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How to Become a Transcriptionist | Start an Online Job with Flexible Hours

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Are you thinking about starting an online job where you can enjoy a steady income with flexible hours? Then, why not consider working as a transcriptionist?

This is one of those jobs that doesn’t need specific qualifications or high-level diplomas. As long as you have exceptional typing skills, an understanding of spelling and punctuation, as well as a good ear, then you’re all set.

In this article, we explain the basics of how to become a transcriptionist. We also share average salaries and a couple of similar job posts that could interest you.

An Overview of Transcriptionists: A Primer

A transcriptionist is someone who listens to a video recording or audio and types everything being said, right down to every ‘um’ and ‘uh’. Then, they present it in a document free of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

Some audio/video files you can be asked to transcribe include podcasts, business meetings, classroom lectures, and more.

You’re probably wondering how transcriptionists are still in demand with all the progress AI has been making. Yet, artificial intelligence still lags when it comes to accurately transcribing spoken words.

Even with its advanced technology, it still can’t replicate the complexities of human speech. It also can’t identify multiple speakers at once, recognize dialects or accents, or understand non-verbal cues.

As such, a human transcriptionist can provide accuracy when writing what’s being said. Yet, they also take it a step further and add a higher level of reliability and precision when it comes to interpreting the context and meaning behind those words.

Then, there are value-added services that human transcriptionists can provide. A few examples include formatting the document and checking it for spelling and grammatical errors.

Here are a few of the skills a general online transcriptionist should have:

  • The ability to type fast and accurately
  • Computer proficiency
  • Good listening skills
  • Strong time-management and organization skills
  • Proficient spelling, grammar, and punctuation

How Much Do Transcriptionists Make?

Unlike most jobs, transcriptionists get paid by an audio minute, which is usually rounded up by the audio hour. You might be surprised to know that it can take you several minutes to transcribe one audio minute.

Let’s say you transcribe an audio file that’s 30 minutes long. If your employer is paying $0.40 an audio minute, this means you’ll make $12.

Yet, you have to keep in mind that even the most experienced transcriptionist can’t transcribe 30 minutes in exactly 30 minutes.

It’ll take you closer to an hour, which means your working rate is approximately $12 per audio hour, not per working hour.

A female Transcriptionist holding a cup of coffee and working at home

A beginner transcriptionist can start with an hourly wage of about $5–$7 per audio hour. In contrast, someone with more experience can make as much as $20, making the national average $16.

This suggests that there are plenty of opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on various factors, including skill level, years of experience, and location.

What You’ll Need to Become a Transcriptionist [& Associated Costs]

Here’s a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay to become a transcriptionist:

  • One-year medical certification program: Medical transcription classes can cost anywhere between $2,500 and $12,000. This depends on whether you’re taking it online or in person, through a community or technical college, and your physical location.
  • Two-year legal associate degree: The tuition for this specialized court reporter training will cost somewhere in the range of $780 and $6,150. Online court reporting programs typically cost from $4,000 to $12,000.
  • Word processing software: If you need additional help finding your way around MS Word, then you can easily find a course in person or online. These are usually low-cost and run around $250 to $600.
  • A high-quality pair of headphones: Quality headphones cost between $100–$200, with some reaching as high as $500.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Transcriptionist

Becoming a transcriptionist is relatively low-cost. All you need is a high school diploma or its equivalent. You’ll also need a handful of useful tools and skills.

Your only real investment would be a pair of good headphones, which can set you back a couple of hundred dollars.

Yet, if you’re thinking about working in a specialized high-paying field, such as medical or legal, you’ll need additional courses, which will cost you.

So, on average, pursuing a transcriptionist career will cost a minimum of $7,000 and a maximum of $14,000.

Is it Hard to Become a Transcriptionist?

Transcribing is basically a straightforward job.

Yet, if you ask any transcriptionist, they’ll probably tell you that the most challenging part about working as a transcriptionist is that it requires patience.

It also requires a commitment to produce a high-quality written document, as well as keen hearing and strong grammar skills.

In addition, transcriptionists need to be able to type quickly and with as few mistakes as possible. On average, competent transcriptionists type about 40–60 words per minute, while those with more experience can type over 80 words per minute.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Transcriptionist?

If you have the skills mentioned above, you can become a general transcriptionist right away.

Otherwise, if you’re considering becoming a medical or legal transcriptionist, then you’ll need to complete college certificate programs.

A smiling male Transcriptionist working on a laptop

In this case, it can take a minimum of two years to become fully certified. Online programs, however, can take as little as only 4 to 6 months.

How to Become a Transcriptionist in 5 Simple Steps

Now that you have a better idea of what it takes to become a transcriptionist, here’s a step-by-step process of how to become one.

Step 1: Pick Your Niche

If you’re starting, general transcription can be a great launching point. You get to work on different topics without having to focus on only one subject matter.

Then, as you gain more training and work experience, you can branch out and choose something that pays more like medical and legal. Yet, in this case, you’ll need to advance your career through specialized certification programs and degrees.

You also need to decide whether you want to do this full-time or part-time as a side hustle.

You can also experiment with different forms of transcription, such as:

  • Podcast episodes
  • Academic research
  • Speeches
  • Interviews
  • Legal proceedings
  • Classroom lectures

Step 2: Hone Your Skills

One of the vital skills you need to do this job is typing. Not only does it save time fixing typos, but the faster you type, the more money you’ll make.

You can find several free online tools, such as the Free Typing Test to help you practice your typing. There are also transcription platforms filled with resources, such as GoTranscript and Transcribe Anywhere, where you can improve your transcription speed and accuracy.

Step 3: Build a Winning Resume

Once you feel confident enough in your typing, it’s time to create a stellar resume. Make sure you highlight your typing speed and accuracy as well as your grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills.

You also need to prioritize many of your soft skills. These can include attention to detail, time management, and organization.

Step 4: Apply for Jobs

The internet is full of transcription companies and platforms. It’s up to you to pick the one that best fits your schedule and expectations.

Take the time to research various companies to understand their style and guidelines.

Some of the most widely known companies that offer jobs for both beginners and experienced transcriptionists include TranscribeMe, CrowdSurf, Speechpad, and Quicktate.

Step 5: Get More Experience

As you gain more experience in the field of transcribing, you can start applying for better-paying jobs.

For example, you can upload your resume to online platforms as Upwork and LinkedIn. After you set your own rates, you can then browse through their job database.

A smiling woman working as a Transcriptionist on laptop

Another option is to reach out to in-person clients including podcast studios, businesses, and law offices. If they don’t already have an in-house transcriptionist, you can pitch your job and get work from them directly.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Transcriptionist

A career in transcription can be enjoyable if you’re a fast typist and have a good ear for audio. In addition, transcribing has several other benefits that can interest you:

  • Flexible work hours: You can choose to work day or night depending on your daily schedule and personal preference.
  • Pick projects that interest you: As you gain experience, you’ll be able to pick and choose the clients you want to work with on projects that you enjoy.
  • Offers the chance to work from anywhere in the world: You can even work from home in your pajamas, making it an ideal job for people with anxiety.
  • Learn skills that can come in handy in a wide variety of industries and fields.
  • Provides the opportunity to advance and increase your pay in a short amount of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Train Myself to Be a Transcriptionist?

Start by choosing a specialist field or you can choose to work in general transcription. Either way, you need to hone your typing skills and brush up on your writing and grammar.

Yet, if you opt for the former, you’ll need to attend training courses as well as specialized training. The next step is to gain experience, build an online network, and find jobs online.

Is Transcription Still in Demand?

Yes! Most businesses and organizations rely on transcriptionists for a variety of purposes including academic research, medical, and legal.

At the same time, people seek out transcription work because it offers more flexibility, better pay, and a chance to work on different projects.

It can also be quite rewarding financially, making it an incredibly flexible second job.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

Do you like the idea of working with words, but aren’t sure if transcription is right for you?

In that case, we rounded up three similar job opportunities you should consider. Take a look.

  • How to Become a Virtual Assistant: Working as a virtual assistant offers more independence and flexibility compared to a traditional assistant job. It’s also a great opportunity to refine your skills and focus on your niche.
  • How to Become an Audiobook Narrator: If you love books and have a good voice for narration, then being an audiobook narrator could be an ideal career choice. You don’t need any specific degrees, but you do need to have proper articulation, clear pronunciation, and a steady recital voice.
  • How to Become a Translator: Translation services are always in demand because they bridge the gap between different cultures. So, you can apply your skills to boost effective communication across businesses and communities.

Wrapping Up

Despite all the current high-tech advances, human transcriptionists remain in high demand. And it’s all thanks to their ability to create detailed, error-free, and contextualized documents.

We hope the insider tips on how to become a transcriptionist in this post have shed light on this profession.

Make sure you build up all the skills necessary for this type of job to boost your expertise. This way, you can land high-paying jobs while enjoying the freedom that transcribing can bring.

Enjoyed reading this article? Please let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share.

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