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General Transcription Jobs. Free information. Work from home.
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What is General Transcription?
General transcription is anything that is not medical transcription, such as conference calls, seminars, podcasts, reports, sermons, focus groups, statements, radio and television shows, interviews, lectures, etc.
A person once told me, "Transcription doesn't take any skill." Wrong! Transcription isn't rocket science, but it's not so easy that a monkey could do it either. In fact, transcription takes skill and talent beyond simple typing ability. You must have excellent spelling and grammar, a broad vocabulary, strong attention to detail, the ability to effectively research unfamiliar terminology, and the appropriate software and equipment.
In addition, you must be willing and able to work independently with no distractions. You must be focused, disciplined, patient, and not easily frustrated. You must be professional in work habits, attitude, and demeanor. You MUST meet deadlines! Treat your clients with respect. If you commit to a job, do it. Don't flake out, make excuses, or disappear. "Working for yourself" is somewhat of a misnomer. In actuality, you work for the client.
Contrary to popular belief, transcription is not something that just anyone can do. It sounds like simple work and easy money, but it is not. Transcription is very challenging work and the field is competitive, so only the best will succeed. Just because it's an "extra money" job doesn't mean it should not be taken seriously.
Let's examine some key transcription requirements in more detail.
People talk at rates ranging from about 140 to well over 200 words per minute, so unless you're using a steno machine, you will not be able to type as fast as a person can talk. A steno machine is what court reporters use in a courtroom or deposition proceeding. The faster your typing speed the better, but a minimum of 60 wpm is sufficient for transcription. Ideally you should be able to type at least 15 minutes of audio in one hour. Now, that's just the typing part. You will also have to proofread the transcript, research names, terminology, etc., and re-listen to parts of the audio that you didn't get the first time around.
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Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary
Excellent spelling, grammar, and vocabulary are essential to transcription. Do you know the difference between "compliment" and "complement"? What about "ordinance" and "ordnance"? "Discreet" and "discrete"? "Prescribe" and "proscribe"? Some words are pronounced the same way, or similarly, but spelled differently, so you have to use context to determine the spelling. Are you able to do that? Is it one word, two words, or hyphenated? Sometimes it will depend on how the word is used; i.e., verb, noun, adverb, adjective.
As far as resources to utilize, sometimes the AP Stylebook is recommended, but I don't see the point since you are not going to write anything. You are going to transcribe verbatim speech. As such, I highly recommend utilizing court reporter resources such as Punctuation for Court Reporters by Nathaniel Weiss and Morson's English Guide for Court Reporters by Lillian I. Morson for tips and tricks on how to make the spoken word “make sense” when put into written form. People don’t always speak in grammatically correct sentences, and sometimes they use words that don’t even exist! As a transcriptionist, you are not allowed to edit verbatim speech. Sometimes minor tweaking is allowed and you may able to eliminate false starts and/or excessive stuttering (clean verbatim), but that's it. By and large, you cannot add to or subtract from the transcription. If the client requires "strict verbatim," then every single stutter, false start, uh, ah, etc., has to be typed.
Some online resources:
Hearing vs. Listening
Having a strong vocabulary and general knowledge of a wide variety of subjects will help you greatly in being able to listen intuitively and with common sense as opposed to just "spacing out" and typing what you hear or think you hear. It's important to be well-read and aware of what's going on in the world around you. You need to have a general understanding of topics such as technology, business, finance, religion, academics, marketing, society, law, medicine, etc. You are not just typing words. You need to be able to comprehend the material in order to use context to transcribe it accurately.
Reseach and Proofreading
Always proofread your work. If the audio is especially challenging, you should proof to audio as well. Always look up spellings of names and unfamiliar words. Don't guess or assume. For example, is it Kmart or K-Mart? Nitpicky, yes, but it's very important to be as accurate as possible. You need to be detailed and resourceful. Sometimes you can type in a word phonetically and it will pop right up, or you can type in the context of a word and find what you're looking for. Sometimes you will have to do some digging. Don't just automatically put "inaudible" for things you can't get. Do the research. Although search engines are useful tools, they are not the be-all and end-all. Most things can be looked up by doing an Internet search, but you can't find everything, so it's important to utilize other resources as well.
General Transcription Software and Equipment
You will need:
- Reliable computer with the latest operating system.
- Reliable high-speed Internet connection.
- Microsoft Word.
- Transcription software, headset, and foot pedal.
In addition to the above, you must be computer literate and technologically savvy in order to download/upload files and troubleshoot any technical issues that may arise.
Express Scribe is the most popular software for transcription. You can download a free trial version, but after the free trial is over, you will be asked to upgrade to the Pro version which costs about $30. This is a one-time fee, but you will also have to pay for upgrades to the software. Of course, you don't have to upgrade, but it is highly recommended. Only the Pro version allows transcription of video files. You cannot transcribe videos in the free trial version.
Transcription is largely done over the internet via digital audio/video files, but if working with tapes, then purchasing transcribing machines for standard size and/or microcassette tapes will be necessary as well. If working with DVDs, then consider the Start-Stop DVD/Video transcription system.
Purchasing transcription software is well worth the investment if you're serious about doing transcription work.
General Transcription Jobs
Here is a list of general transcription companies that hire home-based workers. These are legitimate companies. They do not charge fees. However, if you don't already own a headset, foot pedal, and software, you will need to purchase these, but you should not pay anyone a "fee" to work for them. Any company that asks for money is a scam. They should be paying you to work for them, not the other way around!
Legitimate companies will ask you to fill out a W-9 form, and at the end of the year, if you have made over $600 with any one company, that company will issue a 1099-MISC form for you to file with your tax return. In most cases, you will be required to sign confidentiality agreements as well.
Most of these companies require experience. If you don't have experience, I suggest you take a look at Transcribe Anywhere.
- AccuTran Global
- Administrative Plus Support Services
- Allegis Transcription
- ALM Transcription
- ANP Transcription
- ASC Services (formerly Morningside Partners)
- AudioFile Solutions
- Automatic Sync Technologies
- Birch Creek Communications
- Cambridge Transcriptions
- Casting Words
- Daily Transcription
- Done it Now
- Focus Forward
- Get Transcribed
- GMR Transcription
- Hollywood Transcriptions
- Landmark Associates
- Moving On Productions
- Neil R. Gross & Co., Inc. (legal)
- Net Captioning
- Net Transcripts
- Pioneer Transcription Services
- Production Transcripts
- Quality Transcription Solutions
- Quality Transcription Specialists
- Quick Transcription Service
- Rev.com (transcription)
- Rev.com (captions)
- RNK Productions, LLC | 1st Choice Transcription
- ScriptoSphere (India only)
- Talking Type Captions
- Transcribe Team
- Transcript Divas
- Transcription Express (Arizona only)
- Transcription Hub
- Transcriptions 'N Translations
- Transcription Vendors
- TSI Transcripts
- TTE Transcripts Worldwide
- U.S. Captioning Company
- Vanan Transcription
- Verbal Ink
- VerbIT (foot pedal not required)
- VIA Captions (foot pedal not required)
- VITAC Captions
- Way With Words
These three companies appear to be the same:
As I mentioned previously, Express Scribe is the most popular transcription software available. I've listed some others here. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as free transcription software, but these programs do have free trials so that you can try before you buy.
- F4 Audio and Video
- FTR Player (scroll down to "Player" and click to go to the download page)
- FTW Transcriber
- VLC Media Player
- ViewScribe (plug-in for Windows Media Player)
Do you work from home doing transcription?
General Transcription Pay Rates
Pay for general transcription usually ranges from $10 to $60 per audio hour. As mentioned previously, the average transcriptionist types a minimum of 15 minutes of audio per hour, so on average it takes about four hours to transcribe one hour of audio plus proofing, research, editing, and re-listening to difficult parts of the audio. You won't get rich doing transcription, but if you are smart, talented, focused, disciplined, detail-oriented, love learning new things, and don't mind typing for hours on end, you can make good extra money doing transcription from home.
How to Get Started in General Transcription
One way you can get started is by applying to the companies listed above. The majority of these companies require experience. If you have little to no experience, you may want to get your feet wet by accepting assignments on Guru or Upwork. Be honest about your capabilities and only bid on projects that fit with your skills and knowledge. Do not state in your profile that you have skills and experience that you do not possess. If you accept a project, do not back out of it. Do the best job you can and proofread your work before submission. This will ensure that you get a good rating which will help you get more projects and make more money. Remember, you work for the client, not for yourself, so be sure to do exactly what the client asks when the client asks you to do it.
General transcription is not for everyone, but it is a good opportunity for stay-at-home moms, retirees, and disabled individuals to make extra money. However, as previously discussed, it is a lot tougher than most people think. It is not an "easy money" job. It's not simple typing. It's not brainless work. You must have skills, talent, and professionalism. Just because it's a work-from-home job doesn't mean it's not a job. It is a real job that requires real skills.
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