Ever dream about being able to watch Netflix movies after Netflix movies and work at the same time? Well with closed captioning jobs, not only is this possible, but you can also do them from home.
What is closed captioning?
In the broadcasting industry, closed captioning is the practice of placing text on television programs that are occurring either offline or in real-time.
With offline captioning, pre-recorded programs, like movies, have their dialog broken up by frames and fitted into so-called time codes. These time codes enable the captions to sync with the frame dialog.
With real-time captioning, captions must be typed quickly and appear within two seconds of the words being spoken.
As such, captioners must be more adept at listening to dialog and typing.
Such work, because it is more challenging, is also paid a higher rate.
Subtitles vs. Closed captions
Closed captioning is usually categorized under transcription jobs.
In fact, closed captioning and subtitling are often used interchangeably.
Before I reveal closed captioning jobs from a couple of legit companies, let me first clarify the distinction between closed captions and subtitles.
- Subtitles – Subtitles are the exact words from the video’s dialogue. They’re the written text of characters, narrators and other people participating in a certain video footage. With subtitles, the transcriber assumes that a person reading the subtitle can hear the audio, but need help in following fast dialogue or understanding a foreign-language movie.
- Closed Captions (CCs) – Closed captions also include all the dialogue word by word, just like subtitles. However, in closed captions, other supplemental parts are either described or written in text form. These parts include noises in the background, coughing of someone, phone ringing, and other things heard on the audio. With closed captions, the transcriber assumes the person reading the CCs cannot hear any part of the audio (which is why the need for additional descriptions of the video/audio).
Closed captions are typically used to accommodate an audience with hearing impairments, or if only a text format can describe the picture as a whole.
Even a character’s change in emotion, or heavy breathing are detailed in closed captions.
Real-time closed captioning is where you transcribe videos or audio live as it happens, more specifically around 2 to 3 seconds after the live version.
A good example of real-time closed captioning is how court cases and trials are officially documented.
Offline captioning is more relaxed because you don’t have to get it right seconds after you’ve heard the audio.
Requirements for Applying to Closed Captioning Jobs
If you’re trying to land a CART provider position, you’d have to be an experienced court reporter with extensive knowledge of CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) technology.
In the past, this position is only available office-based, but the internet has paved the way for doing this job remotely.
Generally, as a closed captioner, you must have:
- Typing and stenographic skills – You do need to type fast and be accustomed to the stenographic shorthand (since it is used for live captioning equipment).
- Listening skills – This is a must-have, particularly for live captioning since you only have a couple of seconds after the original audio was said to transcribe a text version.
- Flexible – Conversations are never 100% grammatically correct, so you have to be open-minded enough to leave text as is and NOT correct grammar as you type audio-to-text.
In most cases, the company you work for will be providing software for closed captioning.
However, you do need to provide your own computer and reliable internet connection.
You may need an extra monitor (or TV), if your job requires you to watch live programs, read lips, or get another “look” while captioning.
It may help you to invest is a decent noise-cancelling headset so you hear words more clearly and aren’t bothering your roommates or spouse with program noise.
A separate monitor helps too, enabling you to watch the action on-screen (and maybe even read lips, as needed).
It is rare to have work-from-home live captioning positions, but if you find one, you might need to buy your own steno equipment and other computer add-ons like voice silencer.
How Much do Captioners Make?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that court reporters (or closed captioners) earn about $23.80 per hour (in 2015), taking home somewhere from $27,000 to over $90,000 annually.
You should be aware that beginners are lucky to receive the lowest tier ($27k/year). Closed captioning takes years of practice and experience to be able to do the job quickly, accurately and effortlessly.
Glassdoor reports that home-based captioners earn from $8/hour or up.
Note that the hourly rate refers to “production hour,” which means if it takes you 3 hours to complete an hour’s worth of video, then you’ll only be paid $8 (instead of $24).
It’s important you know this as a beginner, so your expectations aren’t too high.
This rate gets better as your deliverable improves and you work more quickly.
10 Companies Hiring Closed Captioning Jobs
This Christian programming focused company hires both offline and real-time closed captioners. It also hires caption editors.
Real-time captioners are paid quite well (up to $75/hour), while offline and starting captioners earn between $12-$15/hour.
This company is a reputable captioning provider with services in transcription, audio description, and more. AI Media has its own online captioning tool, so you just need to log-in and begin work.
If you’re lucky to get a slot, you can earn $27 to $42 per video hour as a closed captioner for AI Media.
3. ASC Services
This company provides captioning services to clients such as ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
As such, ASC requires that its captioners have three years of work experience.
Knowledge of AP Style writing and a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism are the preferred qualifications.
ASC hires for various positions including news transcript copyeditor, financial at-home transcriber, financial editor, and editor/proofreader.
4. Caption Max
This company hires offline and real-time closed captioners as independent contractors.
At least one year of prior closed captioning experience is required.
If you wish to perform real-time closed captioning, you’ll also be required to possess an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Court and Conference Reporting. NCRA certification as a Certified Broadcast Captioner (or equivalent) may also be needed to perform real-time captioning.
The pay rate with Caption Max is fairly good, at least according to data published by Glassdoor; caption editors earn $13.39/hour and proofers make $15-$18/hour.
Note that closed captioning jobs offered here are office-based, so apply only if you’re near Minneapolis, MN.
Daily Transcript is strict with its “Experienced Captioners Only” rule, so don’t try to submit an application if you’re a beginner.
The subtitler and closed captioner positions are only available to people from Canada and the U.S..
You must also be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement before testing for the position.
If you get hired, you have total control of your work schedule.
Daily Transcription boasts that its top captioners earn up to $900 per week.
This freelance closed captioning business pays its remote workers by the video minute, with pay ranging from $0.50 to $0.75.
According to the Rev website, their captioner freelancers earn an average of $240/month, and some top earners make almost $1,500/month.
The rates per video minute seem low, but experienced closed captioners can definitely take advantage and take on more work, since Rev puts no limit on the projects you can accept.
This company provides offline captioning of movies, videos and other pre-recorded programming.
New hires are brought on as independent contractors, with their pay ranging from $14-$30/hour (according to Glassdoor).
RNK Productions closes its job hunt every now and then, but they always resume hiring contractors so better bookmark and check back again.
This company offers closed/real-time captioning, scripting and foreign subtitles for movies and other programming, including the programming provided through big-name channels such as A&E, Big Fish Entertainment, PBS and The History Channel.
Depending on the work involved, the pay rate goes as high as $140/hour (according to jobs listed on the company website).
Basic and starting captioners make $8/hour (according to Glassdoor).
You’ll need to fill-up a form when sending your application, then wait for someone to contact you.
There’s no information about rates, even for clients, but you’re guaranteed a legitimate position since Vanan Captioning has been offering voiceover, translation, transcription, subtitling and closed captioning services since 2011.
This company offers captioning services for well-known clients such as Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Lifetime and BBC America.
Because of its clientele, Vitac requires its offline captioners to have a bachelor’s degree and real-time captioners to possess a typing speed of 225 WPM.
The company offers a one week paid training program that must be completed on-site at its Pennsylvania location.
In 2017, VITAC acquired Caption Colorado (a well-known closed captioning service provider), which used to pay freelancers around $11.25 to $30.00 per hour “based on speed and accuracy,” plus 401(k) plans, medical/dental/vision/life/disability insurance and health savings accounts for office-based, full-time employees.
Closed Captioning Job Outlook
If you’re looking for legitimate data entry jobs from home, this list could help you find what you’re looking for.
While closed captioning is definitely different from data entry, this serves a good alternative especially if your skills fit the bill.
The National Court Reporters Association estimates that there will be 5,000 new captioning jobs in the next 5 years.
And since there has been a shortage of experienced closed captioners both online and offline since 2018, you can take advantage of this shortfall and master captioning skills.
It may not start as a high-paying work-from-home job, but the potential for higher income and better career options continues to be optimistic.