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Monday, February 13, 2006

Captioning Student's Thoughts

Got this e-mail from a captioning student:

I am currently a student of Captioning and CART, and am getting close to the speed level that I can enter the field. I have done a lot of research on what is needed to enter the field, as well as what training is out there. So I thought I would share some of that in the hopes that it may help you with answering emails. I am sure you could get more info from someone working in the field, especially someone responsible for hiring, but this may be enough for you to get what you need.

Currently there are two methods of providing captioning and CART. Stenograph and Voicewriting. Both require extensive training in the form of education and many, many hours of practice to get to the speed required to caption (even offline).

The typical spoken word is between 180 and 200 wpm, and often it is 225 wpm. Therefore, captioning via typing is not really an option. Most states require court reporters to pass test in 180,200, and 225 wpm, as well as a written test. ! ;Hence, the typical requirement to enter the field being that of training and proven required wpm in Stenograph or Voicewriting.

Stenographers use a machine with symbols that are used in a form of shorthand, which is then feed into a computer program that translates it to words. Voicewriting is speaking verbatim what has been spoken (including punctuation), into a computer, which translates it into words based on the voice model you have built (extensive training of the computer software to recognize your voice). Both methods require a lot of practice and training to master the level required for captioning and CART. In addition, there is training needed in the actual field of captioning and CART, over and ab! ove being highly proficient at your tool of choice.

I would think that people who are currently doing transcription already have experience at listening and translating under their belt, and therefore, the education to move into the field may be easier for them, compared to someone without that experience. But there is so much more to learn besides that in order to move into the field, hence the need for education and practice.

For stenograph, which might seem like a good fit for current typists; it takes many years of training to master the stenograph, cat software, and all the other things required of them to become proficient enough to move into the field. In fact, most are court reporters for years before they can get to the speed required to do captioning and cart. The schooling for this is substantially longer than that for Voicewriting, but easier to find good training in than Voicewriting.

For both stenograph and Voicewriting, most schools train for court reporting, and then if you want to move into the captioning and cart you can take additional training. There are a small number of schools that are specifically for captioning and CART. But choose carefully, as most se! em to train you at dictating for most of the program, and just a little at the CAT software at the end of the program. There is a few that start you out in the beginning using CAT, and therefore you are training the program and learning the software as you learn.

For additional info, please check out both the NCRA for stenograph and NVRA for Voicewriting. They will have info on schools, certification requirements, etc. But I will say again, research the schools and ask a lot of questions on methods of training, additional costs associated with software and if it is included. I choose Voicewriting to get into the field sooner, and I am currently on my second school dedicated to captioning/cart and! I thought I choose well the first time:)

And I will say that it is not as easy as paying a school and in 6 months you will have a job making big bucks. The schools out there for captioning are in their infancy and please don't believe all they tell you -- it will take much more than 12 hours a week for 6 months, and you don’t start out working full time. I have yet to find a captioning company that works their captioners 40 hours a week, as it would be near impossible to do for that many hours a day. Make sure you ask the school how many graduates they have that are employed in captioning and if you could arrange a chat with any of them.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not trying to discourage folks. Captioners are needed - the jobs are out there. I just don’t want folks to spend thousands of dollars thinking in a few months they will be earning 6 figures. It just doesn’t work like that, regardless of the hype. But I do believe it is possible to get into the field much quicker than other fields with this much potential for income; but you will need to make a good school selection and dedicate many hours per day to practice to get to the speed that you will be able to enter the field.

So don't let the excitement take over, do your research on requirements, schools, and real income potential before you invest your time and money. Then if you decide you still want to persue it, after you have a REAL picture... go for it. I think it is well worth it to work from home and make a decent living, and a nobel career

Here are the links to NCRA and NVRA.

I hope that helps.
A soon to be captioner graduate


Danigyrl said...

My name is Makeila Williams. I am currently a Court Reporting student. I still have a little while to go but I was wondering if you had to have your degree in order to be a close captioner. Hopefully it doesn't matter as long as I pass the state test! You may respond back to my e-mail address @ Thanks a lot and hope to hear from you soon!

11:52 AM  
D Gant said...

Hi am seriously considering droping out of my court reporting training but I am considering taking a course in voicewriting can you recommend a school?

7:22 AM  

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