Captioning Corner: Students' Questions About Captioning

By Deanna Baker

Do I need to still get my RPR to become a captioner?

Well, this all depends on where you'll be working. If you are applying for a full-time job with some companies, this may be mandatory. Otherwise, as a freelance captioner it may not be mandatory but highly, highly suggested, not just for your own skill level, but to show the captioning companies you may be working for what your minimal skills are. And I say minimal, as the speeds associated with captioning are more in line with the RMR exam than the RPR.

Should I get further training after I graduate, or should I work as a court reporter for a while?

Again, this would depend on the reporting school you have graduated from and if there is a captioning track where you've learned the software and hardware needed for captioning. For instance, you will need an absolutely conflict-free theory and an absolutely solid number theory, as well as need to be able to fingerspell. There may be some captioning companies that will train you directly after graduation, while others may want some work experience in other arenas, CART included.

There is other book learning outside a normal court reporting course needed for captioning, mainly in the various terminologies, such as sports, news, international names, country names, politicians' names, geography, etc.

When should I consider getting into captioning?

I would say that you can certainly start reading everything you can possibly get your hands on regarding captioning, and see if that is the path you want to take in your reporting career.

As for the writing end of things, I wouldn't worry about that until about 180, as captioning is a high-speed activity after your writing is stable.

Do I start training now? If so, where would I get that training?

Again, as I mentioned, the training you can do now, aside from continuing your steno theory, is reading everything you can get your hands on regarding captioning. Simply doing a Google search should keep you extremely busy.

Many of the seminars offered in the JCR magazine require the attendees to have a reporting graduate degree or RPR minimum. But you can surely contact those folks too.

What is the average salary for the captioning industry?

This means different things to different people. For full-time employment with various agencies, check with these companies:

As a freelance independent captioner, you work for various captioning companies, supplying all your own hardware and software, quarterly taxes, phone lines/service, and you are being paid per hour with the work the companies assign to you. Pay can vary quite a bit, from about $50-$100/hour to $25-$50 per half hour.

Captioning is a 365-days-a-year, 24-hours-a-day job. You may not work 40 hours a week. You can decide which hours you want to work, and then see what's available with the captioning companies that have hired you.

About the author

Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, is from Flagstaff, Ariz. If you have a question about captioning, you can ask her at