How to Become a Transcriptionist With No Experience (Detailed Guide)

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This post will teach you how to become a transcriptionist with no experience.

Whether you have prior experience or not, I will walk you through everything step by step so you won’t feel lost.

It will start with all of the introductory sections, where you will learn everything there is to know about being a transcriptionist.

Then there will be a brief discussion of important equipment and tools, necessary skills, transcription training, some practice tests, preparing your resume, and finally applying for transcription jobs.

Overall, you’ll learn a lot about transcription and be able to make your first dollar with this profession.

So, if you’re interested, let’s get started with the introduction.

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Step 1: Learn Everything There Is to Know About Being a Transcriptionist

Who is a Transcriptionist?

Transcriptionists are trained professionals whose job is to listen to recorded audio and then type the conversation into a word document. In short, they convert audio into text by typing.

Because transcribed documents are mostly digital these days, most transcriptionists can WORK REMOTELY.  So, whether you’re at home or on the road, you can work from anywhere and get paid.

What Are The Different Types of Transcriptionists?

Transcriptionists work in a variety of fields, but the three most common are:

  • Medical Transcriptionists – They transcribe voice reports dictated by physicians and other healthcare professionals into written reports. They may also be responsible for editing medical documents, interpreting medical abbreviations and terminology, and preparing discharge summaries.
  • Legal Transcriptionists –  They transcribe important legal recordings into written reports. It includes court hearings, depositions, or any type of recording related to the law.
  • General Transcriptionists – Unlike medical and legal transcriptionists, they do not specialize in a specific field. They convert a wide range of audio recordings, including interviews, simple dictations, lectures, video webinars, and podcasts. Beginners start their careers as general transcriptionists.

The Benefits of Becoming a Transcriptionist

The following are a few reasons why you should consider becoming a transcriptionist.

  • Work from anywhere: It gives you the freedom to live and work wherever you want, whether that’s in the heart of a major city or while traveling.
  • Flexible schedule: You have the freedom to choose when and how many hours you want to work.Working as a transcriptionist allows you to avoid the monotony of a 9-to-5 schedule. As long as you stick to your schedule and stick to your deadlines, you can make the most of your time with your family and other priorities.
  • Requires minimum investment: Unlike other jobs that may require you to spend a lot of money on equipment and accessories, being a transcriptionist requires very little. Most of the time, you don’t even need to spend any money because you can get started with just a computer and headphones. However, as your career progresses, investing in a few softwares is a wise decision.
  • Control your earning potential: Starting an online transcription business gives you the power to control your income. You can work as much or as little as you want, depending on your financial needs.

Drawbacks of Becoming a Transcriptionist

We’ve seen the positive aspects, but it’s also important to be aware of the negative aspects. Here are some drawbacks of working as a transcriptionist.

  • AI problem: AI may replace some workers. However, the human touch is still required.
  • Less earning potential: It’s unlikely that you’ll make a lot of money with this job. However, if you land a good client or begin working for a big company, you will be able to earn more money. Nonetheless, it is a great job to earn extra money on the side.
  • Ocassionally limited work opportunities: Job shortages can occur at specific times of the year. As a result, you must be prepared for these kinds of situations.

How Much Can You Make As a Transcriptionist?

Realistically, your earnings will be determined by the following factors:

  • Typing Speed: The faster you type, the more jobs you can transcribe and thus earn more money. As a result, if you type slowly, it can have an impact on your monthly income. 
  • Audio Quality: If the majority of the audio files have background noises such as hiss and hymn sounds, multiple speakers, or heavy accents, you will need to spend more time transcribing them. As a result, your productivity will suffer, and you will earn less money by transcribing fewer jobs.
  • Rate Per Audio File: If you work for a private client or a big company, you can expect to be paid well. However, if you work with an online transcription service, the rates will be lower.

So, if a transcriptionist earns x amount per month, it may not be the same for you because of the above factor.

Still, if you need an estimate, a beginner transcriptionist with no experience can earn anywhere from $3 to $11 per hour. Experienced transcriptionists can earn $7 to $20 or more per hour.

According to Ziprecruiter.com, a transcriptionist’s yearly salary is around $58,441, and their hourly wage is $28/hour. These are estimates for the United States, and they are highly dependent on which client you are working with.

Transcriptionist earning by Ziprecruiter.com

Step #2: Get The Required Equipments

You can’t work as a transcriptionist unless you have this equipment.

1. A PC/Laptop

You can use any PC or laptop with a Windows or Mac operating system. However, make sure that it is not TOO OLD.

2. Headphones or Headset

To accurately transcribe what is being said, good listening skills are a must. However, transcription becomes difficult when the audio voice is low or filled with background noises.

In this case, a good pair of headphones can help you.

If you work or live in a noisy environment, you should definitely invest in noise-canceling headphones with lightweight ear cushions. 

It not only relaxes your ears but also reduces distracting noise, allowing you to work for extended periods of time.

However, if you already have a standard headset, you can use it as well.

3. Foot Pedal

The Foot Pedal eliminates the need to use your hand to play, pause, and rewind audio and video files.

You may be wondering why this is a problem.

Well, when a transcriptionist transcribes audio, they must switch from playing/pausing to typing with their hands. This activity wastes their time and frequently causes them discomfort.

With a foot pedal, your foot controls all of the playing and pausing activity, leaving your hands free for typing only. As a result, you will be able to complete your work much more quickly.

Foot pedals aren’t necessary for beginners, but as your experience and workload grow, you should definitely have them.

4. Fast Internet Access

Even though it is not a piece of equipment, it is still recommended. You will need a strong internet connection because you will be downloading audio files for transcription. I recommend that you have at least a 10 Mbps download speed.

Step #3: Get The Required Transcription Tools

There are many productivity-enhancing tools available for almost any job.

The same goes for transcription, where a variety of tools are available to help you.

1. Grammarly or Pro-Writing Aid (Free or Premium)

Grammarly or Pro-Writing Aid are tools that detect grammatical, spelling, and typo errors in a written document in real-time.

You can use them while transcribing files to ensure an error-free transcript, which will make it look more professional.

Both tools provide FREE PLANS. As a beginner, it is enough to get started.

2. Google Docs (free)

You can use their built-in speech-to-text feature to dictate the transcription into the document, and it will be transcribed automatically.

3. Express Scribe (free)

The Express Scribe is a transcription tool or audio player created specifically for transcription work.

It includes a feature that uses the keyboard hotkeys to control basic functions such as play, pause, stop, and rewind. As a result, you can complete your transcription work quickly.

Although it provides both free and paid plans, the free plan is sufficient for beginners.

It includes:

  • home and small business license permits.
  • Foot pedal support (only AltoEdge foot pedal).
  • DCT dictation.
  • It is able to play all major file formats.

On the other hand, the paid version supports more formats.

4. Audio Enhancement Software (Free)

You will receive audio files with excessive background noise or with low volume. In such cases, you can improve the quality by using an audio enhancer tool such as Audacity.

This tool can eliminate background noise and improve its quality. You can also slow down the audio to better understand it.

On top of that, it is completely free to download.

5. Audio Converter (Free)

You may encounter issues playing certain audio files because of the format. In such cases, use an audio converter like Freemake Audio Converter to convert them to your desired format.

This program can convert audio files to more than 50 different formats.

6. Text Expander

Text expanders let you type a short character sequence in place of words, phrases, and sentences.

Depending on your settings, these character sequences will be automatically expanded into full words, phrases, or even sentences. 

Using this tool, you can BOOST your typing speed by up to 30%, allowing you to earn more money.

Here are a few text expanders to get you started.

7. OTranscribe (free)

OTranscribe is a web-based transcription tool that allows you to control both the audio player and the text editor in one window. Thus, it eliminates the need to switch between tabs. 

It also has shortcut keys for adding current timestamps, which makes your job easier.

8. Otter.ai (free or premium)

Otter.ai is an artificial intelligence-powered transcription tool that generates transcriptions for meetings, interviews, lectures, and other important voice conversations. In short, it ELIMINATES manual transcription work.

Their free basic plan has a monthly transcription limit of 600 minutes. While the two paid plans offer more features and limits.

9. Amberscript (premium)

Amberscript is a similar tool to Otter that saves your time and effort by automatically converting audio or video to text. It also includes an easy-to-use text editor that allows you to further edit the text to improve its quality.

Please note that you don’t have to use all of the tools listed here. As a beginner, choose only the free ones.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it and advanced in your transcription career, investing in the above-listed tools is a smart choice.

Step 4: Learn the Skills Required To Become a Transcriptionist.

Now that you know what a transcriptionist does, what the pros and cons are and all the technical requirements and tools, it’s time to learn what qualifications and skills are required to become a transcriptionist.

The following are some of the qualities that clients look for when hiring a transcriptionist.

1. Good Typing Speed

Understandably, clients expect their projects to be completed on time. So they prefer transcriptionists with a minimum typing speed of 60+ words per minute.

So, the first thing you should check is your typing speed. To do so, go here and begin your test.

If it’s 60 words per minute or higher, proceed to the next step. If it isn’t, you should work on it.

That’s because

  • If you’re a slow typer, you won’t be able to finish jobs on time, which may cause clients to look for another transcriptionist.
  • Another major disadvantage is that you will only be able to transcribe a few files, LIMITING your earning potential.

To avoid such situations, you can watch this video, which is packed with useful tips and information to improve your typing speed.

2. Knowledge of Grammar, Punctuation, And Spelling

Grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills are essential for a transcriptionist to produce clean transcripts that do not alter the meaning of the original thoughts of the dialogues. 

In spite of the availability of digital tools that can quickly identify and correct errors like these, a solid knowledge base is still required to avoid making the most basic but most embarrassing errors.

As a result, it’s critical that you understand all of the grammatical rules and how to proofread.

Here are a few pointers to help you out:

  • Start reading a book, a newspaper, or even articles from editorials. The more you read, the more familiar you’ll become with grammar and punctuation.
  • Get a handy grammar manual to refer to when typing.
  • Start practicing your English with this fantastic resource.
  • Enroll in this free email course to learn more about proofreading.

3. Attentive Listening Skills

You’ll have to deal with audio that features a low voice, ambient noise, and a variety of accents. That is why excellent listening skills are required so that you can transcribe difficult audio files with ease.

I recommend wearing headphones and using an audio enhancer tool to improve the audio quality.

4. Multitasking Skill

Multitasking skills assist in managing multiple aspects of the job at the same time, such as listening to files, understanding the speaker’s meaning, and typing information.

It improves productivity as well as the speed with which you type out the transcription.

Here are a few pointers to help you out.

  • Avoid distractions.
  • Group similar tasks.
  • Monitor your progress.
  • Tasks should be organized and prioritized.

5. Good Research Skill

Transcriptionists require a high level of research expertise. 

That’s because often they receive new audios covering a wide range of subjects with new terms or terminologies, names, acronyms, companies, establishments, or brands they’re unfamiliar with.

In such a case, outstanding research skills are a must-have for transcriptionists. 

6. Time Management Skill

Having excellent time management skills ensures that you will be able to finish all of your work on time, i.e., before the deadlines. 

It helps in day-to-day planning and understanding which transcription jobs require the most attention.

To build this skill, ensure you follow these tips.

  • Overcome procrastination.
  • Plan your day and set your hours.
  • Make sure your workspace is distinct from your bedroom. This will assist your brain in associating your home office with work, increasing your productivity.
  • Take breaks in between.
  • Always reward yourself after completing your task to stay motivated. It can be eating your favorite snack or drink, or even going for a brisk walk.

7. Technology Proficiency Skill

No advanced computer skills are required to work as a transcriptionist. However, to excel in this job, you must be able to work with word processing software and transcription tools.

Step #5: Understand The Difference Between Verbatim & Non-Verbatim Transcription

When working with clients or companies, it is likely that you will be asked to perform either verbatim or non-verbatim transcriptions.

As a result, if you don’t know what they are, it can be a problem.

So, to clear the air, here is their simple definition.

  • Verbatim Transcription: It is when you transcribe exactly what you hear, including filler words, stutters, interjections (active listening), repetitions, non-speech sounds, false starts, intentional words spoken, etc.
  • Non-Verbatim Transcription: It is exactly the opposite of verbatim where you exclude all the filler words, stutters, interjections (active listening), repetitions, etc without changing the structure or meaning of the speech. 

If you don’t know what filler, stutter, or interjection words are, here’s a screenshot from the Rev style guide to help you understand.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Verbatim-vs-Non-verbatim.png
Screenshot from Rev Style Guide

Step #6: Transcription Training and Certifications

If you’re new to this field and providing general transcription services, you don’t need any college degree or certification.

However, if you’re pursuing a career as a medical or legal transcriptionist, you will need advanced training.

1. Medical Transcriptionist

For medical transcriptionists, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) provides two industry certifications: 

For legal transcriptionists, the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers provides national certification as a Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET).

You can also enroll in Transcribe Anywhere’s Legal Transcription: Theory & Practice course to learn how to work from home as a legal transcriptionist.

3. General Transcriptionist

Though general transcriptionists are not required to be certified, you can still enroll in a course to hone your skills and potentially advance to higher-paying jobs.

One such course is Transcribe Anywhere’s General Transcription: Theory & Practice, which teaches not only how to transcribe but also how to BUILD & MARKET your own transcription business.

Fortunately, they provide a free mini course that teaches you SEVEN SECRET IMPORTANT LESSONS for starting and running your transcription business.

You can sign up for it by clicking the button below.

Free General Transcription Mini Course

Seven-Lesson Mini Course to Jumpstart Your Transcription Career!

Steps #7: Practice, Practice & Practice

In order to truly master a profession, you need to put what you’ve learned into practice. 

This means transcribing a large number of practice audio files will help you feel confident when transcribing for clients and companies.

But where do you find them?

Don’t worry! I will help you with that.

1. GoTranscript Practice Test

After you’ve read their transcription guidelines, go to their practice page and start transcribing the files by clicking here.

When you’re finished, you’ll be able to see all of your errors.

Please note that you need to transcribe the files in clean verbatim without timestamping.

2. TCI Transcription Practice Test

To take their practice test, you must first register with their website. 

Then you can access their practice test pages, two of which are free, while the rest are available at a fee of $1.99 per file.

Before transcribing them, make sure to read the sample style guide to understand the format.

You can click here to get started.

3. Express Scribe Practice Test 

If you want to take practice tests in the medical and legal fields, you can find them on this website.

All you need to do is: 

  • Download their free software.
  • Download some of their practice audio files.
  • Load them onto the software.
  • Play them and start trancribing.

You can visit their page by clicking here.

When you’ve had enough practice, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step #8: Prepare Your Resume

Make sure to update your resume after completing training and earning a certification.

Even if you do not intend to pursue training, it is a good idea to prepare a resume that highlights your skills relevant to the transcriptionist role, like fast typing, research skills, etc.

Step #9: Apply to Transcription Jobs

Once you have all of the necessary equipment, tools, and skills, it is time to apply for legit transcription jobs.

As a beginner, it’s best to join companies that accept transcriptionists with no experience. 

Working with these companies will provide you with experience and allow you to get a sense of what it’s like to work as a transcriptionist.

Online Transcription Jobs For Beginners

Before applying to any of the companies listed below, you must first read their style guide.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a style guide is a document that outlines specific formatting requirements.

It provides guidelines for transcribers and QAs to follow so that they can more easily produce professional transcription documents that meet the needs of the company’s clients.

So, without further ado, here are some companies.

1. Rev Transcription

  • Joining process: You’ll need to complete a short exercise to put your grammar skills to the test. Then you must transcribe a short audio clip as well. If you pass these tests, you’ll be able to start working as a transcriptionist within 48 hours.
  • Style guide: Read their guidelines here.
  • Test difficulty: Hard
  • Pay rate: $0.40-$1/audio min
  • Payment method: PayPal
  • Apply – Click here

2. Scribie

  • Joining process: You must apply for the position on their website. Then, choose one of the given files to transcribe. If your test file is approved for review, you will be certified as a transcriber and paid for the file.
  • Style guide: Read their guidelines here.
  • Test difficulty: Average
  • Pay Rate: $0.16-$0.17/audio min
  • Payment Method: PayPal
  • Apply: Click here

3. GoTranscript

  • Joining process: Submit the application and take their quiz. The quiz test consists of ten multiple-choice questions. To move on to the next test (transcription test), you must answer them all correctly. After you finish both the test successfully, you can start working with them.
  • Style Guide: Read their guidelines here.
  • Test Difficulty: Average
  • Pay Rate: Up to $0.60/audio min
  • Payment Method: PayPal & Payoneer
  • Apply: Click here

4. TranscribeMe

  • Joining process: After signing up, you must pass a multiple-choice question exam based on their style guide and English basics. Then, before working with them, you must also transcribe two audio files.
  • Style guide: Read their guidelines here.
  • Test difficulty: Hard
  • Pay rate: $0.25-$0.36/audio min
  • Payment method: PayPal
  • Apply: Click here

5. Daily Transcription

  • Joining process: To apply, you need to be a resident of the US and Canada. Submit the career form. Then, pass a skills assessment test to receive training videos, procedure documents, style guides, and practice jobs.
  • Style guide: You’ll receive it after joining.
  • Test difficulty: Average
  • Pay rate: $0.75-$0.85/audio min
  • Payment method: Check
  • Apply: Click here

Final Conclusion:

So, if you follow these nine steps, you will undoubtedly be able to begin your career as a transcriptionist.

I understand that entering the transcription profession can be intimidating at first, but as you transcribe more and more files, you will get the hang of it.

In addition, if you’re having difficulty getting into the transcription profession, the recommended courses will help you improve your skills even more.

That’s all! If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below.

F.A.Q

Q1. Do you need the experience to transcribe?

You don’t need any previous experience, but you can always invest in certifications to give yourself an advantage. With these credentials, you’ll be able to compete for better-paying jobs down the road.

Q2. Do you need a certificate to be a transcriptionist?

A certificate is not required if you want to be a general transcriptionist. However, to get good opportunities as a legal or medical transcriptionist, you must be certified.

Q3. How long does it take to transcribe 1 hour of audio?

It will differ from person to person due to a variety of factors such as typing speed, audio quality, number of speakers, and so on. According to industry standards, it will take approximately four hours to transcribe one hour of audio.

Q4. Can you use a foot pedal with a laptop?

Yes, with the help of a USB foot pedal.

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