What Does a Captionist Do?

By Megainterview Team

The Megainterview team consists of career coaches and interview experts with 10+ years of experience helping job applicants and candidates ace their job interviews! We are motivated by the mission to help people get hired.

A Captionist is a professional who specializes in providing live captions for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. They transcribe spoken words and sounds into written text, which is then displayed on a screen or monitor for the viewer to read. Captionists play a vital role in ensuring accessibility and inclusion for individuals who may otherwise struggle to participate fully in events, meetings, and other forms of media.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the role of a captionist, the different types of captioning they provide, and the qualifications and skills required to become a captionist.

Captionist Duties and Responsibilities

The primary duty of a captionist is to provide live captions for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. This involves transcribing spoken words and sounds into written text, which is then displayed on a screen or monitor for the viewer to read.

Some specific duties and responsibilities of a captionist include the following:

  • Listening to live audio and transcribing the spoken words into written text.
  • Using specialized software to display captions on a screen or monitor in real-time.
  • Ensuring accuracy and readability of captions for the viewer.
  • Responding to feedback from viewers and making adjustments as needed.
  • Keeping up with new technologies and techniques for captioning.
  • Collaborating with other professionals to ensure accessibility and inclusion for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Keeping records of their work and reporting to the supervisor.
  • Staying updated with the latest captioning rules and regulations.
  • Being able to work independently and in a team environment.
  • Being able to work under pressure, as they are responsible for providing captions in real-time.

Captionists may also be responsible for providing captions for pre-recorded content, such as movies, tv shows, or videos. They may also be responsible for ensuring that the captions meet legal requirements for accessibility.

Captionist Job Requirements

The education, training, and experience required to become a captionist can vary depending on the employer and the type of captioning. However, some general requirements include the following:

  • Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum education requirement for a captionist. Some employers may prefer or require a post-secondary degree or certification in a related field, such as communication studies, English, or computer science.
  • Training: Many captionists receive on-the-job training, where they learn the specific software and techniques used for captioning. Some employers may also provide formal training programs for new captionists.
  • Experience: Some employers may require captionists to have previous experience working in captioning or a related field. However, many captionists start their careers with little or no experience and learn through on-the-job training.
  • Certifications and licenses: Some states may require captionists to be licensed or certified. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers a certification program for real-time captioners, known as the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) certification. Additionally, some employers may prefer or require captionists to have certifications in captioning software or related technology.
  • Other skills: A captionist should have good listening, typing and language skills, as well as the ability to work under pressure and multitasking. They should also be familiar with the latest captioning technologies and be able to work well with a team.

Captionist Skills

Captionists need a combination of technical and interpersonal skills to be successful in their role. Some key skills that are essential for a captionist include:

  • Strong typing skills: Captionists need to be able to type quickly and accurately to keep up with spoken words in real-time.
  • Good listening skills: Captionists must be able to listen carefully and accurately transcribe spoken words and sounds.
  • Strong language skills: Captionists must have a good understanding of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as the ability to understand and transcribe different accents and dialects.
  • Familiarity with captioning software: Captionists must be familiar with the software and technology used for captioning, including the ability to navigate different features and settings.
  • Attention to detail: Captionists must be able to spot errors and make corrections quickly to ensure the captions are accurate and readable.
  • Multitasking: Captionists must be able to listen, transcribe, and monitor the captions simultaneously.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: Captionists must be able to work in different settings and adapt to different types of content, such as live events, pre-recorded videos, or online meetings.
  • Good communication skills: Captionists must be able to communicate effectively with colleagues and viewers, take feedback and make adjustments as needed.
  • Time management: Captionists must be able to manage their time effectively, as they have to keep up with the real-time spoken words.
  • Teamwork: Captionists must be able to work well in a team, as they often work with other captionists, audio engineers, and other professionals to ensure accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Captionist Salary

The salary for a captionist can vary depending on factors such as location, employer, and level of experience. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for captioners and court reporters is $62,040. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,610.

In addition, factors such as the type of captioning (live or pre-recorded), the industry, and the level of experience can also affect the salary of a captionist.

For example, captionists in the television broadcasting industry typically earn more than those in the post-secondary education industry. Similarly, captionists with more experience and/or certifications may earn higher salaries than those just starting out in the field.

It is also important to note that salary can also vary depending on the region, as cost of living and the demand for captionists may differ in different areas.

Captionist Work Environment

Captionists typically work in various settings, including television and radio broadcasting, post-secondary education, government, and private industry. They may work in a studio, at a live event, or remotely from their own home.

The work environment of a captionist can be fast-paced and demanding, as they are responsible for providing captions in real-time. They may work long hours and be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Additionally, captionists may have to be on-call for last-minute assignments.

Captionists usually work in a quiet environment, as they need to focus on listening and transcribing spoken words. They also spend a lot of time sitting at a computer, using specialized software to transcribe and display captions.

Depending on the employer and the specific project, they may work independently or in a team environment. They may work with other captionists, audio engineers, and other professionals to ensure accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Many captionist are working remotely, which has become a common practice in recent years. This can provide flexibility and comfort, but also can increase the isolation and the need to be self-motivated.

Captionist Trends

In recent years, there have been several trends and developments in the field of captioning, including:

  • Remote captioning: More captionists are working remotely, providing captions for live events and other content over the internet.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Automated captioning tools, such as speech-to-text, are becoming more advanced, and some companies are developing AI-powered captioning software that can provide real-time captions with high accuracy.
  • Increasing demand for accessibility: There is a growing awareness and demand for accessibility for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. This has led to an increase in the number of captioning and subtitling services and new regulations and guidelines for captioning.
  • Mobile captioning: The rise in mobile devices and mobile streaming platforms has led to a growing demand for captioning on mobile devices. This includes captioning for live streaming, podcasts, and other forms of mobile content.
  • Interoperability and standardization: There is an increasing need for captioning to be interoperable across different platforms and devices and for captioning to be provided in a way that is consistent and accessible to all users.
  • The use of more accurate and expressive captions: Along with the need for more accurate and faster captions, there is also a trend of providing captions that are more expressive and contextually aware, such as providing speaker labels and sound effects, which can make the experience of watching videos more engaging and accessible to a wider range of audiences.
  • The use of more languages: With the increasing demand for captions in different languages, there is a trend of providing captions in multiple languages, especially with the rise of global streaming platforms, which can reach a diverse audience.

How to Become a Captionist

Becoming a captionist involves a combination of education, training, and experience. Here are some steps you can take to start a career:

  • Earn a high school diploma or equivalent: Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent as the minimum education requirement for a captionist.
  • Consider pursuing post-secondary education: Some employers may prefer or require a post-secondary degree or certification in a related field, such as communication studies, English, or computer science.
  • Get trained: Many captionists receive on-the-job training, learning the specific software and techniques used for captioning. Some employers may also provide formal training programs for new captionists.
  • Gain experience: Some employers may require captionists to have previous experience working in captioning or a related field. However, many captionists start their careers without experience and learn through on-the-job training.
  • Get certified: Some states may require captionists to be licensed or certified. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers a certification program for real-time captioners, known as the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) certification. Additionally, some employers may prefer or require captionists to have certifications in captioning software or related technology.
  • Look for job opportunities: Look for job opportunities in television and radio broadcasting, post-secondary education, government, and private industry. Some captionist may work as freelancer, providing services for different clients.
  • Keep yourself updated: Keep yourself updated with the latest captioning technologies and rules and regulations.
  • Develop your skills: Develop your typing, language, and multitasking skills, as well as your ability to work under pressure.
  • Network: Network with other captionists and professionals in the field to learn more about the industry and to find new job opportunities.
  • Be flexible: Be open to work in different settings, adapt to different types of content, and be available for last-minute assignments.

Captionist Advancement Prospects

The advancement prospects for captionists can vary depending on the employer and the specific industry. However, here are some potential career paths for captionists:

  • Lead captionist: With experience, a captionist may be promoted to a lead captionist, who is responsible for overseeing a team of captionists and ensuring that captions are accurate and timely.
  • Supervisor or manager: A captionist with several years of experience may be promoted to a supervisory or management role, where they are responsible for overseeing the captioning department or division for an organization.
  • Captioning specialist: Some captionists may choose to specialize in a specific type of captioning, such as closed captioning for television, or real-time captioning for live events.
  • Self-Employment: Some captionists may choose to work as freelancers, providing captioning services to a variety of clients. This can provide more flexibility and control over their work, but also can come with more uncertainty and need to market themselves.
  • Other related fields: Captionists with strong language and communication skills may also find work in other related fields, such as transcription, subtitling, or voiceover.
  • IT and Technology: With the increasing use of technology in captioning, captionists with strong IT skills may find opportunities to work in the development of captioning software or in the integration of captions in streaming platforms or other devices.

In general, the advancement prospects for captionists are good, as the demand for captioning services is expected to continue to grow, driven by the need for accessibility for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Additionally, the increasing use of technology in captioning can open up new opportunities for captionists to improve their skills and advance in the field.

Captionist Job Description Example

Job Title: Captionist

Job Description:

ABC Media is seeking a skilled and experienced Captionist to join our team. The Captionist will be responsible for providing live captions for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. They will transcribe spoken words and sounds into written text, which will be displayed on a screen or monitor for the viewer to read.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Listen to live audio and transcribe the spoken words into written text
  • Use specialized software to display captions on a screen or monitor in real-time
  • Ensure accuracy and readability of captions for the viewer
  • Respond to feedback from viewers and make adjustments as needed
  • Keep up with new technologies and techniques for captioning
  • Collaborate with other professionals to ensure accessibility and inclusion for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Keep records of their work and report to the supervisor
  • Stay updated with the latest captioning rules and regulations
  • Work independently and in a team environment

Qualifications:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • 2 years of experience in captioning or related field
  • Strong typing skills
  • Good listening skills
  • Strong language skills
  • Familiarity with captioning software
  • Attention to detail
  • Multitasking
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Good communication skills
  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • CRR certification is a plus

ABC Media is an equal-opportunity employer and offers a competitive salary and benefits package. If you are passionate about captioning and have the skills and experience we are looking for, please apply today.

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