Transcriptionist vs Captioner: What’s The Difference?

Discover the nuances between a transcriptionist vs captioner! They both convert audio to text, but their roles and skills differ. Learn more here.

captioner vs transcriptionist

They’re the same.

Just kidding!

At first glance, you might assume that transcriptionists and captioners are two sides of the same coin. And it’s true that both perform similar roles of converting audio into text.

But it’s not quite that simple (is it ever?) There’s a reason each role has a distinct title.

So whether you’re considering a career in transcription or wondering which role to hire for your next project, you’ve come to the right place. Prepare to learn everything there is to know about the difference between a transcriptionist vs captioner.

We’ll parse out the nuances that set transcriptionists and captioners apart so you can decide which role works best for you.

Transcriptionist vs Captioner: Are They The Same?

The two professions indeed have plenty in common. But close examination reveals an interplay of skills, responsibilities, and intricacies that set them apart.

What is a transcriptionist vs captioner?

Transcriptionists transform audio recordings into edited textual manuscripts. These might include:

  • Interviews
  • Interrogations
  • Lectures
  • Legal proceedings
  • Board meetings

Transcription spans myriad industries, from academia to legal, requiring versatility in terminology, tone, and style.

What does a captioner do?

Captioners don’t create manuscripts—instead, they weave synchronized text into audiovisual productions. While the essence of their task aligns with transcriptionists, the captioning extends beyond paper to video. The purpose of captions is to make content accessible to individuals with hearing impairments.

Captioners work on captioning productions like:

  • Television shows
  • Movies
  • Online videos
  • Training videos

(Psst! Not sure what the difference is between captions and subtitles?)

Quick Comparison Of Transcriptionist vs Captioner

Transcriptionists and captioners both convert spoken language into text. Additionally, both professions underscore the importance of communication accessibility through different mediums.

But their focus diverges when it comes down to the details.

One of the benefits of transcriptionists is that they can create written documents across industries like legal, business, medical, and academia. On the other hand, captioners enhance accessibility by integrating text into audiovisual content, primarily in media and entertainment.



  • Audio Conversion: Both roles involve transforming spoken language into written text, serving as intermediaries between auditory and textual communication.
  • Keen Listening: Transcriptionists and captioners share the skill of attentive listening, decoding speech patterns, accents, and nuances.
  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in grammar, punctuation, and language conventions is essential for accurate transcription and captioning.
  • Adherence to Style: Both roles require following specific style guidelines for consistency and uniformity in the final output.
  • Application of Text: Transcriptionists generate text documents (transcripts) capturing spoken content, suited for documents and records.
  • Visual Integration: Captioners embed text (captions) into audiovisual content, enhancing accessibility for individuals with hearing impairments.
  • Industries: Transcription spans diverse industries like academia, legal, business, and more, while captioning primarily caters to media and entertainment.
  • Synchronization: Captioners synchronize text with audio and visual frames, maintaining harmony between spoken words and on-screen action.

Ideal Candidates For Each Profession

When it comes to a captioner vs transcriptionist, these professions aren’t merely about transcribing or captioning; they demand an amalgamation of attributes that set the stage for excellence.

Hard Skills & Soft Skills

Transcriptionists should have:

    • Listening skills – deciphering accents, nuances, and varying audio qualities.
    • Typing proficiency – rapid and accurate transcription requires swift fingers that can keep pace with spoken words.
    • Attention to detail – this is paramount, ensuring that no subtleties are lost in translation.
    • Grammar, punctuation, and language conventions – these skills enhance the accuracy of the final transcript.
    • Time management – these skills are vital, as they enable you to meet deadlines and juggle multiple projects effectively.

Captioners should have:

    • Attentive listening – captioners must capture spoken words and inflections with precision.
    • Proficiency in grammar and language conventions – this ensures the creation of clear and accurate captions that align seamlessly with verbal content.
    • Technological adeptness – this one is essential, as captioners navigate specialized captioning software and often engage in real-time synchronization.
    • Eye for detail – this skill is crucial, as they must meticulously time-code and align captions with visual cues, maintaining a harmonious connection between audio and text.
    • Adaptability and quick reflexes – these come into play during live events, demanding swift captioning without compromising quality.

Qualifications and Education

While the entry requirements might differ slightly for a transcriptionist vs captioner, both paths demand a commitment to mastering the craft.


Many employers seek transcriptionists with at least an associate’s degree or specialized certification in transcription. Aspiring transcriptionists can also benefit from training programs that cover niche industries, ranging from general transcription to technical fields like legal or medical transcription.


As with transcriptionists, a solid educational background or certification benefits those aiming to become proficient captioners. Degrees in fields like court reporting, stenography, or specialized captioning courses can provide the necessary skills for success.

For instance, a certification like the Certified Real-time Captioner (CRC) from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) can bolster a captioner’s credentials and enhance their employment prospects.

Specialized Training Options

When it comes to a closed captioner vs general transcriptionist, opportunities for specialization to cater to specific industries and requirements. Specializing is an excellent way to increase your income by providing high-demand skills.


Additional training is essential for those interested in medical or legal transcription due to the specialized terminology and industry-specific nuances involved. Pursuing courses or certifications in these specialty niches equips individuals with the language and knowledge needed to accurately transcribe complex materials.


Real-time captioning requires unique skills such as rapid typing and excellent accuracy. Specialized training in stenography and real-time captioning can enable captioners to provide captions for live broadcasts, sporting events, and news shows. Organizations like the NCRA offer resources and certifications for aspiring captioners.

Professional Duties and Expectations

When it comes to a transcriptionist vs captioner,  hold the power to bridge the gap between the auditory and the textual, but their exact duties are slightly different.


Transcriptionist’s responsibilities include:

  • Listening to audio files
  • Typing the content accurately
  • Editing for grammar and spelling
  • Adhering to specific formatting and style guidelines.

In specialized fields like legal and medical transcription, transcriptionists may need to become well-versed in industry terminology and conventions.


Captioners are responsible for creating on-screen text to accompany audiovisual content, which enhances accessibility for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Their duties range from transcribing live broadcasts in real time to crafting synchronized captions for pre-recorded content.

Captioner vs Transcriptionist Salary Comparison

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that full-time skilled simultaneous captioners command an average annual salary of around $60,380. This figure reflects their proficiency in providing real-time captions for live events and prerecorded content, a skill that demands accuracy, speed, and synchronization.

On the other side of the spectrum, full-time skilled transcriptionists earn an average annual salary of up to $ 48,280. Their compensation aligns with their role in producing accurate and comprehensive transcripts across a multitude of industries.

Influencing Factors

Several factors contribute to the variations in salaries within the realms of transcription and captioning:

  • Skill Level – Advanced skills such as real-time captioning expertise or specialized transcription training can command higher wages due to their niche nature.
  • Experience – Professionals with years of experience often command higher pay rates, as their expertise translates into faster and more accurate work.
  • Industry – Working in industries like legal, medical, or entertainment can lead to different salary levels based on demand and complexity of content.
  • Location – Geographical variations play a role, as job markets and living costs differ from region to region.

Potential Career Paths For Transcriptionist vs Captioner

For transcriptionists, the journey often begins as a generalist, crafting transcripts for a variety of industries such as business, academia, legal, and more. As expertise deepens, opportunities arise to specialize in niche fields like medical or legal transcription, offering a chance to serve specific industries with precision.

Entry-level positions involve offline captioning for pre-recorded content, catering to television shows, movies, and online videos.

Here are a few other typical jobs transcriptionists vs captioners might land:

Transcriptionist Jobs

  • General Transcriptionist – Entry-level transcriptionists can start as general transcriptionists, working across diverse industries and gradually honing their skills.
  • Specialized Transcriptionist – Professionals can specialize in fields like legal, medical, or academic transcription, requiring in-depth knowledge of industry-specific terminology.
  • Quality Control Analyst – Seasoned transcriptionists can take on roles that involve reviewing and enhancing the accuracy of transcriptions produced by others.
  • Content Creator – With strong language skills, transcriptionists can transition to content creation roles, such as blog writing or copyediting.
  • Freelancer/Entrepreneur – Skilled transcriptionists can leverage their expertise to start their transcription businesses, offering their services to clients directly.

Captioner Roles

  • Real-time Captioner – Captioners proficient in real-time captioning can provide live captions for television broadcasts, sporting events, news shows, and more.
  • Offline Captioner – Captioners specializing in offline captioning work on pre-recorded content like movies, TV shows, and online videos, enhancing accessibility for a wider audience.
  • Educational Captioner – Captioners can work within educational institutions to provide accessible content for students with hearing impairments.
  • Captioning Trainer/Educator – Experienced captioners can transition to training roles, educating the next generation of captioners and promoting accessibility awareness.
  • Broadcast and Media – With advanced skills, captioners can venture into roles involving the integration of captions into multimedia content.

Exploring Opportunities For Professional Growth

Ultimately, both professions harbor the potential for upward mobility. Seasoned professionals often transition into managerial roles, overseeing teams of transcriptionists or captioners.

Pursuing advanced certifications like Certified Real-time Captioner (CRC) or specialized transcription courses can open doors to higher-paying roles.

Be sure to stay updated with the latest captioning and transcription software that can enhance efficiency and expand career opportunities as well. Attending workshops, conferences, and webinars helps professionals stay current with industry trends and best practices.

Tools for Caption vs Transcription

Transcriptionists and captioners rely on a range of tools and resources to efficiently convert audio into written text and provide accessible content. These tools encompass software applications, specialized hardware, and other resources that enhance accuracy and streamline the workflow.

Transcriptionist Tools

Specialized Transcription Hardware

One of the best transcriptionist tools is a foot pedal. Foot pedals are foot pedals with customizable controls that orchestrate audio playback. This allows transcriptionists to navigate seamlessly through recordings. Pausing, rewinding, or fast-forwarding becomes a hands-off feat, allowing the transcriptionist’s fingers to remain on the keyboard.

Text Editors

Text editors are the digital canvases, and prominent among them is Microsoft Word. Its widespread use extends to the creation and formatting of transcripts, offering a familiar interface for transcriptionists to weave their linguistic magic. Meanwhile, Google Docs provides collaborative and real-time editing capabilities for teams.

High-Quality Headphones

Headphones are vital to ensuring pristine auditory comprehension. Most professional transcriptionists use noise-canceling features.

Captioner Tools

Captioning Software

  • Aegisub – A comprehensive captioning software for creating, editing, and synchronizing subtitles and captions for video content.
  • SubRip (SubRip Text) – A popular tool for extracting subtitles from video files and converting them into text format.

Style Guides and Glossaries

Industry-specific style guides and glossaries help maintain consistent terminology and formatting within transcripts and captions.

Place An Order With Our Trained Transcriptionists

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Looking for a job? Check out transcriptionist jobs here!

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