Transcriptionists transcribe audio or video recordings into written text. Companies hire them to listen to audio files, interviews, lectures, etc., and type out the spoken words. This job has become increasingly important because of the rise of podcasts and streaming services such as Netflix.
Transcribers earn anywhere from $10-$25 per hour, depending on their experience level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for transcriptionists will increase by 22% between 2016 and 2026.
While most people assume that transcription is all about listening to audio files and typing them up, there’s more to it than that. A transcriptionist must also have excellent communication skills since they need to explain what they hear to someone else who may not know what was said.
However, you don’t need a college degree to start working as a transcriptionist, all you need is a high school diploma and basic typing skills. If you want to get started, you can take free courses through Coursera. Or, you can enroll in a paid training program at a local community college.
Well, in this post, I’m going to walk you through the step-by-step process of becoming a transcriptionist. You’ll learn how to find work, what it takes to land your first gig, and how to advance your career.
So let’s start with a basic definition of transcription.
What is Transcription?
The term “transcription” refers to converting audio files into written form, and it’s similar to taking notes during a lecture or interview.
A transcriptionist listens to an audio/video file and types up the spoken words in most cases.
But there are many different kinds of transcription jobs. Some people transcribe radio shows, while others transcribe medical records.
Here are some other examples:
- A transcriptionist might transcribe a meeting or a court proceeding.
- A legal assistant might transcribe depositions or medical reports.
- A reporter might transcribe an interview or a press conference.
- An editor might edit transcripts before publishing them online.
- A teacher might transcribe student assignments.
- A writer might transcribe audiobooks.
- A lawyer might transcribe witness testimony.
- A journalist might transcribe news conferences or a debate.
Now, let’s talk about the equipment you’ll need to do transcription. This list includes all of the tools you’ll need to begin transcribing audio files.
- Microsoft Word or Google Docs
- Transcription Software – Express Scribe Transcription Software(Foot Pedal Controlled Digital Transcription Audio Player)
- Foot Pedal – You can use this to pause, rewind, and fast-forward audio files.
Types Of Transcriptionist
1. General Transcription
It is the most common kind of transcriptionist. Here you need to transcribe general business documents, including letters, memos, emails, contracts, resumes, and more.
You can start as a general transcriptionist without any specialized training.
2. Medical Transcription
Medical Transcriptionist transcribes dictation from physicians. Dictation may include patient/client histories, diagnoses, medical treatments, test results analysis, medications, prognoses, and discharge summaries.
Medical Transcriptionists must be familiar with medical terminology, acronyms, abbreviations, and codes used in medicine. They must also be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Most medical transcriptionists have a bachelor’s degree in medical science. Some medical transcriptionists also have additional education in medicine or nursing.
Some medical transcriptionists specialize in certain areas, such as radiology, pathology, or oncology.
3. Legal Transcription
Legal transcription involves transcribing legal proceedings such as depositions, trials, hearings, and interviews.
Legal transcriptionists must be familiar with courtroom procedures and the rules of evidence. They often have law degrees.
Many legal transcriptionists work for large firms that represent clients in civil lawsuits. Others work for small businesses or individuals who need help with their injury claims.
Legal transcriptionists typically earn $40-$60 per hour. But they can make much more money if a firm representing a big client hires them.
4. Broadcast Transcription
Broadcast transcription involves transcribing radio programs, television broadcasts, podcasts, and live events like concerts, lectures, and debates.
Broadcast transcriptionists usually work at stations to listen to radio shows and record them.
They type up the recorded material and send it to producers to create new episodes.
Broadcast transcription requires good listening skills and strong typing skills. It’s essential to know how to read music notation.
5. Verbatim Transcription
Verbatim transcriptionists must accurately capture every word spoken in audio files.
They must be able to take down everything said during an interview or meeting, no matter what the subject is. Verbatim transcriptionists may sometimes be asked to write articles based on what they’ve heard.
From a simple pause to laughter, clearing throats, and other noises, verbatim transcriptionists must pay close attention to all the sounds made during a conversation.
Verbatim transcription is used in many fields, especially journalism.
It’s one of the most challenging jobs you can do because you can consider many things when taking notes.
It’s not uncommon for verbatim transcriptionists to spend hours trying to get a single sentence right.
It is tough to do a perfect verbatim transcription because many variables are involved. The quality of the microphone used, background noise, volume level, speakers accent, etc., all affect the accuracy of the final document.
Skills and Qualities to Become a Transcriptionist
Transcription is a skill that takes months or even years to develop. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to become a transcriptionist.
Several qualities are needed to become a successful transcriptionist. You’ll need to possess these traits:
Comprehension is the ability to understand what someone says even though he isn’t speaking clearly. It includes understanding speech patterns, dialects, accents, slang, jargon, and colloquialisms.
You should also be able to hear and distinguish between different voices.
You might have to listen to people speak over and over again before you start making your first transcription.
#2. Attention to detail
Attention to detail means paying close attention to small details. When listening to a recording, you must be aware of all the little things that could potentially ruin a transcript. For example, you’d want to ensure that you didn’t miss punctuation marks or capital letters.
If you miss something, you’ll have to go back and fix it later.
It requires you to focus on minor details.
Often, transcriptionists are required to listen to recordings multiple times, and they usually listen to the same file more than once.
It happens because some parts of the recording aren’t clear enough for the transcriptionist to make out.
In such cases, the transcriptionist needs to listen carefully to ensure that he doesn’t miss anything.
#3. Computer Skills
When transcribing, you’ll need to use a computer and know how to operate a keyboard and mouse.
You’ll also need to learn how to navigate through various programs. For example, you may want to use transcription software such as Express Scribe or OTranscribe to help with the process.
You should also learn how to use Microsoft Word and Excel. Transcriptionists commonly use these programs.
You’ll also be using them to edit and proofread your work.
Finally, you’ll need to know how to save files and print documents. These skills are essential if you plan to become a professional transcriptionist.
#4. Typing skills
Typing is an integral part of being a transcriptionist, so you must aim for a 65 WPM (word per minute) typing speed.
If you don’t have good typing skills, you should improve your typing speed. Because if you type slowly, you won’t be able to keep up with the pace of the conversation.
Furthermore, you’ll have to spend a lot of time correcting typos. And it’s also advisable to get a headset to listen to the audio while you type.
You can also practice typing at home. The best way to do this is to record yourself talking into a microphone and then play it back. Then, you can correct your mistakes.
Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can move on to other areas of transcription.
#5. Active Listening
Active listening is when you actively participate in a conversation. You should pay attention to everything that’s being said.
It’s not just about listening to the person speaking; you should also listen to their tone of voice.
It’s the ability to focus on what someone says without getting distracted by extraneous information. This skill is beneficial for transcriptionists because they accurately capture every word spoken.
They also need to understand the context of the conversation. To achieve this, they need to be active listeners.
However, there are instances where you might find it challenging to follow a conversation.
#6. Ability to Multitasking
Being a Transcriptionist, you can listen, type and edit at once. It means that you’re capable of doing several things simultaneously.
It is one of the most challenging aspects of being a transcriptionist. However, it’s necessary if you want to be successful.
Because you’ll have to multitask while transcribing, you’ll have to develop the ability to switch between tasks quickly.
The ability to communicate effectively is another critical aspect of becoming a transcriptionist.
You’ll need to be able to express yourself clearly. If you’re unable to do this, you’ll struggle to write down the exact meaning of what people say.
Furthermore, you will face difficulties when explaining something to someone else.
So, you should make sure that you master both verbal and written communication.
You should also ensure that you speak clearly and concisely. It’s vital to avoid long-winded explanations.
Additionally, you should be able to respond appropriately to questions from clients. And also be able to articulate your thoughts in writing.
Knowledge and Abilities Required
General transcription does not require specific certification to start working. But some jobs may require additional qualifications.
For example, medical transcription requires a certificate from the American Medical Association (AMA).
Legal transcription requires a law license. And if you plan to become a court reporter, you must pass the National Court Reporters Institute exam.
– High school diploma or GED required
– One year of college coursework is preferred but not required
– You can even take certification from Transcription Certification Institute
– You can enroll in the TranscribeAnywhere general and legal transcription course. It is an approved school by the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), which offers the Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) examination and certification.
Bonus: If you want to learn everything about transcription and are excited to turn these skills into a business, you can take the ‘General Transcription: Theory & Practice course by Janet Shaughnessy and start making $20K – $40K per year.
How To Become A Transcriptionist
Transcription is a job that involves listening, typing and editing. So, you need to learn how to listen to type accurately and carefully.
You’ll also need to know how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint software programs.
What’s more, you’ll need to have excellent typing speed because you’ll have to type fast. And lastly, you’ll need to know how to edit documents properly.
In this section, I’m going to share a step-by-step guide to help you become a transcriptionist.
Step 1: Decide What Type Of Transcriptionist You Want To Become
There are various types of transcriptionists. For instance, you can specialize in legal, medical, financial, government, educational, or business transcription.
If you decide to go into business transcription, you can get a General transcription certification from any national or international institution.
If you want to pursue medical transcription, you can get a certificate from the American Medical Association (AAMT).
However, there are other options available depending on your career goals.
Step 2: Find Out About The Education Requirements For Each Field
Before applying for any position, it’s best to determine whether the employer has set any education requirements.
This way, you won’t waste time and money applying for positions that don’t fit your skillset. So, make sure to check with the company before you apply.
Most employers expect at least one year of relevant work experience. But they might ask for more than that.
So, be prepared to provide them with proof of your previous work experiences, and it will show that you’re capable of doing the job.
Related: How To Become A Medical Transcriptionist
Step 3: Get Transcription Training & Certifications
The next thing you should do is look for training courses that teach you everything you need to know to succeed as a transcriptionist.
These courses include online classes, live workshops, and seminars. They cover topics such as basic transcription, advanced transcription, and transcription terminology.
They also teach you how to use the latest technology tools, including dictation software, audio recording equipment, and word processing software.
Transcribe Anywhere is one of the best training courses you can take to develop professional-level transcription skills.
They cover all aspects of transcription, including how to transcribe a variety of different media files. And also come with practice exercises and quizzes.
On top of that, you’ll also be able to download the course materials. You can then study these materials whenever you want.
Once you complete these training/courses, you’ll receive a certificate that proves that you’re qualified to work as a transcriptionist.
You don’t need any certification to become a general transcriptionist. But you need one in case you decide to become a medical transcriptionist or a legal transcriptionist.
Best Transcriptionist Certifications: –
- Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT)
- Get A General Transcriptionist Certification from TCI (Transcription Certification Institute)
Some companies require their employees to undergo additional training. If this applies to you, you should look for an organization that offers classes explicitly tailored to your needs.
You can also contact organizations directly to see if they have any programs in place. Some of them even offer scholarships so that you can pay for the training yourself.
TIP: If you decide to enroll in a program, make sure that it covers all areas of transcription. For example, if you plan to become a legal transcriptionist, you must learn about court reporting, legal terminology, and law office procedures.
And if you want to become a medical transcriptionist, you should learn about medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and pathology.
Also, make sure that the training includes hands-on experience. For instance, you should attend conferences where you can interact with experts already working in the field.
It’s important to note that some jobs may only require a high school diploma; however, others may require a college degree. So, make sure to research each position thoroughly before applying.
Bonus: If you want to learn everything about transcription and want to turn your skills into a business that can make you $20K – $40K per year, you can take the ‘General Transcription: Theory & Practice’ course by Janet Shaughnessy.
Step 4: Practice More to Develop Skills (Master your craft!)
Once you’ve completed the training course, it’s time to put what you learned into action.
To do that, you’ll need to start practicing. Start by taking some freelance assignments.
And once you feel comfortable with those tasks, try completing some projects for clients.
You may even consider starting your own transcription business. That way, you can focus on growing your client base while building up your portfolio.
Don’t forget to keep learning new things. It helps you stay ahead of the competition.
As you gain more experience, you’ll learn to handle situations better, improving your overall performance.
And when you have enough experience under your belt, you’ll be able to land a full-time job in no time.
How to Practice Transcription Skills
#1. Learn How to Use Dictation Software
Use Dictation software to record voice recordings. It converts spoken words into text.
There are many types of dictation software available, and some are free, while others require a subscription fee.
If you plan on becoming a transcriptionist, you should invest in a good dictation program.
That way, you can easily convert speech into text.
But if you’re not familiar with this type of software, you might struggle to get started.
#2. Read Online Transcripts
Reading transcripts is another critical skill you must master, and it is because it helps you understand what people say. When working as a transcriptionist, you’ll often need to read transcripts.
#3. Master Advanced Terminology
The terminology refers to the specific terms associated with a particular subject or profession—for example, medical terminology, legal terminology, and technical jargon.
To become a successful transcriptionist, you need to learn about these terms. It allows you to transcribe information from various sources accurately.
In addition, you’ll know which terms to look out for when reading documents. You can also find these terms online using search engines like Google.
#4. Get Familiar with Different Types of Media Files
Transcriptionists work with a wide range of media files. For instance, audio files include music, podcasts, audiobooks, and lectures. Video files include movies, TV shows, and documentaries.
It’s essential to know how each file format works before transcribing them. Otherwise, you could waste valuable time trying to figure things out.
#5. Create a Good Workflow
A workflow refers to the process you use to complete a project.
It includes everything from setting up your workspace to uploading your final product.
Creating a good workflow will ensure that you don’t miss anything along the way.
You can create different workflows depending on the type of task you’re performing.
For example, you can set up a separate workflow for transcribing an interview versus a lecture.
#6. Develop all the qualities to become a transcriptionist
Becoming a successful transcriptionist requires a lot of hard work. However, you can still make progress by developing all the necessary attributes.
These include organization, attention to detail, accuracy, speed, and professionalism.
You can start by practicing these traits at home. That way, you can build upon your existing knowledge.
Once you’ve mastered these skills, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful transcriptionist.
Step 5: Apply For Jobs
Once you’ve completed the necessary training, practicing, and certification, it’s time to start looking for employment opportunities.
You can do this by visiting online job boards. These websites allow you to search for transcriptionist jobs based on keywords.
For example, if you want to work in the healthcare sector, you could search for “medical transcriptionist” or “healthcare transcriptionist.”
Alternatively, you can browse through the listings of companies that offer desired transcription services.
When browsing job listings, always read the description carefully. It includes information about the company’s type of work, the salary offered, and what qualifications are required.
Also, make sure to pay attention to the job posting location. Some companies only hire people who live close to their offices.
And remember to keep an eye out for new postings. That way, you’ll never miss out on a great opportunity.
If you don’t want to apply for a job, you can offer your general transcription service as a freelance transcriber at Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour.
It helps you develop staller transcription skills and enables you to build a portfolio.
Don’t forget to mention your experience when bidding on projects. In addition, you can add some samples of your work to your profile, and this will give potential clients an idea of your skill level.
Step 6: Start Your Own Transcription Business From Home
If you have a strong desire to work independently, then starting your own transcription business might be right for you.
It allows you to choose where and when you want to work. You can even take advantage of flexible hours.
However, there are many challenges associated with running your own business. For example, you need to invest money into equipment and software.
To avoid incurring unnecessary expenses, you should first determine whether you want to run your own business.
If so, then here are the exact steps you can take to start your own transcription business from home…
1. Acquire the Required Skills to Start a Business
A competent transcriber needs to possess several essential skills. First, they must be able to listen attentively, and they must also be able to follow instructions accurately.
They should be proficient in typing fast. And finally, good at taking notes.
2. Find a Niche Market
The best way to find a niche market is to identify a specific industry that requires transcription services.
For example, medical transcriptionists specialize in recording patient information.
Or, you could focus on legal transcription. If you’re interested in working in the education field, you may consider becoming a general transcription to help businesses and small corporations transcribe files.
3. Develop Your Own Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your USP is the one thing that makes you stand apart from other competitors in the same market.
It’s the reason why you decided to become a transcriptionist in the first place. You should think of ways to improve it.
For example, if you’re a medical transcriptionist, you can highlight your ability to provide accurate reports.
4. Identify Your Target Audience
Once you’ve identified a niche market, it’s time to decide whom you want to target. You can either go after large enterprises or small businesses.
If you plan to work for larger organizations, then you’ll need to look for jobs that require high-level transcription. On the other hand, you can do general transcription if you want to work for smaller firms.
5. Create a Service Page
A service page is a website that showcases all of your transcription services. It’s a place where you can share detailed information about yourself and your company.
You can include links to your resume and any relevant social media profiles, and it can help you drive targeted audience traffic to your site.
You can add testimonials and reviews from previous customers. These will encourage people to hire you.
6. Offer High-Quality Services
Offering quality services is one of the most effective ways to attract customers.
You can use this opportunity to highlight your expertise and professionalism by offering more than just basic transcription services.
For instance, you can offer specialized transcriptions such as voice memos, audiobooks, and more.
7. Promote Online
There are various online marketing strategies that you can employ to promote your business.
One of these methods is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO can increase your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages.
For this, you need to provide high-quality content, including blog posts, articles, videos, and more.
Next, you can use SEO techniques to drive traffic to your website, build an email list and generate leads.
8. Build a Strong Reputation
Reputation management is another essential step toward building a successful business.
It involves creating positive customer experiences through consistent communication.
It means that you need to respond quickly to client inquiries. You can even set up auto-responses so that clients don’t have to wait for a response.
Bonus: If you want to learn everything about transcription and want to turn your skills into a business that can make you $20K – $40K per year, you can take the ‘General Transcription: Theory & Practice’ course by Janet Shaughnessy.
How Much Money Can You Make As A Transcriptionist?
The average annual salary ranges between $21,000 and $30,000. The top earners make around $48,000 per year.
However, many factors determine how much money you can earn. For example, you may not be able to charge high rates if you’re in medical transcription.
In fact, according to ZipRecruiter, the average hourly pay for a Medical and Legal transcription in the US is $15 – $17 an hour.
On the other hand, you can expect to get paid less if you work as a general transcriptionist.
In addition, you can also consider the following factors:
- Experience level– You should start with entry-level positions since they pay lower wages. However, you can advance to mid-level and senior positions over time.
- Industry– Legal transcription pays less than medical transcription, making up only 2% of total transcription revenue.
- Location – Most legal transcriptionists are based in New York City. That’s because law firms tend to prefer hiring local workers.
- Job title– Some companies offer managers and supervisors better benefits and compensation packages.
- Skill sets– If you’re looking to work on projects that require advanced skills, you can look into becoming a certified transcriber.
Benefits of Becoming A Transcriptionist
Transcriptionists usually enjoy several benefits, including:
- Flexible hours –Many transcriptionists work flexible hours, which allow them to balance their personal life and career.
- Work from home –Working from home allows you to spend more time with family and friends while still earning a good income.
- No commute –Since most transcriptionists do not have to travel long distances, they save money by avoiding gas and parking costs.
- Better job security –There are fewer risks associated with being a transcriptionist than in other jobs.
- Income –You can easily find jobs that allow you to work full-time.
- Career growth –There are plenty of opportunities for advancement.
- Work/life balance –You can work whenever you want without worrying about office hours.
- Independence –You can do your job without being supervised by anyone.
17 Best Transcription Tips To Master Your Craft
Here are some valuable tips to help you become a great transcriptionist.
- Be punctual and timely when responding to client requests.
- Always transcribe audio files using industry-standard software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.
- Use professional terminology and avoid slang terms.
- Keep your resume updated and current.
- Ensure that all your transcripts are error-free before submitting them to clients.
- Always proofread your transcriptions before sending them out.
- Learn how to use industry-standard software tools like Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Nuance, etc.
- Practice typing fast so that you don’t make any mistakes.
- Ensure that you know the difference between acronyms and abbreviations used in the medical field.
- Take note of the different types of accents used in the medical field and learn how to handle them properly.
- Don’t forget to double-check your spelling and grammar.
- Learn how important it is to be familiar with medical terminologies.
- Get to know the different types of transcription services available online.
- Understand the importance of quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC).
- Know how to manage multiple projects at once.
- Stay organized and prioritize your tasks effectively.
- Master the art of listening carefully and accurately.
Transcription is one of those professions where you need to constantly improve yourself if you wish to excel in this field. It takes years of experience to become a top-notch transcriptionist.
If you wish to start a new career path, you should consider becoming a transcriptionist. It allows you to earn a decent living and also provides you with an ample amount of flexibility.
You can even become a freelance transcriptionist and get paid on demand.
You may choose to specialize in specific areas such as legal, healthcare, financial, real estate, insurance, government, education, business, marketing, sales, technical, engineering, law enforcement, military, and many more.
So, there’s no reason why you cannot start right now! All you need is dedication and hard work. So, what are you waiting for? Start working towards becoming an excellent transcriptionist today!