Step-by-Step Guide to Transcriptionist

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If you’re looking to take control of your life by finding a rewarding career that you can work from home, then you’re far from alone.Interest in working when and how it suits you has skyrocketed in recent times, as people seek to gain a better work/life balance.That’s why we wrote this article on how toBe a transcriptionist. There are plenty of transcription jobs out there, and this field may provide you with just what you’ve been looking for. 

How to be a transcriptionist

This guide will help you to secure your first job as a transcriptionist. The guide covers the basics of the job, what you need to do, and how much equipment. how toTranscription training is also available online. how to carve out a niche as a freelance transcriptionist, so you can choose your own hours and clients.It’s an ideal career for many people, from students to stay-at-home moms or retirees seeking part-time work.Whether you want to know who hires inexperienced transcriptionists, which are the better paying companies to work for or what an experienced transcriptionist can expect to earn, stay right here so you can learn how toWork remotely and take on various transcription tasks to help you live your dream life. how toStart your transcription career. Within weeks you could be offering specialized or general transcription services to companies based all over the country – or even the world – and being well paid for doing just that.Let’s get started. Firstly, let’s answer a very important question. What is transcription?

What is a transcriptionist?

Transcribers convert audio files into text. In other words, if you work in a transcription job then you’ll type what you hear while listening to an audio recording.Sounds simple, right? While it’s a straightforward idea, typing at the appropriate speed is only one of the skills you’ll need to master.Good freelance transcribers also need to be able to spell, use punctuation correctly and have great listening skills so they don’t lose track of what’s being said.

There are many types of transcription

The three most popular areas of expertise for transcription firms are legal transcription, medical transcription and general transcribing. These areas include legal transcription, general transcription, or medical transcription. Here’s more on each of those.

Transcribing legal documents

The first field of transcription that we will be covering is legal transcription. You can use it alongside people who are involved in law enforcement like the courts or police.

Medical transcription

Medical transcription deals with healthcare and may include the creation of letters to patients from an audio record made following a consultation.

All transcription

The broadest type of transcription is this. A transcriptionist could work on any audio recording, even if you are not a lawyer or a medical transcriptionist. For example, this could include presentations at conferences or business meetings.

Skills & equipment for transcriptionists

So now you know what online transcription is and the types of transcription work there are.If you’re still interested in how toYou can become a transcriptionist by looking at the equipment and skills required to succeed in this area.

Transcription skills required

If you want to become a transcriptionist, it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself from the outset.Although the job basically involves typing up what is being said, can your typing speed keep up without having to rewind audio files all the time?Do you have accurate typing skills, and is your grammar and spelling up to scratch?Are you – or could you become – familiar with the likes of medical terminology (for work in medical transcription)?How about word processing packages such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs or Apple Pages?Are you patient enough to cope with poor quality recordings, or people who speak really quickly or with a strong regional or foreign accent?If you fancy a work at home job in transcription, you’ll therefore need a good typing speed, spelling and grammar and the ability to work with a high level of attention to detail.Legal transcriptionists and medical transcriptionists will additionally need to know things like legal terminology or how healthcare documentation works.Multiple speakers of several language may also have an advantage – not least because they are used to interpreting less familiar sounds!

Transcription equipment required

For entry-level jobs in transcription, you’ll need certain equipment. Before you sign up for transcription training or take a transcription test, it’s important to consider the following requirements.You will need the use of a reliable laptop or desktop computer, as well as a high speed internet connection.The ability to play video or audio files on this is essential, and you will also be required to use some sort of word processing software.It’s likely that a paid or free version of Apple Pages or Microsoft Word is already installed on your computer, but do you know how toGoogle Docs can be used as an alternative. Everything you write is stored to the cloud almost instantly. It’s also free and simple to use.Some transcription companies may insist upon you using Word, however, or their own transcription software.Where this is required for a transcription job, it will normally be quick and simple to install.You may even need to use a specific browser on your PC or laptop – such as Google Chrome – to access the company’s own transcription software.Suitable headphones will be required to ensure you can hear audio files being played back as clearly as possible.These help to block out other sources of sound as well as directing the sounds right into your ear, meaning you can concentrate fully on what’s being said while undertaking online transcription tasks.Some transcription companies – especially those at the higher paying end of the market – may also require you to use a foot pedal or to have your own transcription software. There’s more on these later in this guide.

What transcription is worth it

Most professions and trades pay according to the amount of work they do. Temporary office workers are usually paid an hour. Others will give you a price for specific jobs. For example, a carpenter might quote a fixed price to install fitted closets in a bedroom. A bookkeeper may charge flat rates for the completion of a tax return.

Transcribing work can be paid in a number of ways

The work of transcription is quite different. It is a very diverse job. You can calculate the amount of money you get for transcription gigs by knowing how fast you can transcribe audio or video files.

What is the pay for transcription work?

How much money can you make by working on audio or video projects that convert recordings to written text, and how much will companies pay for beginners? It is also important to consider how many copies you can make from an audio hour. This will impact your ability to earn more than experienced transcriptionists. As a beginner, the average hourly rate could range from a few dollars to an hour or more. However, as your skills improve, it is possible to make twice or more. This scenario is applicable to all freelance jobs, including transcription. A rookie writer, for example, may hone their craft by working for what are sometimes known as ‘content mills’.These typically pay per word, and as an inexperienced writer isn’t anywhere near as quick as one who has done the job for years, earnings may be small at the outset.There are two ways to look at this. One could ask why workers should be paid less than the minimum wage in their area. Another option is to look longer-term. The college and intern routes are more expensive. You may need to pay tuition, living costs, and other expenses. This is why you might consider an online job as a way to improve your skills. If you already have the computer, internet connection and software it will cost you next to nothing, and what you earn will increase steadily as you gain experience.Doing this will also give you the experience to work out what you can really earn per audio hour – and thus what you will be paid in cold, hard cash for each gig.

How to become a transcriptionist – step by step

So let’s assume you’re still interested, and think that your skills may be a good fit. If you can type well and have access to word processing software as well as high speed internet, it is likely that your computer has the right equipment. The next step is:

1. You can test your accuracy, typing speed, and grammar

You must know your typing speed before you begin looking for transcription work. Speed isn’t quite so important here, as this will improve with experience.Remember that you’re paid in audio minutes or hours, not real time ones, so it doesn’t matter to transcription companies how long you take to complete a piece of work.Accuracy is far more important. What takes more time is correcting mistakes and researching unfamiliar terms, as well as trying to decipher speech that is difficult to understand.You can’t do much about the latter, but a high level of accuracy will make you seem far more professional.If you are more accurate, it logically follows that you’ll also be faster as you’re not going back to correct lots of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or typos.You can check your typing speed and accuracy online in as little as a minute, via sites like Or simply Google ‘free online typing test’ and go for one you like the look of.Typically, higher level transcription companies will require around 65 words per minute or more, so that’s a good point of reference to aim for.In terms of accuracy, the closer you can get to 100% the better.If you’d also like to test your vocabulary and use of grammar, you can take a brief online English test here.

2. Transcribing is possible

Many transcription companies offer the opportunity to test out transcription. These can be accessed via their websites.Here at Mum’s Money we think it’s well worth taking the time to do these, as how else can find out whether transcription really is the right job for you?Go Transcript is the ideal first port of call, because you don’t need to download any software. Simply click a link (on the left) to see how you get on.You may be pleasantly surprised… and if not remember you can only improve with practice! The only way is up.If you don’t mind investing a few dollars into making sure transcription is for you – while giving you a head start into paid work in this area – you could also consider taking a course.

3. A transcription course is available

A short course online will help you learn more about transcription. At the time of writing, a quick search on Udemy turned up over 200 courses.Options range from general courses for all levels to more specialist ones aimed at those who want to offer legal or medical transcription services.If you want to take a short, low cost course, here are some of those the Mum’s Money team recommends:

Transcription practice A, B & C – Amanda Fichter

This 3 course set is intended to be a transcriber simulator. It gives you practical, real-world experience. Levels A, B and C each comprise 25 audio files for you to practice transcribing.The series is devised by Amanda Fichter, a transcriptionist with 17 years’ experience. You can find course A here.

Step-by-step transcription – Amanda Fichter

The course leader also teaches this 2-hour course. You can find step-by–step transcription right here.

Becoming a transcriptionist – Chelsea Flint

It is also highly recommended and contains 26 lectures. It’s aimed at beginners, so you can be confident that it’s easy to follow.The course teaches all you must know to work as a contractor for transcription companies. Learn more how toRegister as a transcriptionist.

Become a medical transcriptionist – Cody Lee

Including real life files from doctor’s surgeries and other medical settings, this course will give you a good basic grounding.If you want to know what’s involved in creating healthcare documentation, this could be the course for you. You can learn more about the career of a medical transcriber here.

Learn transcription from scratch – Shelmith Mwangi

This course promises to help those with a typing speed of 35 words per minute – assuming you already have good command of grammar, a computer, internet connection and headphones.The course includes 13 downloadable resources and lifetime access. There’s more about learning transcription from scratch here.

4. Select a transcription agency

When you’re ready to start looking for work as a transcriptionist, it’s worth bearing this factor in mind when deciding which company to go with: each has their own set of transcription guidelines.

Guidelines for Transcription companies

You’re likely to have to take a transcription test when signing up, and to ensure you have the best chance of success with this you should familiarize yourself with the specific company guidelines.This covers issues like what to do if you cannot make out what someone is saying, how toEach speaker should be referred to individually how to type up a mispronounced word.For example, take a look at Go Transcript’s guidelines here.

Companies that hire transcriptionists for beginners

If you’re prepared to work for relatively low pay at first while you learn all about the art of transcribing, there are a number of companies willing to hire those just starting out.Yes, they get the work done for a cheap rate, but you gain the most valuable commodity of all in the process. Experience.Take a look at all or some of the following when you’re ready to take that first step into a new career.Some require Spanish as well as English speakers, while others may be best for medical or legal work. Why not take a quick look at each link and see which one appeals to you most?Don’t forget to check out their guidelines while you’re there, if you’re interested in applying.

5. Transcript career advancement

Once you’ve nabbed your first paid transcription gig, much of the rest will follow with experience.When you’ve built up a good level of speed and accuracy, it may be time to spread your wings a little. So what’s next?

Transcribing equipment is a good investment

The right tool can make your life easier, as with all things. It can help you be a better transcriptionist. Why is this important? You can use your foot pedal to move quickly across the keyboard. A highly-rated foot pedal is available here. It’s available here.

Transcribing companies that pay more

Making the move to a transcription company that pays more is really a no-brainer once you’ve built up some experience. These are some of the things you should be looking at.

Make use of freelance websites and network

If you want the best paying transcription gigs, then it’s best to find your own clients. Freelancer sites, Fiverr or Upwork can help you do that. Also, networking can work great. Look around on Facebook for blogger, vlogger and podcaster groups and join them, as people you connect with there may well be looking for a reliable transcriptionist.Don’t forget LinkedIn too – many freelancers find a lot of work because they spend time networking on this business-oriented version of social media.

Learn more about intermediate and specialist courses

With cheap courses available via sites like Udemy, you don’t have to spend a lot to learn from the experts in their field.The beginner to advanced transcription skills course is a great example, and also created by Chelsea Flint (who wrote the ‘becoming a transcriptionist’ course featured earlier). Find out more about transcription skills: beginner to advanced here.If you’re interested in further training, take a look at Transcribe Anywhere, whose courses aim to help you build a successful business. You can also take courses in general and legal transcription. You can also enroll on a free, 7 lesson mini course to get a taste of what is offered.Many community colleges and vocational schools offer certification programs for those aiming to become a medical or legal transcriptionist.These can last from one year all the way into three depending on how much time needs invested in order receive these qualifications.The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers two certification programs that can help you work in healthcare documentation.Those who are aspiring to be a medical transcriptionist can get certified as either Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) or Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS).Court reporters are courtroom professionals who use an old-fashioned technique to transcribe the dialogue.They must be appropriately trained and certified, like other professions that require special skills such as doctors or lawyers because their work can have life threatening consequences if done incorrectly!The NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) offers various certification courses as does the NVRA (National Verbatim Reporters Association).

Transcription quotes

“You know you are a transcriber when you visualize the typing in your mind when you are listening to conversations.” – Teresa W, GMR Transcription.“It really doesn’t matter where the transcription is provided, the technology is the same. It’s the idea of getting the work completed that matters to the bottom line.” – Chris Hopkins“Breathe new life into your recorded content by transcribing it, slicing it up, and turning it into something fresh.” – Rev.

How to become a transcriptionist – FAQs

What is the best way to start a career as a transcriber?

To help you know where you should start, you need to find out the job description, what skills you will require, and how much it pays. From testing your abilities to finding the right gig, to advancing your career, and so on. Follow the format of this article for all the details.

What is the average time it takes to become a transcriber?

If you have the right core skills and simple equipment plus some time to spare, there’s nothing to stop you signing up with transcription companies right away.The more effort you put in and the sooner you do so, the more likely you are to see real results very rapidly.

How difficult is it to become a transcriber?

Although transcription can be quite simple, it is not difficult to become a transcriptionist.

Which qualifications are required for a job as a transcriber

Experience and formal qualifications are often not needed. To sign up with a transcription company you may need to sit a test, but as long as you pass that you’re all good to go!

What is the maximum amount of money a transcriber can make?

There is a lot of money in transcription, just like many other freelance careers. But you will need to work hard to develop your clients.

How to become a transcriptionist – Final thoughts

As we at the Mum’s Money team know, there are lots of advantages to being your own boss. Reasons why you should become a transcriptionist include that fact that you’re in control of the work you do as well as your hours and your finances.When you work freelance, you can work as, when and where it suits you and your family. If you’re self-motivated and can manage your time effectively, freelance work could suit you perfectly.Working as a legal, medical or general transcriptionist could also be for you if you can type quickly and accurately and have a good level of grammar.This type of work also frees you up to see your friends and spend time with your family whenever you want, with no boss breathing down your neck.In addition, the nature of the work means you’re likely to learn something new every single day, and that your earning power will increase as you progress.You can also save so much time and money by avoiding the commute and no longer having to buy train tickets, coffees and lunches or even work clothes.If this article has piqued your interest, why not take the first step towards your new career today?Related:

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