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Medical Transcriptionist Jobs and Experience

Updated on July 4, 2013

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Doctors and healthcare professionals often have to write documents such as diagnostic reports, letters to patients and supply requirements. The fastest way for them to create written materials is to dictate it into a recording that is then processed by medical transcriptionists into written communications. Although many transcriptionists work in hospitals and doctors’ offices, they can also work from home.


Medical transcriptionists do not need experience to obtain their positions, at least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although as with any jobs, experience can bring higher compensation. Instead, most employers prefer those with postsecondary training in medical transcription, which is available in vocational and technical schools, and community colleges. Programs of study can take one or two years to complete and provide training in medical terminology, anatomy, ethics, law and transcription mechanics. Although not required, certification can enhance job prospects, especially for the inexperienced.


Typical equipment for medical transcriptionists includes a dictation playback device that is foot-controlled and headphones for listening to recordings. These tools may be connected to computers, though which workers enter the text that they hear. After transcriptionists finish the initial transcription, they edit the draft to correct any errors in spelling, grammar or miscommunication. If they discover problems that they cannot resolve independently, they contact the provider of the recording for clarification. One important difference between transcriptionists in healthcare and those in other industries is the need to safeguard confidential medical information, by following industry guidelines and legal documentation requirements.


To obtain jobs, inexperienced transcriptionists may need to rely more on personal characteristics than those with several jobs under their belts. Computer skills are vital since the job is primarily accomplished with digital hardware and software. Transcriptionists must pay attention to detail to distinguish words that may sound the same but have different meanings when spelled in different ways. A good command of the English language helps with understanding verbal communication and translating it to written forms. Workers must practice good time-management because they may be handling several jobs at once, each of which is due immediately.


Although an aging baby boom population will need the medical services that transcriptionists document, jobs for the position are predicted to increase by only 6 percent from 2010 to 2020 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is less than half the 14 percent projected for all occupations in all industries. The lower than average rate is because many potential employers outsource their documentation needs to other countries, and sophisticated speech-to-text technology allow doctors to create the initial drafts. As of May 2011, medical transcriptionists earned a mean $34,050 per year, or $16.37 per hour. Those without experience generally earned close to or under $22,010 yearly, or $10.58 hourly, while those with expertise made over an annual $46,680, or $22.44 per hour.


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    • Claudia Marie profile image

      Claudia Marie 4 years ago

      No machine could ever replace a human, I think the industry is finding that out. Thanks for your comment.

    • BethWorthy profile image

      Jack 4 years ago from Levis

      I completely agree with Claudia and this is mainly because mostly folks consider that human transcriptionist are comparatively slow, expensive, and inconsistent.

    • Claudia Marie profile image

      Claudia Marie 4 years ago

      In many areas medical transcription is being replaced by machines, this is a sad replacement for the human transcriptionist.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Glad you at least made double the maximum wage, vespawoolf.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      I actually looked into this, as you can work from home. There are online companies that will train you and provide you with work, but as you mention, you do need the skills and specialist equipment. That said, for a 'work at home' option, it certainly pays better than most!

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and useful.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Medical transcription is one of the many hats I've worn. We made almost double the amount quoted as the maximum wage, although I must say that we were exceptionally fast and efficient. : ) Earnings increase when transcription is performed for a set group of physicians, as the transcriber becomes accustomed to pronunciation and terminology. We were eventually undercut due to the advance in technology, which you mention. This is a helpful and accurate description of this field of work.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I worked in a health clinic in the days of the old dictaphone. Even then, with the doctor within reach to ask for an explanation, it was difficult; medical transcription calls for accuracy at its best. Glad the experts make a decent sum. Thanks again, Alocsin for doing the research and making a good presentation.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      This is actually one of those fun jobs. I was a transcriptionist for a short duration during my college days. I worked for an attorney. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I see that the salary is still the same, in relation to the economic times. I call it poverty line salary. It doesn't quite pay all the bills. But, it's a job, right?

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      The last time I went to see my doctor, she was writing everything in my file on a computer. I think it's good because it saves time and hopefully on the long run, doctors should be able to transmit your files to any hospital in your city first but also anywhere in the world if needed when you travel... because you whole medical history should be there and easy to retrieve!

      The good thing of having medical transcriptionist would be in her case to transcript everything before she started writing on the computer.