Salary and Career Info for a Broadcast Captioner

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a broadcast captioner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A broadcast captioner creates closed captioning for various media outlets to accommodate deaf or hard-of-hearing audiences. As they work on either live or previously recorded broadcasts, captioners should have about a 98% accuracy rate when typing, and a speed of around 225 words per minute.

Essential Information

Broadcast captioners use stenotype technology to provide closed captioning services for deaf or hard of hearing viewers. Stenography training and certification are available for individuals who have a suitable level of hand dexterity and typing ability.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree
Other Requirements Certification or licensure required for some positions
Projected Job Growth* (2018-2028) 7% for all court reporters
Mean Salary* (2018) $62,390 for all court reporters

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Broadcast Captioners

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes broadcast captioners with their category of court reporters, noting that the skill set for transcribing spoken words to a written format in real time is the same (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the mean annual salary earned by court reporters working in all industries was $62,390 in May 2018.

Broadcast Captioner Career Information

Broadcast captioners often work in media outlets and federal government agencies to provide people with hearing loss access to various types of programming. They may work as independent contractors or full-time employees in prerecorded and real-time captioning services. The Federal Communications Commission's Telecommunications Act of 1996 contributed to a growth in the need for captioners by requiring most broadcast programming to include closed captioning.

Career Outlook

The BLS predicated that job prospects for captioners in the 2018-2028 decade would be below average. With the advances in remote technologies and stringent federal requirements, the greatest demand would be for those with experience in real-time broadcast captioning.

Skills

Broadcast captioners use many of the same skills and technology as court reporters to provide captioning for national channels, local stations, network news, emergency broadcasts, and live televised programs. In fact, many broadcast captioners start out as court reporters, since both professions require proficiency in stenography.

Many broadcast captioners are required to transmit a minimum of 225 words per minute with at least a 98% accuracy rate. They accomplish this feat by listening to audio while using stenotype machines that employ shorthand symbols rather than individual letters.

Types of Captioning

Closed captioning can be designed for live or prerecorded programs. Live programming requires broadcast captioners to instantaneously transmit real-time captioning. Both services use stenotype technology, but real-time captioning requires more training since any transcription errors are immediately visible.

Training

Aspiring broadcast captioners can enroll in a training program approved by the NCRA. These programs include stenography training and are offered at community colleges, four-year institutions, and technical schools.

Students can gain detailed knowledge and experience by pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Realtime Reporting degree program with a concentration in broadcast captioning. Program courses cover concepts in machine shorthand, real-time reporting, and broadcast captioning for news and sports channels.

Certification

The NCRA offers Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) status to its members. Candidates must pass the CBC exam, which consists of a written test and a real-time captioning skills test. CBCs can maintain their certification by participating in NCRA's continuing education program.

To prepare for a career as a broadcast captioner, there are training programs designed to familiarize students with stenography technology, and to prepare them for accuracy and speed. A four-year degree program in real-time reporting can also prepare aspiring captioners, and certification is available.

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