How To Work As A Work-At-Home Transcriptionist

Being a work at home transcriptionist is a great way to make cash in your spare time, or alternatively it can be a rewarding full time career. The flexible working hours and the opportunity to be available for your family make being a transcriptionist an ideal job for some people.

What do transcriptionists do?

A lot of transcription work is medical transcription, but legal transcriptionists can find a lot of work too. Medical transcription involves accurately transcribing patients’ medical records. These records include clinic notes, physical reports, consultation notes, letters, X-Ray results, psychiatric reports, and more. Legal transcription involves creating legal documents. All transcriptionists- legal, medical or otherwise- receive dictation by a digital system or audio file, using headphones, a foot pedal for start/stop control, software and a laptop to type out what the doctor or other medical staff dictates. After typing out the document, a transcriptionist will upload the document onto a secure server, or transmit the document by some other method.

Most employers require potential transcriptionists to have experience or a formal qualification or certificate. However, some companies hire candidates who don’t have any formal qualifications.

Skills you’ll need

Though plenty of companies don’t require formal qualifications, you still need these skills to be a successful transcriptionist:

Good typing skills

A transcriptionist’s job is to turn audio files or live dictation into specially formatted documents (transcripts). You’ll probably have a foot pedal to pause the recording if you need to, or you may be able to pause the audio file on your computer. But if you don’t have a typing speed of at least 60 words per minute, you won’t meet employers’ standards- and you’ll have to work so many hours that the pay will not be worth it.

Writing skills

Just the same as with any writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation are very important in transcription. Because you’re hearing audio, you have to decide where to put the punctuation and which words are being used, i.e. thought or sought, or there or their.

Good research skills 

As a transcriptionist, you’re typing about things you don’t encounter in your daily life. This goes for both legal and medical transcription. This can be fun, but unless you’ve studied Latin, you might need to research how to spell legal terms correctly. If you’re doing medical transcription, a medical dictionary might come in handy. You’ll also be exposed to ideas, place names and issues which are new to you. 

How to start your career as a transcriptionist:

  • As with any career, create a great CV and cover letter.
  • Some employers will ask you to complete a short transcription as part of your application assessment. Therefore, it’s better to have all your transcription gear handy before applying. 
  • Search job boards and Google for transcription vacancies. Don’t be discouraged if you find it hard to get started- finding your first job is the hardest part. Once you’ve got experience, your second job will come easier.


What you’ll need to be a work at home transcriptionist


Transcriptionists can be paid anywhere from $6 to $60 per hour. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $34,020 in May 2012. This field is generally quite variable and salary depends a lot on experience.





Legal transcription



Medical transcription



Working as a transcriptionist takes a lot of attention to detail, precision and focus. It’s hard work. But the job also lets you earn money from the comfort of your own home and learn interesting things along the way. 


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