Ever sat down on the couch (or lay down in bed, who are we kidding?) for a Netflix binge and wondered how those captions got there?
Nope, not magic. It’s someone’s job.
Traditional TV might be on the decline, but as streaming services and digital video content grow, closed captioning jobs will continue to be in demand in the foreseeable future.
Today, you’ll learn what closed captioning is, its requirements, and where to look for closed captioning jobs you can do from home.
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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 and series, 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 exactly what they here.
Such work, because it is more challenging, is also paid a higher rate.
Subtitles vs. Closed captions
Closed captioning jobs are usually categorized under or lumped with transcription jobs.
In fact, closed captioning and subtitling are often used interchangeably.
Before I reveal closed captioning jobs from a number of legit companies, let me first clarify the distinction between closed captions and subtitles.
Subtitles are the exact words from the video’s dialogue in written form. They’re the written text of what characters, narrators, and other people participating in a particular video clip are saying. 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) 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.
With closed captions, the transcriber assumes the person reading the CCs cannot hear any part of the audio, which is why additional descriptions of the audio are needed.
These include background noise, coughing, a ringing phone, and other sounds heard on the audio. Even a character’s change in emotion or heavy breathing is detailed in closed captions, and sometimes even the background music.
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.
Real-time closed captioning is where you transcribe live videos or audio 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 was exclusively office-based, but the internet has paved the way for doing this job remotely.
Generally, as a closed captioner, you must have:
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- 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.
- Flexibility – Conversations are never 100% grammatically correct, so you have to be open-minded enough to leave the text as is and NOT correct grammar as you type.
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 in a decent noise-canceling 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?
Glassdoor reports that the average base pay of a captioner is $14 per hour.
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.
14 Companies Hiring Closed Captioning Jobs
Aberdeen Broadcast Services provides closed captioning, transcoding and broadcast distribution, as well as translation, dubbing, and subtitling services.
Salary details are vague, but the starting salary used to range between $12 to $15 per hour for closed captioners.
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 transcribers, news transcript copyeditor, financial at-home transcriber, financial editor, and editor/proofreader.
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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 Captionmax 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 in the Minneapolis, MN area.
Daily Transcription hires English transcriptionists, subtitlers/captioners, and bilingual Spanish transcriptionists.
They’re strict with its “Experienced Captioners Only” rule, so don’t try to submit an application if you’re a beginner.
Also, they only hire candidates from the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, or the UK; they only consider candidates outside these countries for bilingual translations and transcriptions.
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 pays $0.75 to $0.85 per audio minute to start, and its top captioners earn anywhere from $250 to $950 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 out 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.
Caption Media Group provides offline closed captions for TV shows, movies, videos, and other pre-programmed recordings.
They occasionally have openings for US-based closed captioners who have a minimum of 2 years of experience.
The openings are not always listed on their website, but you can check on Indeed.com for closed captioning jobs.
12. SDI Media
SDI Media is the world’s leading localization provider of dubbing and subtitling services through the largest network of self-owned and operated studios in the industry.
If you’re bilingual, they offer plenty of freelance translation opportunities.
Otherwise, you can apply to be a subtitle editor in their Los Angeles, CA office.
Aside from closed captioning, they also offer embedded captioning, live captioning, broadcast captioning, and many more.
This company is currently hiring freelance real-time captioners who have at least one year of experience.
Dotsub is a tech company focused on developing a web-based platform to provide captions and subtitles to engage global audiences.
They’re currently hiring freelance subtitle translators and captioners. Fill out this form and you’ll be contacted by Dotsub’s recruitment team depending on the demand for upcoming projects.
Closed Captioning Job Outlook
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.
These jobs should give you some experience and familiarity with the technology and systems used for captioning.
Are you interested in closed captioning jobs? Which company/companies are you interested in applying to? Share your plans in the comments!