groups of keys that represent a phrase, word or syllable. Ideally, they must be able to type at least 200 words per minute (wpm).
Closed Captioning (CC) Editor
For programs that are taped or pre-recorded, a cc editor makes up the captions ahead of time. The editor may use captioning software to create a file that is merged with the actual program video.
Closed Caption Reporter Education Requirements
It is crucial to begin a degree program that provides an education in shorthand (stenography) or transcription. Vocational schools and community colleges generally offer programs that lead to a career in closed captioning. There are various on-site and online programs, but to ensure that the program is approved, it is best to choose from the list on the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)'s website (ncraonline.org). Employers generally prefer captioners with a bachelor's or an associate's degree in conferencing and court reporting.
A closed caption reporter may obtain certification, verifying his or her level of knowledge and skills. Certification exams are offered by the NCRA, beginning with the basic, timed Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) exam. After passing this exam and becoming a member of the NCRA, a candidate is considered a professional and is eligible for entry-level jobs as well as advanced certifications from the NCRA.
Certifications specific to closed caption reporting are the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) and the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) exams, confirming a job candidate's abilities to transcribe correctly and quickly. According to the NCRA's guidelines, to pass the CRC exam, an applicant must type for five realtime minutes with 96% accuracy at a rate of 180 words per minute (wpm).
A career in closed caption reporting can lead to a salaried job with full benefits or a flexible freelance position. A closed caption reporter may advance to the position of trainer or supervisor. Other options include giving presentations or writing manuals for training.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Job opportunities for court reporters in general were predicted to increase by 9% during the decade spanning 2019-2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is much faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2020, the BLS reported a median annual wage of $61,660 for all court reporters.
Most closed caption reporters have completed postsecondary training to qualify for work in the field. These reporters often undergo on-the-job training once hired. Professional certification can be a helpful way for closed caption reporters to demonstrate technical expertise to employers.