How to Become a Transcriptionist: Transcribe From Home

Wanna know how to become a transcriptionist? Transcription jobs don’t seem hard at all. But once you’re there, you’ll come to realize that it’s not entirely a walk in the park.

You don’t have to worry. In this article, I’ll teach you how to become a transcriber.

You’ll learn these things:

  • Skills you need to become a successful transcriptionist
  • Tools and resources you need to become a transcriptionist
  • Places to find transcription jobs

You don’t need a diploma.

And you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars just to get started.

This makes transcription one of the best business ideas for women and men who want to work from home.

Ready? Let’s get started!

What Does a Transcriptionist Do?

A transcriptionist puts video or audio clips into written or printed form.

They transcribe materials.

That’s why they’re also known as transcribers.

You see those TV characters in courtrooms who sit at a computer typing what’s being said in the room?

That’s a transcriptionist.

The captions you see onscreen while watching your favorite Marvel movies?

That’s also a transcriptionist’s work.

From podcasts to business meetings to interviews, transcriptionists have a lot of job opportunities available to them.

Clients might have different specifications when it comes to transcribing files.

Some would want you to do verbatim transcription.

Meaning, you’ll transcribe audio files exactly as they are, including the uhms and the uh-uhs.

There’s also intelligent transcription.

This means you can leave out some parts of the audio files that might not be clear. As long as the meaning of the message doesn’t change.

And then there’s edited transcription.

You are free to finetune some speaking parts to make them more sensible.

This is usually true for publicly available texts.

How Much Do Transcriptionists Make?

The average salary of transcriptionists is $24,000 a year.

The average hourly rate is about $25 per hour for independent contractors.

But it can go as low as $15 an hour for some companies.

Beginner transcribers can expect to get paid $10 to $15 per hour.

Transcribing more technical audio/video files, especially in certain industries like legal and medical, may command higher rates.

But of all transcription jobs, live captioning is the highest paying as it needs the most skill.

You need to have unbelievably fast typing skills. And you have to have industry knowledge as it doesn’t give you time to do your research.

Real-time captioners may earn an average of $50,000 a year.

Do note that transcriptionists are usually freelancers, which means that they have a lot of freedom.

So, their income may vary.

If you want to explore other ways to make money online, you might also want to consider bookkeeping.

Read this comprehensive guide on how to become a bookkeeper with no experience!

And if you’re already bookkeeping and you’re looking for a good online course to help you scale your business further, check out my Bookkeeper Launch review.

Types of Transcription Jobs

Transcription jobs come in many forms. Here are the most common that you should know:

  • General

Beginners often start here.

General transcription jobs typically involve non-technical audio files into texts.

These may include general interviews or speeches.

  • Legal

Legal transcription is very technical.

That’s why a lot of successful transcriptionists in this space are either industry experienced or have prior knowledge.

Courtrooms and lawyers are often the ones seeking legal transcriptionists.

  • Medical

Medical transcriptionists turn audio files made by doctors and other health pros into texts. These texts are often used in patient files.

Like legal transcriptions, medical is highly technical.

Most medical transcriptionists have some field experience to understand industry jargon.

  • Live captioning

It’s also known as real-time captioning.

It’s a difficult task since the job has to be done live. You transcribe as the speaker speaks.

Live caption transcribers have first-class listening and typing skills.

  • Closed captioning

Closed captioning is for TV shows, videos, and movies.

You see those subtitles at the bottom of the screen?

Those are the work of closed caption transcribers.

How to Become a Transcriptionist From Home

A transcriptionist’s job may look easy on paper. But in reality, it’s not.

Apart from your typing skills, you need to cultivate a few more skills to become successful in the field.

1. Polish Your Typing Skills

The basic thing you need to learn and polish is your typing skills.

Make it fast and accurate.

A good typing speed of a transcriptionist is at 60-80 words per minute. With very minimal errors.

But I recommend improving your typing skills to reach at least 70 words per minute. Again, with very minimal errors.

That’s a little over the usual requirement of most transcription jobs.

To polish your transcription skills even further, there are so many resources out there to help you out.

Udemy and YouTube are great places to find free training.

Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning are good learning platforms too if you have a little bit of money to spare.

However, if you want to have comprehensive training on transcription and you have the budget, I highly recommend the Transcribe Anywhere course.

It’s the most popular transcription course on the market developed by Janet Shaughnessy.

Transcribe Anywhere - how to become a transcriptionist

In the course, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of general transcription and legal transcription.

I talked a lot about Transcribe Anywhere in my review.

Be sure to check that out if you want to know how to become a transcriptionist that earns well.

2. Improve Your Listening Skills

A transcription job requires more than just fast and accurate typing skills.

You also need to have exceptional listening skills.

A huge part of transcription is your ability to pick apart what’s being said in the audio/video and put that into eligible words.

Even in transcribing general topics, your listening skills will be challenged by so many factors.

These include background noises, loud music, crosstalk, and soft voices.

In many cases, you might need to make intelligent “sounds like” guesses.

3. Have Superb Attention to Details

Since transcription is also about details, your attention to the smallest detail is a no-brainer.

This is particularly true for verbatim transcription jobs wherein you need to transcribe exactly what the audio file says.

Yes! It includes fillers like “like,” “uhm,” “uh-uh,” etc.

In some transcription jobs, especially in courtrooms, these contribute to the meaning conveyed by the speakers in the audio.

And transcriptionists have to be particular with these when the client requests so.

4. Have Good Research Skills

Outstanding research skill is a must-have for transcriptionists.

Files on different topics are given to them every day.

Having fantastic research skills is a big advantage for catching words or terminologies they’re not familiar with.

And these include finding crucial information and proper nouns like names, companies, acronyms, etc.

5. Learn Some Basic Computer Skills

You don’t need to have advanced computer skills to become a transcriptionist.

Basic skills like knowing to use Google search and Microsoft Word are enough to qualify you for the job.

You might also be required to use transcription software per client specifications.

Therefore, you must be willing to learn how to use the software.

6. Know How to Manage Multiple Tasks at Once

Unlike what so many work-from-home hustlers will tell you, transcription isn’t just about typing and listening. 

You need to be able to do different tasks at once.

It’s not uncommon on the job to listen and type at the same time and then look up words/phrases you barely know.

How to Become a Transcriptionist: Tools You Need to Become Successful

Transcription has a low barrier to entry.

You don’t need a fancy pair of headsets or a high-spec MacBook to get started.

With just a computer and an internet connection, you can get started with transcription anytime.

However, having the right tools will most definitely give you a leg up in a sea of transcriptionists.

Note that some clients might require you to have these. Some don’t.

Here are the extra tools you should keep in your arsenal:

1. Foot Pedal

A foot pedal or WAV pedal allows you to control dictation playback with your toes.

Play, rewind or fast forward. Foot pedals make transcription jobs so much easier and productive.

A good foot pedal costs around $20.

2. Headphones

A regular pair of headphones is fine.

But if you want to up your game, a more advanced pair would be awesome.

Look for a pair with active noise-canceling capabilities to keep you laser-focused on the job.

A decent pair of ANC headphones cost around $100 to $300.

3. Transcription Software

Transcription software makes your job more convenient and effective.

Sure, you can use Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

However, transcription software gives you more control over your task at hand.

Programs like Express Scribe Pro and Trint work well with foot pedals.

Transcription software costs around $20 to $90.

The following books and courses can also help get you started with transcription:

How to Become a Transcriptionist: Recommended Resources

Aside from the tools, you also need resources to polish your transcription knowledge and skillset.

Here are great resources to help you learn how to become a transcriptionist:

1. Transcribe Anywhere

As I said, Transcribe Anywhere is the most comprehensive transcription course you can find online.

It is, however, a bit pricey.

The general transcription course costs $797. The legal transcription course costs $897.

But you can get both courses for only $1,297.

If you’re still on the fence, you can try the Transcribe Anywhere FREE Mini-Course to see if this is something you’re interested in.

2. Jump-Start Your Work at Home General Transcription Career

If you’re looking for a good book to read, Lisa Mills’s book is the one to get.

While it zeroes in on general transcription, the book is a great starting point if you are really serious about making a living transcribing.

You can get this book on Amazon.

3. Become a General Transcriptionist and Get Paid to Type

Another good book to get is Nicole Dean’s.

It’s also about general transcription. But you can take away a lot of good knowledge from this book.

You can get this book on Amazon.

Where to Find Transcription Jobs

Now that you have an idea of how to become a transcriptionist from home, it’s time to find jobs!

This is the hard yet fun part.

If you don’t get the first dozens of applications, don’t lose hope.

It’s part of being a freelance transcriptionist.

But these online job platforms will definitely give you a headstart:

1. FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a popular online job platform to find stable transcription gigs.

Whether you want to work from home or in-office, FlexJobs has a variety of transcription job postings for you.

2. Fiverr

Fiverr might have a reputation for cheap projects, it’s still a great place to find transcription gigs.

It all boils down to your niche and positioning.

3. Upwork

The most popular online job platform, Upwork, is saturated. No doubt!

But you can still find many good projects here as a beginner.

4. Rev

Rev is a company offering speech-to-text services.

If you want to have a steady flow of work, joining companies like Rev is not a bad option at all.

The payment is decent. They pay on time. And they have consistent work for you.

5. Scribie

Scribie is another reliable speech-to-text service provider.

 It’s super flexible. You can work as much and as little as you want.

Most of Scribie’s files are shorter, about 10 minutes or less.

It’s perfect for people who just want a side hustle.

Ready to Become a Transcriptionist?

And that’s how to become a transcriber!

It doesn’t really need much to start to be perfectly honest.

All you need is dedication and the right skills.

If you think becoming a transcriptionist is what you want full-time, it pays to invest in things that will make your transcription profession or business better.

That’s why I highly recommend taking the Transcribe Anywhere course if you are serious about making a living out of it.

The course isn’t cheap. But it will definitely give you a leg up in this saturated market.

Be sure to check out the Transcribe Anywhere FREE Mini-Course to help you decide.

That’s it for now!

Questions about transcription? Let me know in the comments!

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Adam Hendricks

Chief content marketer and funnel hacker at Performance Funnels. With over 10 years of digital marketing experience, Adam enjoys helping people make money online with affiliate marketing and sales funnels.