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Everything You Need to Know To Make Money As A Transcriptionist

September 9, 2018 by

Are you considering becoming a transcriptionist? If you are, you are probably already sold on the idea of making money while staying home. You can create your own schedule, earn a living and have time to spend with your family.

Making money from home is awesome. And more people are doing it. That doesn’t mean they are doing it well. If you want to become a successful transcriptionist, there are some things you need to consider before you begin.

Transcriptionists have a difficult job. They need to be willing to invest time, money and research into their job. That being said, it can be very rewarding. So keep reading to find out how you can start your career as a transcriptionist.

What Is a Transcriptionist?

Before taking the leap, you need to understand what a transcriptionist actually does. Transcriptionists are skilled and dedicated people that work to turn audio or video into text. This can fall into different categories, including general, legal and medical work.

Most transcriptionists are detail-oriented, have a great grasp on English and grammar, and are able to sit still and type for long periods of time. If this doesn’t sound like you, you may need to find a different field of work. But if this sounds like something you can do, you may want to give it a try and earn a couple extra bucks.

The Requirements

Transcription work is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time, hard work and initial investment. To be fit for the job, one needs to be able to type quickly and accurately and have the patience to do repetitive work for extended periods of time.

You will also need to invest in some equipment in order to get better paying jobs. Obviously a working computer is necessary, but high-speed internet will also be important. Additionally, video and audio editing software is a must-have.

Most people will also need a quality headset and a foot pedal to manipulate audio. Headphones should be noise cancelling in order to cut out distractions. And the pedal comes in handy because it allows you to change audio settings while continuing to type with both hands.

And even with all this, most people cannot just jump into the field. Basic training is needed to begin to work for lower paying, general jobs. And most medical and legal jobs require extensive training and testing.

More on the Foot Pedal

Why on Earth is a foot pedal necessary?

I get it, I didn’t understand it at first either. But a foot pedal can make all the difference when you are trying to get work done quickly. The pedal can rewind, play, pause and change the playback speed of audio files. This can be done without having to use the mouse.

The time this can save makes a huge difference. The ability to efficiently type and manipulate audio can almost double the speed of work in some cases. This time saved can make all the difference when it comes to making money.

A good starting foot pedal is the Infinity USB Digital Foot Control. It is durable, fairly inexpensive, and easy to use. It can also be bundled with a headset if necessary. Though there are plenty of other pedals out there that work as well. I comes down to preference, so read some reviews and do some research to find the right fit for you.

Getting Started

But back to training and testing. These are some of the necessary first steps once you decide to become a transcriptionist. You can begin to work without training, but pay will be low and you will be severely limited.

If investing a lot into training is not feasible for you TranscribeAnywhere offers a free course on the basics. This will help you get a feel for the type of work you will be doing and give you the basic skills you will need.

More in depth training will be necessary for some jobs though. The legal and medical fields often require more complex work. This is due to the terminology used in these fields. Some of the best training courses include TranscribeAnywhere’s programs on legal work or Chelsea Flint’s comprehensive course.

Digging Deep

You will need to conduct extensive research in order to be sure you understand the job of a transcriptionist. I have already linked some training courses, but here are some things you need to know that may not be covered in the basics.  

Be sure you know how to use time stamping and time coding. Time coding matches the audio and the written transcript. This allows the reader to find and listen to a small part of the audio file if necessary. Time coded works can also be used to caption and subtitle works.

You need to understand different formatting types as well. Different companies or clients will want the transcript to be written in a certain way. You should be sure to read up on what they want in order to avoid the hassle of reformatting the entire document.

The format can often be found in a style guide. Companies will publish in-depth explanations of the format. They will often include a step-by-step setup with an example as well as a list of general rules.

Finding a Gig

After some training, you’ll want to get started making money. In order to book a job, you will probably need to take a test from the company. Listen and Write is a resource full of practice work.

Start looking for jobs on lower-paying sites. This way, if you do not do well on the test, you will not miss out on great gigs. Plus, these sites can help you learn what to expect in the future.

Here are the best sites for finding work:

  1. TranscribeMe– This is a good site for beginners, and they use Paypal. They start at around $20 per audio hour. You do have to take a test before you can start though.
  2. Rev– This is one of the more popular sites. The pay varies depending on the type of work. This site also requires you to take a test before you are given work.
  3. Scribie– This is very much a beginners site, and the pay is not great. But they are reliable with payments. They are a great place to get started.  
  4. Gotranscript– They hire people from all around the world. There test can be difficult, but you are able to retake it.
  5. Quicktate– This is a site that will hire beginners to work on shorter audio files. Once you have completed some work, they may promote you to their sister company, iDictate. There is a $20 fee for a background check that must be paid before you can begin working.

Of course, more is involved in finding better jobs. You’ll want to really market your skills. You may want to consider approaching companies that may need your services directly. It can also be beneficial to set up a website and use SEO tactics to really put yourself out there.

Getting Paid

Now getting to the main motivator. Payment. What your check looks like can vary based on numerous different factors. For example, freelancers typically make more money because they can decide which jobs to take. However, freelancers do not receive benefits that employees of transcribing companies would.

But let’s assume you are a freelancer. The first major factor determining pay would be the field you are working in. Medical and legal transcriptionists are able to charge more than general transcriptionists because they have special training and skills for these jobs.

But how do you actually measure what to charge? It largely depends on the preference of you and the company you are working for, but here are a couple of common methods.

  1. Per audio hour. This is the most common method. It is important to be aware that audio hours do not equal hours spent working. The time you spend working on a recording can be three times the actual recording. Keep this in mind when setting the rate. A good rate for a trained transcriptionist is around $40-$60.
  2. Per page. This is another method used to set rates. However, the amount of work that goes into a page can vary based on format, so be sure to keep the desired format of the client in mind when setting your rate.
  3. Per line. Similar to the last one, the amount of work put into a single line can vary based on numerous factors.

All of these are viable ways to set rates, but they all have downsides to keep in mind. Just be sure not to underprice your services to get more clients. No one wants to make a low check when they put forth their best work.  

Keep In Mind

Transcription work is not easy, and you may not make great money off-the-bat. You will need time to perfect your skills. And it can be hard to market them at first.

Not to mention, the work can be tedious. Poor audio, low volume, and heavy accents can make the job difficult and time-consuming.

However, if you are willing to put in the work, you will be able to hone your skills and become a great transcriptionist. So now you know where to start. Get going and start making money!  

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