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Do you have mad typing skills, good headphones and some spare time on your hands? Then we’ve got a flexible work-from-home gig for you. If you can type, you should add “work-from-home transcriber” to your list of side hustles.
There are thousands of transcription jobs out there, ripe for the plucking. Full-time jobs, part-time jobs, legal transcription jobs, freelance transcription jobs, medical transcription, you name it. We’ll explore those a little further down.
Transcription is an unsung hero in the work-from-home job market. Depending on how much transcribing you can handle, you can earn a decent living this way.
Where’s a good place to find these online transcription jobs? Try places like ZipRecruiter, a massive online job board. Actually, it’s more of a marketplace that allows employers to post a job opening to multiple online job boards at the same time.
The site is free for job seekers to use. You can search for jobs based on factors like desired salary, location or various keywords.
In this case, you’re going to want to type the following into ZipRecruiter’s search bar: Either “transcription” or “home transcription.” You can find literally thousands of available transcription jobs this way.
You can also post a profile on the site that potential employers can see. You can post your resume, references, social network handles or a profile picture, among other things.
What Qualifications Do You Need?
For most of these online transcription jobs, you’ll need to be ready to start immediately and you’ll need the required equipment, including noise-canceling headphones and a foot pedal for audio playback. That way you’ll be able to move back and forth through audio files with ease.
Oh, you’ll also need to be able to type at least 75 words per minute. (You can take a free typing speed test at sites like TypingTest or 10FastFingers.)
Just so you know, a lot of transcription services have requirements like the following:
- Be a native English speaker
- Have citizenship and a residency in the U.S.
- Strong grammar and proofreading skills
- A high-speed internet connection (minimum 15Mbps)
- A PC with a transcription software package
- Microsoft Word and Excel knowledge
- Complete an assessment to demonstrate editing and accuracy skills
Once the transcription company sends you an audio file, off you go! Time to earn some money without leaving your house.
What Is a Transcriptionist?
Transcription work involves converting a video or audio file to a written document. You need stellar listening skills and an excellent command of the English language to be able to take what you hear and turn it into written words.
Transcriptionists produce written records of conversations, interviews, programs, lectures and more. They also help provide accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Transcriptionists work in a variety of settings including courtrooms and doctors’ offices, but there’s a lot of flexibility in this profession to work from home — and at your own pace.
Many transcription jobs from home don’t require strict set hours. You can find contract gigs that pay by the amount of work you’re able to transcribe rather than being on a payroll and earning an hourly or annual salary.
As a freelance transcriptionist, you can choose to work when you desire. You could work part time or full time, during normal business hours or at night while everyone else in your household is sleeping. Transcribing from home can be an ideal option for stay-at-home parents to earn money while juggling child care duties.
Besides the flexibility, other perks of working remotely as a transcriptionist are that you have the autonomy of working alone, and you don’t have to deal with inbound calls or the complaints of frustrated customers. Depending on what you’re transcribing, you can also learn new and interesting things.
The Main Types of Transcription Jobs
There are several different types of online transcription jobs. Typically, the transcription industry is divided into three categories: General, medical and legal transcription.
If you’re a beginner, start by looking into general transcription jobs. Those are more likely to be transcription jobs for beginners. This career path has a much lower barrier to entry — often requiring no formal education or training and little prior experience.
Working as a transcriptionist who specializes in medical transcription or legal transcription will likely require a state license or completion of a certification program. You’ll also need to understand potentially complex medical or legal terminology. These specialized fields often pay better than general transcription work.
General Transcription Jobs
General transcriptionists are hired to provide text for a variety of video or audio files. You might transcribe podcasts for a blogger or interviews for a writer. You could transcribe business meetings, college lectures, speeches at conferences or discussions during marketing focus groups.
If you’re looking for transcription jobs for beginners, this is where to start.
There are also broadcast captioners who create closed captions for movies and television programs. Real-time captioning for live events or broadcasts is in high demand and generally pays more than creating captions in post-production.
A specialized segment of captioning work is CART captioning. CART stands for “Communication Access Real-time Translation” and is for audiences who are hard of hearing or deaf. In addition to transcribing all spoken words in real time, CART captioners also make note of audible sounds like laughter or applause.
Medical Transcription Jobs
Medical transcriptionists listen to audio recordings from doctors and other healthcare professionals and convert them into written reports. While they may work from home, medical transcriptionists also work in hospitals, labs, operating rooms and other medical settings.
Working as a medical transcriptionist may require a license, certification or prior work experience depending the company you work with and the role you take on. You’ll need a robust understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, medical procedures and healthcare documentation.
While a medical transcription career often pays better than having a general online transcription job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects there will be a 2% decline in jobs in this field over the next decade. Technological advancements — such as the use of speech recognition software — and outsourcing overseas is leading to this decline.
However, some medical professionals use speech recognition software to create a first draft of the audio they’d like transcribed, and then hire a medical transcriptionist to go over the work and edit for accuracy.
Legal Transcription Jobs
Legal transcribers provide written records of depositions, trials and other legal proceedings. A court reporter is a common type of legal transcriptionist.
Legal transcriptionists may also be hired to transcribe police interrogations, victim interviews and undercover law enforcement recordings. The written documents they produce are often used to help lawyers prepare for trials and may be used in court.
Doing legal transcription usually requires a certification or license. You need to be familiar with legal terminology, procedures and systems in this line of work.
Some legal transcriptionists can work remotely, but others work on-site in courtrooms, in legislative sessions, at law offices and in other legal settings.
The BLS expects court reporter jobs will grow about 9% in this decade. However, increased technological advancements could hinder that employment growth.
What You Need to Get Started as a Transcriptionist
You’ll need a combination of technical skills, soft skills and equipment to become a transcriptionist. It may seem fairly simple to listen to a recording and type out what you hear, but it’s more challenging than you might think.
If you want to level up in your career and get paid better, seek out transcription training in a specialized field. As you move up the ladder, you’ll probably want to upgrade to better equipment, too.
Here are some of the skills, equipment and training you’ll need to build a career doing transcribing jobs.
Skills for Transcription Jobs
To work as a transcriptionist, you’ll need to have stellar listening skills, including the ability to decipher audio with heavy accents, background noises and multiple speakers. For each transcription job you take, you’ll need to be able to concentrate on a task for an extended period of time. Having a quiet, dedicated workspace at home helps.
Another important skill is the ability to type fast. If you’re just starting out, a typing speed of 65 words per minute (wpm) is fine, but eventually you’ll want to aim for between 75 to 90 wpm. The more you practice, the better your speed will get.
You should have an excellent command of the English language, including grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary. You’ll want the written copy you turn in to be free of errors, so you should have good proofreading skills as well.
Having great time-management skills will help you stay on top of deadlines. It’s also essential that you’re detail-oriented and patient in this line of work. You might be listening to the same audio over and over to transcribe audio files verbatim.
Additionally, you should be a tech savvy individual who’s able to work with the necessary software and equipment.
Equipment for Transcription Jobs
The equipment you’ll need to work from home as a transcriptionist will vary based on what type of work you do and the company you work for.
Some companies that hire newbies don’t require you to have much beyond a good-working computer, high-speed internet and a pair of earbuds or a headset.
Your computer or laptop should have sufficient RAM and storage space and should be able to run basic programs, such as Microsoft Word. The company you work for might require you to download specific software. Google Chrome is a helpful internet browser to use.
Your internet connection should have download and upload speeds of at least 10 mbps. Your company may have specific requirements.
If you actually want a career in doing online transcription jobs instead of just pursuing this as a side gig for a little extra cash, you’ll benefit from investing in noise-canceling headphones, a mechanical keyboard, dual monitors and a foot pedal for controlling audio playback.
Downloading transcription software will make your work easier and help you cut down on your transcription time. You may also want to get text expander software to help you type common words and phrases faster.
If you’re a court reporter or legal transcriptionist, you’ll probably need to use stenography equipment.
Training for Transcription Jobs
Working as a transcriptionist doesn’t require a college degree. If you are new to the field and are providing general transcription services, you likely won’t need any certification.
If you aim to specialize as a medical or legal transcriptionist, however, you will need advanced training. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer certification programs, which can last from one to three years.
Aspiring medical transcriptionists can get certified as a Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) or a Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.
The National Court Reporters Association offers certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). Another option is to earn the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) designation or Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) designation through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers. The National Verbatim Reporters Association also offers a variety of professional certifications.
If you’re a general transcriptionist, you can also take courses to improve your skills and, hopefully, advance to better paying jobs. Transcribe Anywhere has a course in general transcription — and also a free mini-course. Udemy also has various courses on how to become a transcriptionist.
When evaluating whether a course is right for you, check the reviews or, if possible, speak to program graduates to gauge whether the course increases people’s employment prospects.
If you’re going to work in the United States, we recommend you take courses from a U.S.-based company.
How Much Do Transcription Jobs Pay?
Compensation for transcription services varies based on a variety of factors, including the type of work you take on, your speed and skill level, your experience and the company you work for.
According to the compensation management company Payscale, the average hourly rate for a transcriptionist is $16.57. Beginners who do general online transcription may only earn about $10 an hour or less, but there’s potential to earn over $25 an hour as you gain experience and enter into higher-paid specialties.
Companies may also pay you more to transcribe more difficult audio — such as a recording with multiple speakers or speakers with heavy accents — or for work requiring extras, such as timestamps, or a very short turnaround time.
It’s important to note that many companies pay freelance transcribers by the audio hour (or the audio minute). What is an audio hour, you ask? It means you’ll earn money based on transcribing an hour’s worth of audio, which could take a beginner between four to six hours to complete, depending on the complexity.
Experienced transcriptionists often consider rates below $45 to $50 per audio hour too low. If it takes you five hours to transcribe one audio hour at those rates, you’d be making $9 to $10 an hour.
However, if you’re brand new to the industry, you may find it’s worth working at those lower rates to get started. As you gain experience and improve upon your skill set, you could land a better-paying transcription job later on.
Other companies may pay contract transcriptionists per project or per page of transcribed work. Factor in the time it takes you to complete each project or page to determine if the job is right for you. Generally, anything less than $1 per page is low.
As you’re evaluating pay, make sure you’re considering the costs you’ll encounter as a freelancer, especially if you’re new to working for yourself. As a 1099 worker, you’ll need to pay quarterly estimated taxes. If you aren’t covered under an employer’s health insurance plan, your healthcare costs will be coming out of your own pocket.
Do you need better tech for your work-from-home office? Will you have to upgrade your internet? Include all these extra expenses into the equation as you’re assessing a company’s offered rate.
How to Become a Transcriptionist in 7 Steps
Wondering how to become a transcriptionist? Follow these steps to launch a career — or profitable side gig — while working from home.
1. Decide What Types of Transcription Jobs You’re Interested In
Are you looking for general transcription work where you might create transcripts of podcasts for a blogger or make a written record of a company’s business meeting? Or would you like to specialize as a medical or legal transcriptionist?
Consider the amount of hours you plan to dedicate to this work. Are you looking for something full-time or part-time?
Would you like to work for a company that’ll give you transcription work or would you rather be a freelance contractor who finds your own gigs? Your answers will guide you to the right path for you.
2. Practice Your Typing or Get Some Training
The more you practice your typing and transcription skills, the quicker you’ll be able to take a recording and convert it into written copy. And the faster you’re able to turn around work, the more you’ll earn per hour.
Express Scribe has practice files for you to test your skills. So does GoTranscript.
If you want to become a medical or legal transcriptionist, check your local community college for certification programs or see the section above for accreditations you might want to pursue.
3. Prepare Your Resume
After completing training or earning a certification or license, make sure you update your resume.
Even if you choose not to pursue formal training, you should revamp your resume to highlight transferable skills that will help you succeed in a transcriptionist role, like the ability to listen attentively or being a fast typist.
4. Apply for Transcription Jobs
If you’re just starting out, it may be easier to get work through a transcription outsource company than trying to establish yourself as a freelancer.
Online job boards are especially useful here. For example, go to ZipRecruiter and type “transcription” or “home transcription” into the search bar, and check out the thousands of work-from-home job opportunities that await you.
5. Get Familiar with Each Employer’s Style Guide
Each company you work for will have its own style guide outlining its preferences for transcribed work.
Some companies may ask you to transcribe verbatim, while others will say it’s okay to correct mispronunciations or incorrect grammar. The style guide might also lay out how the company wants you to identify multiple speakers in your transcript.
Take time to study the style guide so you turn in work that adheres to the company’s guidelines.
6. Take a Typing Test
During the application process, transcription companies will have you take a typing test to access your speed and accuracy. You might be asked to listen to a few minutes of dialogue and transcribe what you hear.
The tests for lower-paying companies that hire beginners will be easier than the test for companies seeking experienced pros.
7. Make Sure You Have the Right Gear
At the very least, you’ll need a working computer or laptop, high-speed internet, quality earbuds or headphones and a quiet home office space.
Additional equipment, like a foot pedal and transcription software, may not be required by the company you work for, but it could help you do your job better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know all this, are you thinking about becoming a transcriptionist? You probably still have questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this field:
How Long Will It Take to Get Started?
The time it takes to become a professional transcriptionist can vary a lot, depending on your starting skill level and whether you want to specialize.
If you’re already a fast typist with an excellent command of the English language and good listening skills, you might be able to apply to work for a transcription company that hires inexperienced transcriptionists. Depending on how long it takes to get through the application and hiring process, you could start working in a matter of days or a couple of weeks.
However, it’ll take longer if you choose a specialized field of work. For example, to become a legal transcriptionist you would need to enroll in a two-year certification program — which some people complete while they’re working a different paying job. So it would take at least a couple of years to start your career.
If I Really Want to Do This, Where Do I Start?
If you’re new to the profession, we recommend that you start in general transcription, taking work for outsourcing companies. You can find gigs like that at and the other major online job boards.
Take practice tests before applying so you can improve your typing speed and accuracy. After working entry-level transcription jobs for a while, you’ll be able to take on higher-paying work.
How Much Can I Really Make Doing This?
The average hourly rate for a transcriptionist hovers around $16-$17, according to Payscale. However, factors such as your experience level, the business you work for, the type of work you do and your turnaround rate will make all the difference when it comes to how much money you can really make.
As a beginner, you could start out earning $10 an hour or less. We’re just being realistic here. More experienced transcriptionists who work in specialized fields are earning more than $25 an hour.
How Hard Is It to Do This, Really?
Becoming a transcriptionist doesn’t require a college education or formal training, and there are companies that hire workers with little or no experience.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that easy to become a transcriptionist. That depends largely on you.
Just like any other job, what’s easy for one person won’t be for another. Passing a company’s typing test, for example, may not be as simple as you’d imagine.
The audio files you listen to might be of poor quality, making it hard to understand what’s being said. Other times, you might have to interpret unclear dialogue spoken with a thick accent.
The work is also really repetitive, quite frankly. You will have to listen to the same audio over and over again to be sure you have transcribed it perfectly.
If you don’t like repetition, this might not be the line of work for you. But if you want to give it a try, it really helps to think about all the money you’re making.
For inspiration, go to ZipRecruiter and type “transcription” or “home transcription” into the search bar, and check out the thousands of work-from-home job opportunities that await you.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.