How to Become a Transcriptionist

How to Become a Transcriptionist

Last Updated on February 9, 2021 by Ludiah

For How to Become a Transcriptionist
Writers & Spire Solution

If you wish to become a transcriptionist, then you must be wondering how to get started. Transcription may sound strange and difficult at first, but on the contrary, it can be easy and enjoyable. Besides providing a decent income to transcriptionists the job needs low investment upfront which makes it easy to start. But where do you begin? In case you are looking for a guide on how to become a transcriptionist, you have just landed on one.

Be sure to read this step – by – step description of how to become a transcriptionist to the end. It could be the exact guide you need to start you off in this exciting field of transcription.

How to Become a Transcriptionist

Before we delve deeper into the topic on How to Become a Transcriptionist, we need to understand what transcription is.  Further, we shall explore the divisions of transcription that exist in order to aid decision making to anyone wishing to try this job.

What is transcription?

 Transcription can be defined as a representation of an audio file in a typed form. A transcriptionist also known as a transcriber is the person that converts audio files into written files by typing. Transcription  is commonly subdivided into three wide categories namely;

  • Medical transcription
  • Legal transcription
  • General transcription

Medical transcription has been here for a long time and has a high demand. It involves transcription of medical content  files like medical reports and scientific findings among others. The medical transcription involves use of technical terms and structures which have to be mastered. Training is therefore an important investment to make before getting into medical transcription.

Legal transcription on the other hand involves transcription of content that is related to the law and legal jargon. This field has plenty of jobs and can help one to earn faster and better at low cost investment.

General transcription, just like its name, involves handling audio files from a wide range of sources. They can be academic, sports, health, business family among others.

It is advisable that a beginner starts with general transcription, but as he or she gets more experienced, they should niche down. Niching down is important because it makes one more qualified and especially if you want to work on the highest paying transcription jobs.

Before we get started you need make important decisions

Do you really want to do this job?

Transcription costs less to start; it is flexible in terms of the choice of place and time of working. It also gives you freedom because you don’t have to work under a boss all the time. Additionally, successful freelance transcriptionists make a lot of money online. Usually up to $5000 a month.

However not everyone is suited to do this job, it requires strong skills in editing and grammar and research without forgetting typing.  It also needs patience and devotion before one can make good money out of it. Before getting into the real business, you need to be sure that you really want to be a transcriptionist. This will go a long way to help you become one of the best transcriptionists who make a lot of money every month.

What is your field of interest in transcription?

You need to decide the field of transcription you want to join, whether it is legal, medical or general. Note that this will determine the tools and skills that you will need for the job. It is better to start with

Who do you wish to work for?

As a transcriptionist, you can choose to work for a transcription company or work for private clients. When you work as a company’s contractor, the company acts as a broker, they negotiate the charges with the client and decide what to pay you. The good thing about working with a company is that, you don’t have to struggle looking for clients, rather, you concentrate on your gigs.

Secondly, working with a company gives you the freedom to choose when to work and when not to. The major downside of this arrangement is that it makes you feel like you have a boss that is monitoring you. This makes your freedom limited.

On the other hand, if you source for private clients, things are a bit different. You determine your charges, the gigs to take and the ones to decline. This kind of freedom makes your work easier, for example you can choose to transcribe only good quality audios after testing them. On the flipside, you may take too much time marketing for clients that your working time is reduced and your performance lowered.

For a beginner, it is good to work with companies first so that you can sharpen your skills and get used to the business. While working with the companies, you can concurrently look for some private clients since you are allowed to do that. As time goes on you can build up your client base. Slowly shed off, or retain as back up, the low paying companies and clients until you are left with the high paying ones.

 How to become a transcriptionist: A step by step guide

After making the important decisions above, now you need to get into the actual process of becoming a transcriber. Below are the steps you can follow to become, not only a sought for transcriptionist, but also a highly paid one.

Step .001 prepare yourself

 Upscale your skills

Make sure that you have very well brushed skills to carry out transcription. These include listening skills, typing speed, use of the necessary software, research and excellent grammar among others. In a case where any of the skills is wanting, do not worry. There are several sites online, most of which are free, that you can use for practice to perfect your skills. These sites include; which helps people to increase their typing speed and which is useful in polishing grammar.

Get trained

For How to Become a Transcriptionist

Most of the transcription companies need a transcriptionist to have training before they hire him or her. This is common especially in medical transcription and in some cases in the legal field. In most cases, it requires a certificate or diploma for your career. It’s important because in this field they follow some norms that are irrelevant to transcription in general. For example, when transcribing medical reports, you have to use specific templates and in some cases, you will be required to add subheadings accordingly even if they have not been dictated by the physician in question.

You need to get training on typing or grammar. This will go a long way to prepare you well to pass the aptitudes tests. As much as it is possible to start transcribing without much experience, you need to get some training. Depending on what category of transcription you wish to join, the type of training required varies. You can self-train following online paid courses to meet the relevant qualification.

There are many online courses that offer transcription and they show you how to become a transcriptionist and make up to $3000/month. This one here will equip you with all you need to be the best.

Familiarize with every transcription site or company’s requirements

Research on transcription sites that pay well. There is a lot of information online about a number of them. You may not study all of them but, at least, get familiar with the most respected ones. Find out their requirements and their transcription style guidelines. This varies from one transcription site to the other so be keen on what guidelines apply for which transcription company. This will help you to avoid getting confused. If you do this, you are better placed to pass the aptitude tests that will determine if you will get the job or not.

Step .002 prepare your tools     

A Quiet room

This is our second step on how to become a transcriptionist from home. You need a quiet room in which you will carry out your tasks. Noise and other distractions are detrimental to your career as a transcriptionist. You should be able to hear the audio or video well, or you will lose speed.

 A new computer

The computer you intend to use should be new, with good speed and the latest windows installed. Speed is of essence for any transcriptionist because the faster you transcribe, the more you are paid. Yet an old computer may be slow or may hang from time to time. This may stress you out and slow you down a lot when transcribing. You can learn more about best laptops here.

Transcription software

A transcription software is a unique audio player which makes transcription easier and efficient. Some transcription software have useful features like audio cleanup which you can use to make your transcription efficient.

You need to get the correct software needed for the company that you intend to work for. Some transcription companies have developed their own software that they use. Some of them use popular software. In either case, you need to install a software that is purposely made for transcription.

 If you can’t afford to buy the relevant software, you may opt to use the limited free version that comes with most software first before upgrading. However, the free version will limit you in different ways, like the length and formats of the files you can work on.


You need an affordable pair of headphones that will allow you to hear the audio clearly and still be comfortable on you. This will help you reduce the number of times you use the unclear tags.  Don’t forget you might need the headphones on for several hours at a time and as such, you can’t compromise on the comfort. Usually over the head headphones are a better choice compared to the earplugs.

Must read: This Transcription headphones will give you clear audio

Foot pedal

This is an important tool for every transcriptionist. It helps you to start, stop, restart, replay fast forward and even rewind the audio without engaging your fingers. This way you can easily type without having to mess with the controls of your audio playback and thus save time and keep yourself sane.

Step.003 Find work

Now that you are ready to start working the next step is to search for gigs online. As a beginner, searching for gigs may be a little challenging because the employers don’t know you yet or you may not be conversant with where to look. The fastest way to get gigs is by applying to work with transcription agencies or companies. To find these agencies that may offer you work you can try searching them in the following routes;

 Fiverr, Upwork and other freelance sites

Fivver and Upwork are examples of sites that help to bring together freelancers and clients. To get a gig, you first need to sign up. The clients will post the jobs with their pay rates and freelancers compete through bidding to land on the jobs. you will need to send your bid as soon as possible and your rates plus quality of work will help you get these jobs. A number of transcribers are already making good money on these sites.

 Through Google

If you search for transcription jobs on google, you are going to find a number of them. However, the competition may be too stiff for you since almost everyone else is searching google for the same jobs. To reduce the competition and increase your chances of landing on jobs, try specific keywords. The keywords can be, region specific or industry specific. For example, instead of searching “Transcription jobs,” you can try “Transcription jobs in Europe.” The keywords can be random, just make them specific to increase your chances of landing a gig by reducing competition.

Through LinkedIn        

LinkedIn is also a platform that you can utilize to get your clients because it has a lot of company data. Once you have an account at LinkedIn you can search jobs through three gateways;

 Doing a Job search

At the top of the page, click jobs link you will see a search bar, type the job you are searching for and in this case it can be “transcriptionist,”. You will be prompted to indicate the location where you want to search the job. You can indicate your location or type “remote” or “worldwide”. A number of jobs will come up.  Select the one that suits you and apply

 Conducting a company search

Instead of “job search” you may decide to do a “company search.” Follow these steps

Type the word “transcription” in the search bar that you will see at the top of the page. A magnifying glass will appear, click on “more”. You will see companies listed. Select a few companies from the list and apply. The companies may be many and not all of them are worth working for. For this reason, do some research on the companies before you choose to apply and work for them.

People search

Another alternative is doing a “people search.” Just like in the first two cases, go to the search bar and type the word “transcriptionist.”  At the magnifying glass select “people.” This will give you many options. Just filter the results. You can filter them by user profiles and read through them. From the transcribers’ profiles you will get information about companies and pay rates. With this information you will be able to choose the companies to send your application to.

Transcription and work from home forums

These work from home forums may also help one to land a transcription gig;

Transcription haven

Transcription haven is a private forum for transcribers. Their aim is to create a safe environment for all transcriptionists. Joining this forum can help in connecting clients to transcribers. This is because it embraces both experienced transcriptionists and beginners. This leads to members referring one another for jobs and employees.  Additionally, one can ask to be guided on the whole business of working at home as a transcriptionist.

Transcription essentials

This is a private community that looks out for the interests of transcriptionists. It ensures that transcription companies do not exploit their employees. This forum can help one get a job as a transcriptionist by offering leads to high paying jobs.

Must Read: 5 Transcription forums full of jobs

Remote work sites

These sites are also useful since they can offer leads to jobs you can do at home. Usually, they have data that is well screened about employers. Since the sites are well known, they are also trusted and have served many people well. An example of these sites is Flexjobs which has data on freelance and part-time jobs among others.

There are many more sites where you can search for jobs. You need to, apply, take the necessary tests and if you are successful do the job and get paid.  But this is not all there is. You have to improve yourself every day to earn better and establish yourself in the field.

 Step. 004 Improve your pay

After you have taken all the steps above, you will most likely get your first few jobs. At a beginner’s level, you are likely to make about $3 minimum and $11 maximum per hour. At this level you should not relax. Instead aim higher to earn more. The experienced transcriptionists can make a minimum of $7 an hour sometimes going beyond $20 an hour.  In order to achieve this, you have to do a number of things.  Including the following;

 Improve your typing speed

Remember the higher your typing speed, the more the tasks you are able to complete within a given period. Depending on the rates you are working at, your speed determines your pay at the end of the day. So up your speed. You can achieve this by taking a touch typing post.

Up your skills

Everyone has an area to improve on, find yours and work on it. Whether it is grammar, or punctuation skills you need to up them. Excellent skills make you stand out from other competitors, thus increasing your chances of getting higher paying jobs.

 Upgrade your tools

 You may have started out with whatever tools were available, However, in order to be paid better you have to perform better. Make use of upgraded tools that will give you easy time while working on your audios. A foot pedal, word expander software and quality headphones may be what you need to offer a performance worth [paying more.

Lobby for higher paying contracts

Keep job hunting even if you already have a job. If you are working for an agency, lobby for new private clients who will pay better. It’s not that hard to find the highest paying transcription jobs when you’re qualified. After achieving this, you can let go of the less paying jobs and concentrate on the higher-paying ones. Apart from the ones we’ve mentioned, a quick search on Google will give an additional list of transcription sites that pay well. You can also offer additional services like copy typing to get more and better paying deals.

 Be wary of scammers

As you plan to get started on transcription online, be careful with the people you deal with. Some may be scammers ready to take advantage of your innocence to exploit you. Before you enter into any deal with anyone note;

  • Do not pay fees to get a job. Legitimate employers pay their employees after working for them instead.
  • If the company you are working for does not pay its employers consistently and on time, run.
  • Do not pay any fees in to access any job listings
  • Any time you agree to work for a new client, let them pay a deposit upfront.


Transcription needs little investment upfront, one can start with the minimum tools and upgrade as they progress. To become a transcriptionist, you need many skills like listening, grammar, time management, typing among others. The basic tools for a transcriber include a new computer with Microsoft word, and a headphone.

Other tools like a foot pedal and some software help make the transcriptionist’s work easier. Transcription has been categorized into three; medical transcription, legal transcription and general transcription. Each field has its own unique requirements.

Transcription jobs are available in many sites like Upwork, LinkedIn and Google among others. To become successful in transcribing, you need a daily improvement on your skills, and active marketing. A transcriptionist can work for a transcription agency or search for private clients. However, be careful not to be exploited by online fraudsters.

The money earned by a transcriptionist is dictated by the agreed rates, the speed of the transcriptionist and the quality of the audio. With the necessary skills, tools and devotion, transcription is a very lucrative venture to try. That is how to become a transcriptionist working from home this year. Feel free to share your experience below.