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How to Get Started Working from Home as a Transcriptionist

Updated on September 4, 2014


One of the easiest ways to make money from home is by doing transcription. What is transcription? Basically, it's typing what you hear in an audio file. Many different fields use transcriptionists. The three main categories of transcription for people who work from home are medical, legal, and general transcription. Medical transcription involves typing up notes recorded by doctors and other medical personnel so they can be included in patients' medical files. Examples of types of things you might transcribe include History and Physical reports and Surgery reports. Legal transcription involves typing up notes from recordings of trials and other legal proceedings. General transcription is very broad - things you might transcribe include interviews, phone conversations, and sermons. This article will focus on how to get started in general transcription, including skills and equipment you'll need, as well as sites that hire beginning general transcriptionists.

Which of these fields is easiest to get into?

General transcription is definitely the easiest to get into, because you usually need no specialized knowledge. To get into medical and legal transcription, you'll have to learn the terminology as well as other important aspects of the medical and legal fields.

What skills do I need to be a good transcriptionist?

Fast and accurate typing skills are helpful, but not required. A lot of transcription companies will require that you type a certain number of words per minute, however these companies also usually require experience. The companies that I'll mention at the end of this article have very low requirements for typing speed, so it should be pretty easy for someone who types an average per minute rate (say 30 to 50 words per minute) to pass the transcription test at these companies.

What equipment and software do I need to do transcription from home?

It varies from one company to the next, but to do transcription for the companies mentioned in this article, all you need is a headset and transcription software - Expresscribe is a free program that you can download to load audio files into. You may also want to purchase a USB foot pedal to use to start and stop the audio - this way you can leave your hands free.

There are a few other programs that can make it much easier to transcribe files. If you're transcribing long audio files, as I mentioned above, Express Scribe and a transcription foot pedal are absolute musts. Another absolute must for people who transcribe long audios is a text expander program - I use a free program called Phrase Express. You can program short cuts into it for words you type often, such as "inaudible," or any speaker tags you use often.

Something else that's useful for transcriptionists to have is a template. This isn't a program obviously, but it's essential for people who transcribe long transcriptions often for a specific client or company. It shows you the proper setup for the transcription, and what tags to use to label the speakers. If you're doing transcription for a private client, they may provide you with a template. If you they don't, be sure to ask if there's a specific template or format they want you to use.

How much can I make as a transcriptionist?

That depends on the site - different sites and different clients charge different rates. In addition, transcription is paid differently from one company to the next - one company may pay so much per audio minute, while another may pay a certain amount per line of text . Medical and legal transcription is usually paid on a per line basis, while general transcription is usually paid per audio hour or audio minute. This means you're paid for the amount of audio you transcribe, not the amount of time it takes you to transcribe the audio.

Where can I get started doing general transcription?

There are a few different sites that you can sign up to do general transcription at:

Mturk - This website has several requesters on it that provide transcription work, such as CastingWords and SpeechInk, but you can also search for other transcription jobs by typing “transcription” in the search box. Some audios can be harder than others to transcribe, so be sure you listen to the audio before you accept the job, and read the guidelines so you know how to transcribe things like inaudible speech - though you can return the audio once you accept it if you find you can't finish it, it will hurt your ratings with Mturk, so try to finish any job you accept. Payment for jobs that you complete on Mturk is sent to your Amazon Payments account; you can then either transfer the earnings to an Amazon gift card or to your bank account.

Scribie - This website posts audios that are usually six minutes or less in length. Some can be difficult to understand, either because of poor audio quality or because the speaker or speakers may have an accent, but just like with Mturk, you can return any audio you find difficult to transcribe. You can also listen to a little bit of the audio before you accept it so you can decide if it's one you want to transcribe. If you do well as a transcriber at Scribe, you may be given the opportunity to be a reviewer. This website pays via PayPal - you can withdraw your earnings any time, however if you've made less than $30 when you withdraw your earnings, Scribie will deduct a 2% fee from your earnings.

TranscribeMe - This website does things a bit differently from the other two. Many of the audios that you'll transcribe for this website, you transcribe using the website's player . You can't download the audios into Express Scribe, however, the audios are usually short enough that you should be able to transcribe them quickly. This site pays via PayPal once a week; you can choose when you want to get paid - the payment is sent to your Paypal account in about 24 to 48 hours after you've requested it, and there is also a small fee deducted from your payment.


Transcription is just one way you can earn money working from home - there are many others. To find out more about other ways you can make money from home, as well as some of the things you need to keep in mind about working from home, check out my book on Amazon.


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