INSIDE: Thinking about looking into transcription jobs from home? It can be a little confusing and overwhelming at first, but this article provides you with an in-depth look at this work from home opportunity.
Transcription jobs were something I dabbled in briefly when I first started working from home. General transcription is one of the few work-from-home industries that welcomes newcomers with little or no experience.
Though the pay can be pretty low for a beginner transcriptionist, an experienced transcriptionist can easily earn a full-time income from home.
Starting a transcription career can be a little confusing and overwhelming.
There are different types of transcription. Some remote transcription jobs require training, and some don't. Some require you to purchase transcription equipment.
Today, let's take an in-depth look at this work-from-home opportunity.
The transcription process
Once you get a contract for transcription jobs from home, you'll be sent audio or video files that need to be transcribed into text files. Files are usually exchanged digitally.
Software is available to help with playing the audio on your computer. When you've finished turning the audio into text, you send the text file to your client.
There are three main types of transcription work: general, legal, and medical. And the opportunities to enter this field are huge right now.
If you're wondering if remote transcription work is a good fit for you, here are some of the frequently asked questions about becoming a transcriptionist.
What are the typical requirements for transcription work?
General transcription work – for things such as books, podcasts or Facebook videos – tends to have a lower barrier to entry than the other two categories.
Legal and medical transcription positions often require specialized training, which gives you a solid understanding of legal language and medical terminology.
Career Step is one of the very few companies that provides online medical transcription and editing training approved by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) and also works directly with companies hiring for medical transcriptionist jobs.
Typical requirements for transcription work include:
- Typing at a certain speed without errors (often 60+ words per minute)
- A quality headset
- Quiet space to work in
- The ability to sit and type for long periods of time (ideally)
- A computer with dependable high-speed internet access
- Specialized software. Express Scribe is the current industry standard, and a free version is available. This type of software lets you use “hot keys” to stop and start audio and control the speed. Express Scribe works with keyboards as well as foot pedals.
- After you start making a few bucks, you'll find that a foot pedal can greatly increase your productivity. A transcriptionist is paid by the audio minute completed, so the more you can transcribe, the more you can earn.
If you're a good listener and typist, with the ability to transcribe words verbatim, transcription work could be a wonderful way to earn money from home.
Good research skills don't hurt either. Every now and again, you may need to look up the spelling or meaning of a word.
You'll also need to be able to follow directions and pay attention to detail. Every company has its own style guide that you need to follow when transcribing files.
If you'd like to test your speed and practice a bit before applying for a remote transcription job, StenoSpeed and Express Scribe both offer practice files.
How flexible are the hours?
With this work from home job, the flexibility of your hours depends in large part on the type of transcription job you get. Some are completely self-directed, others have specific shifts, and many fall somewhere in-between.
If you're working for a traditional transcription company, you'll probably be assigned specific shifts to work. Shifts for transcription jobs from home typically change every six months. It should be pretty obvious during the application process whether you're looking at a shift-based job.
Other companies let you log in and work whenever you want. These positions offer a lot more flexibility, though you might not always have steady work.
You can also find transcription service companies that will give you an assignment with a deadline. The employer doesn't care when you do the work, as long as it's done on time. If you're thinking about freelancing as a transcriptionist, this is most likely how a lot of your work will be structured.
Where can you get training?
General transcription usually requires no formal training. Legal transcription often relies on experience. Medical transcription usually requires an AHDI-approved certificate. As you would expect, legal and medical transcription tend to pay quite a bit more than general transcription gigs.
That's not to say work as a general transcriptionist can't pay well. It all depends on your experience and where you're finding work. Lots of places out there allow almost anyone in and literally pay only pennies. If you're willing to invest in your skills, you may be able to find clients willing to pay a premium for your services.
CareerStep is my go-to recommendation for medical transcription and medical coding training. It is AHDI-approved and allows you to complete your certification on your own time. Tuition assistance is available, and it also helps with job placement.
TranscribeAnywhere offers in-depth training for both general and legal transcription. In addition to training, the remote work courses include templates, contracts and help with setting rates. A private Facebook group is also available.
Note: TranscribeAnywhere has a free mini-course to help you decide if this is a good career fit for you.
Jump-Start Your Work at Home General Transcription Career is an inexpensive ebook from the fabulous Lisa Mills at WorkAtHomeMomRevolution.com. She includes 60 companies that hire general transcriptionists, along with tips on getting started.
Where can you find transcription jobs?
Many people need transcriptionists these days. Even I outsource videos and podcasts I have done to be transcribed for use in blog posts and subscriber giveaways. And with the popularity of video marketing increasing, expect more of these opportunities to pop up.
In addition to bloggers and online business owners, insurance agents, lawyers, authors, doctors, churches and others have a need for audio files to be transcribed.
Here are some companies that offer online transcription jobs. Remember, position details can change at any time. Please refer to the company websites for the most up-to-date requirements and pay.
- 3 Play Media – No transcription experience is necessary, but you should be proficient in word processing and Microsoft Excel and have decent internet research skills. English and Spanish transcribers are currently being hired. Compensation is project-based, with the opportunity to earn $10 to $30 per hour.
- Aberdeen – This transcription company is currently hiring remote transcribers and captioners. Job seekers who are bilingual in English and Spanish, or who have any other foreign language fluency, are especially encouraged to apply. Candidates must be computer-savvy, have strong internet research skills and be able to type 45 words per minute. Files are most often video or live programming. Entry level pay starts at $12 to $15 an hour.
- Appen – No experience is necessary, and Appen is hiring in many countries, including Canada, Russia and India. The work schedule is flexible, with pay and task duration varying per job.
- BabbleType – No experience is needed to work for this transcription company, but to be hired, you must watch a short video and complete a test. Candidates must have good computer and internet skills.
- Cambridge Transcriptions – Candidates should have at least one year of experience in corporate or legal transcription. You must have a strong grasp of English grammar and be able to follow directions well.
- Castingwords – No experience is needed, but you must be at least 18 years old and live in one of the supported countries or U.S. states. A flexible work schedule is available.
- CrowdSurf – No experience or extra equipment is needed. Candidates should be detail-oriented and proficient in English and have basic typing skills. You can work a few minutes a day or as much as you want at this home job.
- GMR Transcription – No experience is necessary. Current positions include Spanish and general transcriptionist work. Fields include academic, legal, business and more.
- Go Transcript – No experience is required, but strong English skills are necessary. Candidates can work anywhere in the world. For every 10 minutes of audio or video file, you will get 10 hours to complete the work. Average earnings per month are $150.
- M*Modal – Hiring virtual medical scribes and medical transcriptionist candidates. Call to get more information.
- Net Transcripts – Hiring for insurance, police and legal transcription jobs. Candidates should have transcription experience, with the most successful candidates having some experience as a court reporter or transcribing for a law enforcement agency. You must pass a full criminal background check, type more than 75 wpm and have a foot pedal.
- Pioneer Transcription Services – Currently looking for Spanish-to-English transcriptionists, as well as typists who can transcribe video files and insert on-screen time stamps. Candidates must already have an Infinity foot pedal and transcription software. Experience and a strong command of English are required.
- Quicktate – Hiring transcribers for all types of products, including voice-mail messages, memos, letters, legal files, medical files, recordings of phone calls, conference calls, and other audio files. Candidates must have experience and be accurate. No misdemeanor or felony convictions are allowed.
- Rev.com – Candidates don't need demonstrated experience or special qualifications. Take a grammar quiz and submit a transcript sample to demonstrate skills. A flexible, steady stream of work is available.
- scribie – Newbies are welcome, but you must be able to comprehend American, British, Australian and Indian accents. Candidates should be proficient in spoken and written English.
- Speakwrite – You must be a legal resident of the U.S. or Canada and be fluent in English. A minimum typing speed of 60 wpm with 90% accuracy is required. If applying to be a legal transcriptionist, you should have one or more years of relevant experience within the past five years. General transcription applicants should have one or more years of experience. Access to a computer, headphones, printer, foot pedal and Microsoft Word are required.
- SpeedPad – Newbies are welcome to apply. A flexible work schedule is available, with no minimum required hours. Transcribers earn between $0.25 and $2.50 per minute and can choose their own jobs in a variety of industries.
- Tigerfish – No experience is needed, but you must pass a transcription test. You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and have a high-speed internet connection and a Windows-based computer.
- TranscribeMe – Pay ranges from $15 to $22 per audio hour, with average monthly earnings of $250. No experience or upfront investment is required.
- Transcript Divas – No experience is required, as long as you meet the company's standards. Average pay is at least $16 an hour.
- Ubiquis – You must have one to five years of relevant experience or be a current transcription student. Candidates must have experience with Microsoft Word and adhere to strict deadlines.
- VerbalInk – Newbies are welcome to apply, but online transcription candidates must be able to understand heavy accents and tell the difference between similar-sounding voices. Strong command of the English language and some computer skills are required.
For additional opportunities, check out the book by Lisa Mills described above or visit FlexJobs. FlexJobs is one of my favorite online job boards. Its leads are researched and always remote.
You should also check out this list from Real Ways to Earn, which has some great transcription jobs from home.
What keywords do transcription job descriptions include?
Typical keywords you'll find in transcription job descriptions include communication skills, English proficiency, attention to details, ability to meet deadlines/time-management, and typing speed and accuracy.
Be sure your resume or cover letter reflects the keywords and skills the hiring company specifies. If you don't have the required experience as a transcriptionist, it's important to show that your specific background has given you the skills you need to be an asset to the company.
Highlight any positions you've held where typing speed and accuracy were essential. Mention any experience you have paying close attention to details, along with your ability to process audible information.
Because grammar and spelling are also essential parts of transcribing, be sure you include positions where these components of English mattered.
What experience do you need on your resume?
Transcription job descriptions tend to focus on your ability to transcribe audio content accurately and quickly. Your typing skills need to be solid, so if you haven't typed much since high school, you should consider taking some free online training.
On your resume, you'll want to highlight your typing speed and accuracy. If you have the experience, use numbers from your past to provide a specific look at your qualifications (i.e.: 98% accuracy on difficult audio transcription).
Listening skills are also important for transcribers. You may need to transcribe audio from a speaker with a thick accent or a speech impediment. Be sure your resume highlights your ability to listen, and indicate if you have experience with difficult audio (or with people who can at times be difficult to understand).
Not all audio features the English language, and some companies specify a preference for candidates who can speak multiple languages. If you are multilingual, be sure your resume reflects your proficiency in other languages.
What are typical interview questions?
The hiring company will have some unique questions for specific home transcription jobs. However, here are some typical questions you might get during a transcriptionist job interview:
- Do you double-check your work? Give us an example of a time when you caught errors doing this step.
- Tell us about your knowledge of spelling and grammar. Have you ever had a role where they were important?
- Tell us about your organization skills. Many clients require unique systems and software. How would you keep track of this information to ensure you use the proper procedures for each one?
- Why do you want to work for this company? What drew you to this position?
- Do you have the availability in your schedule to meet the required turnaround time?
- What is your experience working remotely?
In addition to the general questions designed to help the interview committee learn more about you, you'll likely receive some role-specific questions, such as:
- What would you do if you couldn't understand part of an audio file you were transcribing?
- What medical specialty do you consider the most difficult to transcribe? Why?
- Describe your training and experience in this industry. Do you hold any certificates?
- When you come across a term in the audio that you don't understand, what reference materials will you use to learn what the word means?
- The files you will be transcribing are confidential. How will you ensure confidentiality on all materials?
How do you know if something is a scam?
Unfortunately, there are scams in all fields, including transcription work. To protect yourself from transcription job scams, here are some common red flags to watch for.
- Too good to be true. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true in terms of pay, hours and expectations, it probably is.
- Requires too much information. Be cautious about giving out your personal information in order to learn more about an opportunity. Your social security number shouldn't be required to find out the details of a position.
- Pay us before we pay you. Generally speaking, if the company requires you to pay money before landing a job, it's likely a scam. The exception could be a company requesting a background check. If you're applying to a company that requires this, be sure you thoroughly research both the hiring company and the company used to perform the check before paying.
- No company name or contact information. Companies offering legitimate work want you to spend a little time researching them before you apply. This helps ensure you're a good fit for both the job and the team. If no company name is listed or no contact information is available, it could be a sign of a scam.
Typically, transcriber pay is per word or per line transcribed, or more commonly per audio hour. Remember that an audio hour is not the length of time it takes you to transcribe the file. It's a flat rate for the length of the audio file.
It can take anywhere from three to six hours to transcribe one audio hour, depending on the audio quality, the number of speakers and your experience. Divide that audio hour quote by three or four. Is that an hourly wage you can live with?
If the company is promising much more than that, be sure to do your research. Check for independent reviews of the company, and see if other people have experience with them.
How do you use remote transcription work as a stepping-stone?
This is an important question because you don't want to be stuck at a low-paying transcription job forever.
You can use your entry level home transcription job to start gaining the experience you need to break into higher-paying jobs or to strike out on your own with a freelance transcription business, if that's what you want to do.
If you find that you enjoy transcription work, consider investing in some training to become more specialized. Companies such as TranscribeAnywhere offer both free and paid training courses for general and legal transcription.
Transcription jobs from home aren't for everyone, but even if you decide not to make a complete career change, your experience won't be wasted.
You are gaining important typing skills, learning to manage your time in a remote job, and learning to work as a contract employee. You're learning to complete work accurately and on a deadline, and improving your listening skills. These skills will help you as you prepare to apply to your dream position.
Originally published on May 1, 2016. Updated March 2020.