There are a lot of different work from home transcription opportunities.
For example, there are typing jobs for beginners. Plus, specialized options like medical transcription or legal transcription.
So, how do you know which work from home transcription path to take?
Really, it’s all up to your preferences. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of transcription. That way you will know what you’re getting into from the start.
I also recommend taking the free General Transcription course at TranscribeAnywhere. You will receive first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to make a living typing.
Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
What is transcription?
Simply put, transcription is typing out audio into a written document. This document is called a transcript.
There are different types of work from home transcription jobs like:
- Video captioning
- General Transcription
- Legal Transcription
- Medical Transcription
- Insurance Transcription
- Law Enforcement Transcription
Each operate a little differently. But the basic premise is to turn audio (whether from a recording or video) into a written document.
What skills do I need to become a transcriptionist?
Of course, you need to type quickly and accurately while listening to audio. This isn’t an easy task. Take it from me. My first remote job was in transcription. I still consider it one of the most difficult jobs I’ve had!
Additionally, you need to type at least 75 words per minute with 98% accuracy. Take a free typing test to learn your typing stats. It’s important to be a fast and accurate typist for two reasons:
- Saved Time
- More Money
When you submit a transcript with errors, your editor will kick it back to you. Now, you have to double-check your work which decreases your earnings. Second, if you type slowly it takes much longer to finish a transcript. Keep in mind, you are paid per job not per hour.
In addition to being quick and accurate you need to have a good grasp of grammar. You are responsible for formatting the transcript into a readable document with proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Spell checkers are okay, but you can’t rely on them. Brush up on basic grammar skills quickly with Udemy.
Do I need special equipment for work from home transcription?
Yes, you will need specific tools. Unfortunately, you can’t just pop in your Air Pods and start typing in Google Docs. There are tools to the trade of transcription.
The industry-standard software for audio transcription is called Express Scribe. You can download a free version of it from NCH Software. In the free version, you’ll be able to play wav, mp3, wma, and dct audio files. For most beginners, this is all you need.
Confession: I used a cheap pair of headphones from Walmart as a new transcriptionist. This was a huge mistake. I couldn’t make out what was being said because the audio quality was so poor.
Needless to say, a good pair of headphones is a must! Since you download the required software for free, invest those savings into a nice headset.
Air Pods, earbuds, Beats, and other mainstream headphones won’t cut it. These are built for music. They are not built for transcription.
Affordable Headset Options
Fortunately, Amazon sells work from home transcription headsets at reasonable prices. Look for models that go under your chin, have volume control, and replacement ear sponges. The one pictured here works well and sells for around $20 on Amazon.
Trust me, you save a lot of time and money with a good pair of headphones. Plus, you will more easily be able to decipher poor quality audio, which happens a lot!
My Favorite Headset
Olympus and Spectra are two well known brands in the transcription headset world. I’ve used models from both brands. My preference is Spectra for comfort and USB compatibility. Plus, it’s lightweight, has noise cancellation, and rubber tips instead of foam. You can pick one up on Amazon for $30 – $40.
Additionally, my preferred set has rubber ear tips instead of foam. But the noise cancellation feature really set this one apart. This allows for clearer audio with less background noise.
It also helps that they are similar to earbuds you’re already used to. There is hardly an adjustment period when starting out.
These are just a couple of options. A quick search on Amazon returns dozens of work from home transcription headsets.
Read the reviews and consider pricing before purchasing. You don’t need to go all out to get a quality headset.
Do I Need a Foot Pedal?
This is an unpopular opinion but I’m sharing it anyway. You do not always need a foot pedal when starting out. Please, don’t attack me in the comments.
My original transcription job used Express Scribe software. This particular software can be exclusively controlled with hot keys. For example:
- F7 = Rewind
- F8 = Fast Forward
- F4 = Stop
- F9 = Play
There are dozens of other hot keys but these are common keyboard controls. I got really good at using them and didn’t need a foot pedal. Eventually, I broke down and bought one. But I still only used it on occasion like when my hands were tired or for particularly long audio files.
Important Foot Pedal Information
Do not purchase a foot pedal for work from home transcription until you read this. The only foot pedal compatible with the free version of Express Scribe is:
AltoEdge USB Transcription Foot Pedal
This particular foot pedal will set you back roughly $100 on Amazon.
Other Foot Pedal Options
With the paid version of Express Scribe you have more options. However, there are package deals that include Express Scribe Pro, foot pedal, and headset. This entire bundle is just about $120.
You know you’re getting all the right transcription tools with the bundle. The initial investment is larger but it provides a professional setup from the start.
Computer or Chromebook?
You need a personal computer to run Express Scribe. Either a Mac or Windows one will do. Yes, you can use a laptop! Unfortunately, a Chromebook just doesn’t cut it.
Your computer or laptop must meet one of these system requirements:
- Windows 11, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10
- 64 Bit Windows
- Mac OS X 10.5 or above
Fortunately, computers are more affordable today, especially Windows laptops. A basic HP laptop with Windows 10 will cost around $250.00.
The word processing program you use depends on a lot of factors. You can type directly in Express Scribe or choose an outside program. Keep in mind, Express Scribe will only work with Word, Corel Wordperfect, Lotus Wordpro, or any Windows word processor.
However, most work from home transcription jobs are contract. The company you contract with may require a specific program.
What Transcription Jobs are Out There?
Too many to name! Seriously, there are a lot of different typist opportunities. But let’s take a further look at the three main ones:
- General Transcriptions
- Medical Transcription
- Legal Transcription
General Transcription Jobs
Most beginner opportunities will fall under general transcription which consists of market research, lectures, seminars, and utterances (to name a few).
Typically, you do not need special training for general transcription work. However, you will still benefit from general transcription training as a newbie. Transcription coursework boosts your chances of landing a better entry level gig. Unfortunately, some transcription companies pay extremely low rates. A little training under your belt sets you up for better paying transcription jobs.
Start with the free general transcription mini course below.
Medical Scribe Jobs
To be a medical transcriptionist you need training. A medical scribe must know about anatomy and be familiar with common healthcare lingo. Today, scribes must also learn transcript editing.
According to TechXplore, many doctors use speech-to-text software to dictate notes for patients’ charts.
In fact, Amazon has its own speech-to-text software called Amazon Transcribe Medical.
But this software isn’t perfect (yet). Trained professionals still proofread and polish software transcripts for accuracy before becoming part of a patient’s medical records.
That’s why it’s important to choose a certification program that teaches both medical transcription and transcript editing. I recommend Career Step.
CareerStep is flexible and affordable. You can train online at your convenience. Learn how you can complete training in as little as two months by visiting the CareerStep Information Page. Just fill out the form to learn all about the program. You might find another program that interests you too!
You can receive a $300 discount on healthcare programs on CareerStep by using this link and letting them know Ashlee Anderson sent you!
Legal Transcription Jobs
Legal transcription jobs require training because of all the legalese. That’s a fancy word for lawyer jargon. But seriously, legal scribes watch or listen to recorded depositions and accurately type what is being said. These transcripts become legal records and are an important part of a case. You need to know and understand terminology to do this accurately.
Legal transcription also requires a high degree of confidentiality and precision. Training prepares you for all these factors. It also shows clients you are already familiar with legal transcription and can get the job done!
Don’t just jump into legal transcription training just yet. First, learn the basics to see if transcription is actually right for you.
What Else Should I Know About Work from Home Transcription Jobs for Beginners?
Every transcription company will have a different turnaround time or TAT as they are commonly referred to. The turnaround time could be 24 hours, a week, or anywhere in between. If you are unable to complete a job within the specified TAT, do not accept it!
Meeting or exceeding deadlines is important. The company you type for is promising their clients that they will have a completed transcript within a certain window–it’s your job to make sure you can deliver it on time, every time. If not, you’ll likely find that your services will be terminated.
Fortunately, most scribes are independent contractors or freelancers. This gives you total control over your schedule. You can work at 2:00 a.m. if you want. But always keep deadlines in mind.
An audio hour and an actual hour are two very different things. You will come across work from home transcription jobs that advertise pay rates of $15.00 per audio hour.
As a beginner, you’ll think, “Wow, $15.00 an hour is a pretty good rate of pay with no experience!” And, you’d be correct, if it was actually $15.00 an hour, but it’s not. An audio hour is an hour of recorded audio.
Keep in mind, one hour of recorded audio or video will take you about four hours to transcribe. This four hours includes typing the transcript and proofreading and editing your work.
You will improve your time as you gain more experience. Experienced scribes can finish an hour of audio is three hours or less – a big difference!
Now the $15.00 audio hour pay rate doesn’t sound appealing. It ends up being about $3.75 per hour. Even completing the job in three hours would still only be five bucks an hour.
Many new scribes confuse audio hour rates with actual hours. Do not accept work that pays well below minimum wage. Your services are worth more than that.
So what is a fair pay rate?
So, you ask, “What is a fair rate of pay?” Depending to whom you pose this question, you’ll get a variety of answers.
A fair rate of pay is whatever amount you’re willing to work for. Always gauge what you’ll make an hour on a project or assignment (based on the the three to four hours per audio hour rule) and decide whether it’s an amount you’re okay with. If it is great! Start typing. If it’s not, don’t accept it.
Some projects or assignments base pay by the word, character, line, or even page. Often, you will encounter these types of pay as you gain experience and work in a particular niche.
For example, I was paid per page when doing insurance transcription work. As a legal typist, I was paid per every 65-character line.
When pay is broken down like this, it’s difficult to determine your hourly pay rate. As a beginner, you won’t know what an average page count or character count is per audio hour.
However, you can come up with a very rough estimate.
An average minute of audio contains approximately 140 words.
Let’s say you come across work from home transcription jobs that advertise a rate of $0.005 per word. You could estimate your likely earnings this way:
60 minutes of audio x 140 words x .005 = $42.00.
Remember, this is $42.00 per audio hour.
So, if it takes you four hours, you would make $10.50 per hour. If it takes you three hours, your hour rate increases to $14.00.
Work from Home Self Employment
Nine times of out ten, transcription jobs will hold independent contractor (IC) status. As a contractor you are self-employed. Wondering how to be self employed from home? You’re not alone.
Self Employment Facts
You can easily be overwhelmed by the idea of self employment. However, it’s not as scary as you think. Here are quick facts to know about self-employment from home:
- Your client/company will not take out taxes from your pay.
- You are responsible to pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS.
- You are not an employee and are not entitled to employer benefits.
- Work from home transcription is a service. You bill your clients for these services.
- You might receive a 1099-NEC if you contract with a company and earn more than $600 in a year.
Don’t panic. Nobody likes to talk about taxes and the IRS. But, as long as you pay quarterly estimated taxes you’ll be fine!
Running a Work from Home Transcription Business
I recommend using QuickBooks Self-Employed. It keeps track of money coming in and your business expenses. Remember, you are a business of one as a self-employed scribe.
Plus, QuickBooks takes the guesswork out of taxes. It reminds you when it is time to pay quarterly estimated taxes and how much you should pay. And, at the end of the year, QuickBooks pairs with TurboTax so you can easily e-file.
See? Not so scary after all.
When in doubt, default to the IRS. They provide a lot of helpful resources specifically for the self-employed.
Find Work from Home Transcription Jobs
You’ve made it this far now you’re ready to get to work. So, where can you find transcription jobs right now?
There are companies that contract with transcriptionists. Keep in mind, the pay rate is often low. However, it is an option to practice transcription and gain experience. Eventually, you can branch out and find your own clients. Remember, it’s up to you to decide if a job is worth it or not.
I have a list of transcription jobs online for beginners. Feel free to browse through the companies listed. Always visit their website to see if they’re accepting applications and how much they pay. Get in the mindset that these companies are great starting points, but should not be long term. You and your services are valuable.
Train to Become a General Transcriptionist
If you want to become a medical transcriptionist or a legal transcriptionist, remember you need training. Good transcription courses teach you the ins and out of typing and how to run your business.
There are plenty of work from home transcription jobs out there. It’s up to you to find the right fit.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my bet to answer them.
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