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CLOSED CAPTIONING: “Captioning as I Get Older – Should I Keep Paying Those Fees to Maintain Those Certifications?” Broadcast Captioner Lorilyn Roberts

Last updated on July 8, 2023

Captioning Weather for WVTM, Birmingham

Many years ago, I let my certifications lapse when I went back to school to earn my college degree. Life changed and I ended up having to go back into court reporting. I didn’t need the certifications to get hired but I did need the certifications to participate in the External Degree Program through the NCRA (or whatever the current name is) at the University of Alabama.

I retook the tests for the certifications and went on and received my B.A. degree from the University of Alabama in interdisciplinary sciences five years later. I was able to deduct the costs of getting my college degree as part of my business expenses because I received C.E. credits for the classes. When you consider I traveled to Israel, Italy, England, Australia, and New Zealand as part of my college degree, I took tons of money off my income taxes, so I have never been one to complain about the costs of C.E. credits or membership. It’s paid for itself.

However, I do think things continue to slide in the wrong direction. Pay per hour is less than I earned for the first show I captioned with no experience. A few years ago, I got worried when the bottom fell out, and went back to college and received my Master’s degree in Creative Writing. I started writing books and continue writing, hoping to someday make a living from them.

While that hasn’t happened yet, without the flexibility that captioning offers, I would not have been able to do that. Not only that, but I was able to adopt two children from Asia as a single mom and homeschool them—because captioning paid well (especially back then) and gave me flexible hours working at home

Captioning also gave me skills for writing I wouldn’t otherwise have. And to maintain those certifications, I have done online classes that will help me with writing—Microsoft Word, Photo Elements, and a copyediting course. The money I spent on the courses wasn’t that expensive, I think around $80 each, and I did them from home. I also deducted them for tax purposes.

I don’t think the NCRA is unreasonable in what they ask. It’s pushed me to take courses I probably wouldn’t have taken but from which I benefitted. Those certifications look good after my name on my email, and it means I’ve met a certain standard that people in the industry recognize.Will I continue to pay the yearly fees and maintain my certifications? I just turned 60 (ouch) and I am asking myself that question. Probably till I’m 65 or until I start selling tons of books. Remember, I let my certifications lapse once and I told myself I would never do that again.

I sure wish I could earn what I earned a few years ago, but those days are gone unless I want to work A LOT of hours. But it’s still better than anything else I’m qualified to do. It’s hard to start over in an entirely new career at my age, but it does allow me to pursue my passion—writing books—that a typical day job would not afford.
When I’m not sure what to do, I usually stay the course until a door opens so wide that I know not to shut it. And as far as I’m concerned, that means staying certified and paying those dues (which I just paid). Seems like they went up this year. AGAIN.

When you look at the alternatives, captioning is still a good field. It’s just not as good as it once was. But then, rarely does anything stay the same. Except for taxes and death.

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Merry Christmas, Everyone.
Published inBroadcast Captioning


Lorilyn Roberts