“There is a huge demand for skilled subtitlers and closed captioners and there are not enough linguists with the technical skills of subtitling for the need that there is. The job opportunities are vast.” – GoSub
- From South Africa.
- Had never worked online before.
- Took a course with GoSub to learn the ropes about subtitling, and within six months was earning $1000/month as a subtitler, working an average of 25 hours per week.
- Focuses on English-to-English subtitling, so no translation involved.
- Often gets to see movies and TV shows before they’re available to the public 🙂
Note: this interview was recorded in May 2017.
Length: 38:34 | Download MP3
Links & Resources
- CC/SDH course that Sulet took
- Netflix Preferred Vendors
- EZTitles ← software Sulet uses for her work (Windows only)
Here’s a YouTube video showing EZTitles in action:
How To Get Started As A Subtitler
Sulet’s step-by-step guide…
- Decide if this kind of work is right for you
- Get Proper Training
- Apply For Jobs
- Be Available
- Get Paid
Decide if this kind of work is right for you
I asked Sulet what kind of people are well suited to subtitling work and she recommended that you:
- Have a love for languages
- Have excellent grammar skills
- Be patient and adaptable
- Be self-motivated (able to stick to deadlines, etc.)
- Have a qualification or solid experience in translation (if you want to do translation as well as transcription)
Here’s what a reader of this blog had to say about subtitling work:
“While I’d hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wasn’t definitely suited to it (as hourly earnings dip drastically if you aren’t moving at a consistent pace), it’s a convenient cash job, particularly when spending time in countries where the USD rate is good, or when dealing with an extremely irregular schedule – both of which I’ve been doing. So cheers for recommending that, it’s been a consistently reliable gig for me the last few months.” – Elliot M
Get Proper Training
Sulet found that the paid GoSub CC/SDH course saved her a lot of time and effort. If you have a bit of money to invest in training, go for it.
You can do the course in your own time and take as much time as you want. Sulet went all out and finished her course in only 5 days.
One of the nice things about GoSub is that the give you paid training assignments to practice with. The training assignments are an easy way to develop your skills and confidence and gain real experience with subtitling software, all while getting paid.
As Sulet said in the interview:
“Without that, I wouldn’t have known where to start or what to expect.”
Sulet did the paid training for about a month before moving on to find her first clients. Note that the rates for paid training do vary and are not guaranteed by GoSub, so it’s best to contact them directly to find out what they are currently.
Alternatively, you can search online for free training or check out some cheap courses on Udemy…
Disclaimer: the prices shown on this page are auto-updated from Udemy’s database every 24 hours. Prices may change at any time. Be sure to double-check the price on the Udemy website or app before signing up for a course.
Apply For Jobs
Start your search on the Netflix Preferred Vendors site.
Select your region there, visit the websites of the listed companies that subtitle your language(s), and follow their application process. You will usually be given a test to complete, and if you pass that you’ll be eligible to receive subtitling work from them.
Sulet recommends applying for multiple companies. Even if you get accepted by one, it’s usually better to work for a few at a time to ensure you have as much work as you want.
Once you’re accepted by a company, be very clear on what kind of work you can do for them and what kind of work you can’t. If there’s an area you’re not that confident in but would like to improve, let them know.
Many companies have a system where they notify you and other freelancers about available jobs that come in, and if you’re the first to accept a job then it’s all yours.
So be alert and available so you can respond quickly to these notifications, get a few jobs under your belt, and build your reputation with the company.
Sulet even has these notifications pop up on her phone so she can see them when she’s away from her computer. That way she can grab a few jobs she likes the sound of and have them lined up for her next work session.
To start, take on every job you can, making sure of course that you can meet the deadlines.
(Missing a deadline is a cardinal sin in this kind of work. If you ever find yourself at risk of missing a deadline, let the company know as soon as possible so they can make other arrangements.)
Try to build relationships with the companies and any people you’re in contact with there. Show them that you’re committed and that you deliver good work.
Expect to be paid in the range of $1.50 per minute for your first gigs, assuming you’re only doing transcribing and not translation as well. If you are doing translation, you can expect to be paid up to 2-3 times more.