If you’ve ever watched a TV show or movie and words came up on your screen relating to what’s being spoken, you’ve had an experience with closed captioning.
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My parents used to joke with me as a kid about tiny robots in the TV being responsible for the words on the screen!
Fortunately, now I know that there are real people behind every word.
And, these people often work from home to bring closed captioning to your screen.
Closed captioning is incredibly important for the deaf or hard-of-hearing, who may not be able to understand any words from a show or movie without being able to read them.
Although closed captioners generally don’t need a lot of experience, or a college degree, companies that hire closed captioners expect excellent quality, because of the importance of the job.
If you’re interested in becoming a closed captioner, let’s find out a little more about the two types of captions you can do.
What Is Offline Closed Captioning?
Offline closed captioning is provided by transcribers who caption pre-recorded television shows or movies.
Basically, if it doesn’t air live, it’s subject to offline captioning, rather than real-time captioning.
This type of captioning will require you to have an understanding of time codes.
Time codes are necessary to break up your captioning into the appropriate frames, so that your captions sync correctly to what’s being said in each frame.
It may not always require years of professional experience, but you definitely need to understand how it works, and at least have some basic experience.
What Is Real-Time Captioning?
In contrast, real-time captioning is any captioning provided on live television.
So, live talk shows, charity fundraisers, or news programs, for example, will require real-time captioning, because they weren’t pre-recorded.
Real-time captioners are typically much more skilled, since they need to have extremely fast typing skills with high precision.
They are usually expected to produce captions within 2 seconds of each word spoken on live television.
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Because this type of captioning is more technical than offline closed captioning, it typically pays higher rates and may require plenty of professional experience.
How To Become a Closed Captioner
What you need to do to become a closed captioner relies heavily on the type of closed captioning you want to do – real-time or offline.
Some offline closed captioning companies will require some professional experience with captioning or transcription work.
However, they usually don’t require a college degree.
But, real-time captioning often requires a lot of experience and a related degree.
Real-time captioners are often court reporters as well, because they already have the exceptional listening and typing skills needed for real-time captioning.
Check through the requirements of each company to make sure you meet them with your skills and experience.
As for equipment, there are some things that you should consider having before getting started as a closed captioner:
- Reliable computer with access to an office suite, like Microsoft Office
- Headset to help you accurately hear what’s being captioned
- Foot pedal to slow down, or stop, playback easily
- Separate monitor, or television, to view the programming as you caption (reading lips can be an excellent skill to have!)
- Closed-Captioning software; some companies may recommend a specific one
- Dedicated phone line for business use.
How to Improve Your Captioning Skills
Not everyone starts out as an excellent captioner, and it’s likely that you won’t either.
The work takes a lot of practice to master, so it’s important that, if you want to succeed in this career, you continue honing your craft to be as good as you can be.
Fortunately, there are some courses you can take and websites you can use as resources to help you move along.
The National Court Reporting Association (NCRA) is a good place to find valuable resources as you start your career.
Since many captioning jobs require excellent transcription skills, and transcription is what court reporters do, this place is perfect for starting at the very beginning.
You’ll find courses you can take with exams that test your knowledge, and you can even work toward special certifications that could help you land jobs in the future.
Now, where should you go to practice your skills and get more experience?
A few websites can help with that:
- Listen and Write offers a free account for people who want to practice transcription and captioning work. You’ll listen to audio files and type the words you hear. The site will let you know how fast and accurately you’re doing it and has various levels to choose from as you improve.
- Express Scribe’s Practice Files are perfect for practicing in your spare time. You can download the files for free to use with the free version of the software, so you can check your work against the actual wording.
- 3 Play Media’s online captioning quiz can test your knowledge of captioning and the technology you can use to do it to see where you stand among your peers.
Of course, the best practice usually comes from real-life scenarios, so you can always practice captioning as you listen to your favorite TV shows or radio programs.
Put the TV or radio on, get your computer ready, and type what you hear.
How Much Does a Closed Captioner Make?
Closed captioner salaries can vary greatly, depending on how much work they do per week, their employment status, and the technical aspects of the job.
In 2015, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that a court reporter/closed captioner average pay rate was about $23.80 per hour. The lower tier made about $27, 180 per year, and the highest tier made just over $90,000.
In reality, it all depends on your experience and professional assets.
With a college degree and extremely good typing skills, you can get started with real-time closed captioning, which is where the higher salary levels are.
Still, even the average pay rate is great, and it’s achievable if you have the skills to be an accurate, and speedy, closed captioner.
Closed Captioning Companies That Pay You To Work From Home
These companies may not always be hiring, but they do occasionally have open positions for their captioning teams.
3 Play Media is a well-known company in the transcription and captioning world, offering positions in Boston, MA and work at home opportunities.
You can become either a transcriptionist/captioner or an editor for those roles.
Those working for the company can become eligible for medical benefits, sick and vacation pay, 401(k), social events, and more.
As an editor, you’ll use exclusive software to help you get the job done, but you’ll still need excellent communication and typing skills, plus native English speaking and writing skills.
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Aberdeen hires for a number of captioning services, including offline closed captioners, real-time captioners, and caption editors.
Most of the programming Aberdeen deals with is Christian-based, so you’ll be required to have a good grasp of Christian terminology.
The company uses both independent contractors and employees, depending on the position. Real-time captioners can make $75 per hour, whereas other captioners start out around $12 to $15, depending on experience.
AI Media is a media company that offers live and closed captioning services for videos, TV, and more.
Companies like Amazon, Shopify, and Mozilla have utilized its services for their needs, and the company works within several industries.
AI Media hires freelancers to complete its captioning and transcription services, and they can make up to $42 per video hour.
You can work on a schedule that meets your needs, so you’re not locked into specific hours or days.
AI Media opportunities for captioners are available mostly in the UK and Australia, although there are occasionally other global openings too.
Alorica has a full range of digital services for companies in a variety of industries, like healthcare, media, and energy.
Alorica sometimes seeks freelancers to work with their clients, and one opportunity it often has available is for a transcriptionist and captioner.
Pay and scheduling will always depend on the needs of the specific client.
If you don’t find an open position on the Careers page, you can always contact Alorica with an application form to keep on file when a client’s needs matches your skills.
If you like the idea of logging into a site and grabbing captioning work when you feel like it, then Amazon Mechanical Turk is probably the place for you.
This is a microtasking website where you can find both small and large projects to work on, but many of them are smaller and will only take a few minutes.
For captioning work, you might have a 2-minute video, for example, that could take about 10 minutes or so to caption.
The good thing about it is it’s very flexible, so you don’t have to work in large blocks of time if you’re unable to do so.
When your payments get approved by the requestor, you’ll get the money in your Amazon Payments account.
ASC Services (Formerly Morningside Partners)
ASC Services provides captioning services to top clients, like ABC, CNN, and Fox News. The company hires for several positions, including at-home news transcribers and captioners.
Must have at least 3 years of work experience as a captioner or transcriber, knowledge of current events, experience with AP style, and a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism.
Caption Colorado offers part-time and full-time captioning positions for real-time captioners. Flexible schedules, accessible technical support, 401(k), and vacation pay are just some of the benefits you can expect to receive from the company.
You must have at least 98% accuracy and complete a 30-minute real-time captioning assessment. Those with the best scores will be invited for further interviewing. The company says that you may be required to take more than one assessment throughout the hiring process to ensure it finds the best candidates.
Caption Max looks for both offline and real-time closed captioners to provide its services to clients. You’ll need at least one to two years of experience for either position, and will be considered an independent contractor, rather than employee. Its job listings state that you’ll also need to be open to a flexible schedule.
For real-time captioning, an A.A. or B.S. in Court and Conference Reporting, or a similar degree, is required.
Caption Media Group specializes in offline closed captioning for television, movies, videos, and other pre-programmed recordings. You’ll need at least 2 years of experience with closed captioning software.
The company doesn’t always list its jobs on its website, so you may want to keep an eye on Indeed, where it sometimes lists openings. Additionally, you can send Closed Media Group a contact request using the form on its website to inquire about possible openings.
CaptioningStar provides Remote Live Captioning Opportunities to many deserving Captioners.
CaptioningStar is a prominent Captioning Service provider in the industry with professional captioners delivering over 99% accuracy.
They do offer jobs for experienced Remote Live Captioners to work from home with flexible schedules who can earn from $60/hour – $70/hour.
LinkedIn, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Grammy Awards are very few of the clients who have been using their services.
The Communication Service for the Deaf is a company that helps make communication efforts easier for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
The company offers freelance positions for captioners to provide wording for videos, TV broadcasts, movies, and more.
You can find these positions listed under Captioning Assistant, which requires you to listen to a speaker on the phone and then type what they say for the deaf or hard of hearing to understand.
You start with $11.40 a year and are eligible for raises twice a year.
You must be able to work on evenings, weekends, and some holidays, but both full-time and part-time shifts are available.
Copytalk Business Services offers transcription services for the finance industry, so knowledge of financial products and tools is a plus.
As a CBS Scribe, you can work remotely, get paid training by experienced professionals, and get competitive pay.
You can have a schedule between 16 and 40 hours per week, depending on your availability, and receive a starting compensation of $8.25 an hour, which can raise after training.
When you fill out an application, be sure to indicate that you’re interested in remote work, as some positions are location-based.
CrowdSurf is a marketplace for finding transcription and captioning work. It’s set up much like other freelance marketplace websites, like Upwork or Guru, but is focused on matching captioners and transcriptionists with those in need of the services.
The website focuses on short tasks to allow freelancers the most flexible schedules. Once you create a profile and enter your tax information, the CrowdSurf team will review your information and usually responds in about 24 hours.
Daily Transcription is one of the most popular places for remote workers to find transcription opportunities, but it also offers captioning tasks.
You must be at least 18 years old and being a resident of the United States or Canada is preferred, but not required.
You’ll need to sign a non-disclosure agreement before beginning any work.
If you’d like to sign up and keep your information on file when a position opens up, you can fill out this form.
Dotsub is a technology company that focuses on improving communication and making it as easy as possible.
Of course, for many, captioning is the way to make communication easier!
Dotsub offers freelance positions for subtitlers and captioners, especially if they have bilingual skills.
You must have native English-speaking skills, though, to come on board.
Fill out this application form if you’re interested in one of Dotsub’s positions.
GoTranscript is a company that many freelancers adore for its on-time payments and well-paying tasks.
In addition to transcription, the company also offers professional video captioning.
You can earn up to $0.60 per audio minute, and the average monthly earnings are only about $150, but it’s a good gig if you’re looking for some side work.
Independent contractors can work for Rev as captioners. You’ll earn between $0.45 and $0.75 per audio minute, depending on the complexity of your captioning task. The work is flexible, and you can choose when you’re able to work.
Rev pays weekly with PayPal. You can apply by filling out the form on the Rev website, and you’ll typically hear back from the company within 48 hours.
RNK Productions specializes in transcription and captioning of television programming, movies, videos, and other pre-recorded programming.
You’ll get onboarded as an independent contractor, rather than employee. You can request further information about job opportunities via the website, or e-mail the company your resume.
Talking Type Captions handles closed captioning and subtitles for movies, videos, and television programming. The company provides services for such stations and companies as A&E, Big Fish Entertainment, and The History Channel.
You can use the contact form on the website to inquire about possible job openings for offline closed captioners or real-time captioners.
Vitac provides captioning services to clients around the world, for both live and pre-recorded programming. Some of its clients include Lifetime, BBC America, and Discovery Channel.
Offline closed captioners are required to have a Bachelor’s degree. The real-time captioning position doesn’t specify the need for a degree, but does require a typing speed of at least 225 WPM. For real-time captioning, you’ll also be required to complete a one-week, on-site paid training.
Other Places To Find Closed Captioning Jobs From Home
Not all companies advertise their open captioning jobs on their websites, so it’s good to have a few backup places when searching for them.
- Fiverr (review) – If you’re looking for a highly flexible captioning job, you can create your own captioning “gigs” on Fiverr. Offer your services for a short video caption, for example, for $5, and add onto your services with extra packages and pricing.
The good part about Fiverr is you can set your deadlines, so you can allow yourself to have a fairly flexible schedule. If you have plenty of work lined up, set your account in “vacation mode” to pause new orders.
- Guru – Guru is a freelance marketplace where you can search for freelance jobs posted by clients, like captioning jobs. You’ll be able to see the prices offered for the job, and apply to those that meet your desired rate.
- Indeed – Indeed is an excellent website for finding work from home jobs, including captioning jobs. You can search “Captioning” jobs and indicate “remote” or “home based” in your search.
Doing so can help you find more companies that may not advertise their captioning jobs on the websites, but instead, use job search sides, like Indeed, to post their openings.
- Upwork – Upwork is a freelance marketplace similar to Guru. However, it tends to have more job availability and a better system in place to handle spam postings.
Search for captioning jobs in your areas of expertise, and you can bid on the project with your desired rate. Make sure your profile stands out with a portfolio of past work, if applicable, and a description of your experience.
No matter where you look, remember to keep your resume updated. Once you complete a successful project or job, add it to your resume.
Don’t be afraid to ask your employer or client for a testimonial that you can display on your website or resume.
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