Do you want to break into the transcription industry, but you don’t even know that a foot pedal is? TranscribeMe could be a great place for you to start! This is one transcription company completely open to newcomers and a good place to improve your skills on the job. They have minimal equipment requirements, and you don’t have to buy any transcription software. Kick back with our comprehensive overview of this work-from-home job, enjoy a cup of coffee, and then decide if this is your path into a transcription career – or just sounds like a great way for you to make some extra cash.
Transcription is straightforward work: listen to an audio file, and type what you hear being said. The important thing to remember here is that straightforward is not simple – you’ll be listening to speakers of all stripes, from those with heavy accents to those who mutter to those who enunciate well and clearly. You’ll have to deal with crosstalk and looking up terms and listening to the same audio again and again. It’s also rewarding work – your transcriptions may provide captions or make research easier for a person hard of hearing, or even be used by legal cases or for medical purposes. (Note that those last two generally involve specialized training.)
When you work with TranscribeMe, you’ll log in to their WorkHub – which you must have Google Chrome to access – and you’ll have the opportunity to claim any available work. Pick up an audio file – they tend to be brief, from 10 seconds to one minute – transcribe it and submit, all through the hub.
They pride themselves on crowdsourcing these transcriptions, so the audio submitted to them is diced into small pieces and assigned to many transcriptionists to work simultaneously. After all the pieces are completed, Quality Assurance gets the files and puts them together – that's even the stage where timestamps and speakers' names are added, so you need only focus on what is said in your transcription, not who’s saying it.
A QA will review your work, make corrections as necessary, and you’ll get paid for accepted work. (If your work requires a lot of corrections, it may be rejected. Please refer to the current Transcriber Handbook for procedures and minimums.)
TranscribeMe is perfect for the entry-level transcriber! Their requirements are extremely basic for the industry – you must have a high school diploma, and you must be fluent in English. You should also have an impeccable grasp of English grammar and punctuation rules. It helps to have a good ear, as well, and you’ll get on great with this opportunity if you can easily distinguish between speakers and filter out background noise while listening.
As far as technical requirements go, you must have a home computer with reliable, high-speed Internet access. That’s it! They do recommend you have headphones for listening to the audio, as well – it’ll make transcribing much easier by improving your listening environment.
Veterans to transcription have commented that a foot pedal is a great tool as well, since it allows you to control playback of the audio file with your foot so you never have to take your fingers off the keyboard.
TranscribeMe issues payments through PayPal once a week. All earnings are payable in US dollars, and you can request a payout once you reach $20 in your account.
Note that PayPal is their only payment method at this time, and they are unable to pay you for your work in any other way.
How Much Does TranscribeMe Pay?
TranscribeMe’s base pay rate is set at $15 per audio hour. (Rates can change at any time. Please refer to the company's website for up-to-date details.) The key words there are “audio hour” – you’ll make $15 for each full hour’s worth of audio that you transcribe. That means that the more quickly and accurately you can transcribe – the more efficient you are – the more money you make! The standard professional rate of transcription accepted by the industry allows 4 minutes to transcribe 1 minute of audio – at that rate, you’ll spend 4 hours transcribing 60 minutes of audio, and earn less than $4 per hour with TranscribeMe’s pay rate.
This is really low pay. That being said, many people appreciate the opportunity to see if transcription is a good fit for them before jumping into starting a transcription business of their own.
There are also opportunities to earn a higher rate on some of TranscribeMe’s jobs (i.e. those medical and legal transcription projects), but they generally require special experience. Once you’re a regular transcriber with TranscribeMe, you can apply to be added to their special teams. You’ll also find there are chances to advance within their company, and that you could move up to Quality Assurance and beyond.
Most of the reviews you’ll find for TranscribeMe on Glassdoor are positive, lauding the flexibility of work schedule permitted and the welcoming, supportive community of transcribers in their forums. The flexible schedule refers to their policy that you can work as much or as little as you want, of course – you literally set your own hours to log in and be available for transcription. Their forums put you in touch with an entire community’s experience, and it’s cited as a great place to pick up tips for growing your skills as a transcriptionist.
The cons are what you’d expect – you’re not guaranteed work, and it’s first come, first served. There may not be any work available when you sign on. Also, several people discuss what they feel is a low wage for the amount of work put in – while others point out that, as you become more efficient, your wage per hour improves. With experience, you’ll also find the opportunity to advance to special teams or even become QA and have your pay rate increased accordingly. Additionally, people who’ve worked with special teams say they haven’t experienced a lack of steady work once they leveled up.
The TranscribeMe Exam
You must pass an exam in order to be eligible for work with TranscribeMe. You’ll be provided with access to their style guide to study before you attempt the test. Since you’ll be tested on TranscribeMe-specific style questions in addition to your command of English grammar and punctuation, it’s incredibly important to actually study the guide. When you’re ready to get started, you can complete the test through their portal: for the first part, you’ll be asked to make the correct choice in multiple-choice questions or to type in the correct response. That section will be followed by two audio files that you must transcribe.
If you fail the exam, you will have the opportunity to take it one more time after six months have passed. So be sure to study!
Not sure that TranscribeMe is the opportunity for you? Here are a few similar opportunities you may wish to learn more about:
Rev.com is a similarly-paying opportunity that welcomes entry-level transcribers. They offer opportunities in captioning, subtitling, and translating. They also pay weekly via Paypal, and offer regular feedback and coaching to help you grow.
Casting Words likewise welcomes new transcribers, and pays on a graded system – you’ll be paid anywhere between 8.5 cents to 1 dollar per audio minute for average work, with the better payments being earned with better-graded work. They also let you have as many tries to pass their test as you need to qualify for the job.
CrowdSurf also offers very short files for transcription, making it a great choice when you only have a bit of time to transcribe here and there; you’ll have to sign up on Work Market to get started with them.
While TranscribeMe may not be the best choice for a long-term work-at-home gig, it’s a stepping stone. If you have no experience in the transcription world, this is an easy opportunity to try it out – for pay – and see if it’s something you want to pursue further.