How To Find Home Transcription Work (And How Much You’ll Make)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 10, 2020

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More and more people are turning to online jobs and remote employment as the pandemic continues. The demand for work at home jobs is only going up as employees decide to stay home for their health and employers realize that work can still be productive outside of an office.

One great position to look into for home based work is transcription. There’s lots of opportunities out there across fields, industries, professions, and skill levels, so there’s something for everyone.

The nice thing about transcription work is that it can be totally flexible and completely remote. While other jobs have the potential of returning to an office at some point in the future, transcription work was remote before the pandemic and will continue to be a work-from-home job.

In this article, we’ll explain what exactly a transcriptionist does, what their salaries look like, and where to find transcription jobs.

What is a transcriptor?

A transcriptor, or a transcriptionist, is someone who takes information from an audio or visual source and writes it down. As a profession, transcriptors can be responsible for copying and retyping any kind of data, from lectures and videos to written materials and signs.

Today, most transcriptionists work to move materials from an analog source, like a print book, to a digital source, like typing out an ebook. A lot of the time they also work on transcribing audio files into typed notes to make the audio files more accessible.

There are many types of transcriptionists and transcription work, like general transcriptionists, medical transcriptionists, and even real-time transcriptionists. This makes it a great opportunity for anyone who is a fast typist and has an interest or experience in specific fields. Any knowledge can be applied to many types of transcriptionist jobs.

Common general transcription jobs include captioning, data entry, audio transcription, and dictation. As you do more work, you can take on jobs like legal, medical, or financial transcription.

How much do transcriptionists make?

Like any freelance or home-based work, the rates for transcriptionist services vary. Most transcriptionists can make between $15 and $25 an hour when they’re just starting out and don’t have a specialization or expertise.

Some fields pay more for transcription services, like legal or medical companies. These can be more lucrative since they require more experience and training before you’re ready to be a legal transcriptionist, for the most part.

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Transcriptionist salaries also depend on how you’re finding work and how your pay schedule is set up. If you work as a freelance or self-employed transcriptionist, you have more freedom to set your rates or apply for gigs that offer the pay you’re looking for. The downside to this is that you might have to take the occasional job below your rate to make sure you’re gaining experience and keeping your work pipeline full.

If you’re part of a transcription company where they hire transcriptionists and assign work from larger clients, you might be stuck with a set rate. In this format you have less freedom to choose your work, but at least you know you’ll always have that steady flow of cash.

In both of these scenarios, you can be paid in an agreed upon lump sum for your work, hourly for your work, or by audio hour. Each of these pay schemes will impact how much money you can make as a transcriptionist.

When you’re paid a lump sum for your work, you’ll be guaranteed to get that amount of money for a project, which is a great way to help you budget. On the other hand, it can limit the money you make if it takes more time than you thought it would when setting the total amount to be paid.

For hourly rates, you get to decide how much your time is worth and get paid for each hour you work. This can be a great way to get started, but be aware that some companies won’t be willing to work with you if you have an above average hourly rate. As a beginner, you can start by charging around $10-$15 an hour until you gain more experience.

Lastly, audio hours are unique to transcription work. Audio hourly pay is like normal hourly pay, except you get paid by the length of the audio or video you’re transcribing. So, if you had to transcribe a 10 hour long conference and it took you 20 hours to do it, you would be paid for the 10 hour audio instead of the 20 hours of work.

Audio hourly pay rates do reflect this difference in time spent and time paid, so you’ll see numbers like $45 or $60 per audio hour, once you’re an experienced transcriptionist.

What educational requirements and experience are necessary to work as a transcriptor?

There isn’t much that you need to be a good transcriptionist. Most jobs only ask that you have a good understanding of the language that you’re transcribing in. This includes excellent listening skills, grammar, and fast typing.

The only educational requirement you’ll come across for a general transcriptionist is an employer asking for a high school diploma or GED, and in some cases a college degree. If you’re looking at specialized transcriptionist work, there may be more requirements. Financial transcriptionists may need extra accounting knowledge and medical transcriptionists usually have to complete a course specifically for medical transcription terms and procedures.

Other requirements for being a transcriptor are about the environment you work in. You’ll need a computer with high-speed internet access since that’s how you’ll receive projects and complete them. Some other useful things to have around are a good pair of headphones and a quiet space to work in.

Sometimes you’ll need specific equipment or software for a job, but the company you’re working with should either give that to you or help you get it. This could be access to the company’s online database or a specific software that the company uses.

What skills should a transcriptionist have?

Let’s take a look at some of the skills the most successful transcriptionists have.

  1. Listening skills. Transcription is all about taking what you hear and putting it on a page, so good listening skills are a must.

  2. Fast typing. In order to keep up with what you hear and save you time, you should be a fast typist without making a lot of mistakes as you go. Try taking a typing speed test and listing it on your resume to show off your skills.

  3. Written communication. You need to be able to take what you hear and type it out, and sometimes summarize it. If you’re a good writer, this might be a good and easy job for you to make money.

  4. Independent work ethic. Like any freelance or remote work, being able to work independently is a necessary skill. Since you’ll be working from your home without colleagues around, you’ll need to be independent and resourceful.

  5. Time management. Working on your own schedule is great, but only if you can keep up with your personal and professional lives. Make sure you’re setting aside appropriate amounts of time to dedicate to transcription work.

  6. Meeting deadlines. As an independent worker, you’ll need to stay on top of your deadlines and make sure every project is completed when it’s due. If you’re good at multitasking and juggling multiple projects at once, you should consider being a transcriptionist.

How flexible is a work-at-home transcription job?

Transcription work can be some of the most flexible opportunities to earn money out there. Since there’s a few different ways to approach it, you can find transcription opportunities that fit your life.

If you decide to work as a self-employed freelancer, you can set your hours and pick the projects you work on. You can decide when, where, and how much you’ll work when you create an agreement with the company. When you look for transcription work, you can decide which types of projects you’ll apply for and decide your work.

Another option is to work for a transcription company. If you choose this, you’d be employed by a company to transcribe projects as they come in from the company’s clients. A positive to this set up is that you’ll have work assigned to you more regularly, plus a standardized pay rate. However, you’ll probably have less of a say in what projects you take on, what your pay rate is, and how flexible your hours are.

Where to find transcriptionist jobs at home

Like we mentioned above, there’s a few ways to go about working as a transcriptionist. We’re going to give you a few ways to find transcription work for freelancers and agency transcriptionists. For freelancers, here’s some popular ways to find transcription work.

  • Job boards. A lot of the time companies will put out a job posting for a temporary employee or contractor to do transcription work for them. Keeping an eye on job boards, like ours, is a good way to find these opportunities.

  • Word of mouth. Do you know people who work in industries that commonly use transcriptionists? Try asking around and seeing if they know of any opportunities at their companies

  • Crowdsourcing platforms. Sometimes crowdsourcing platforms will have opportunities to pick up small projects and get paid. One of the most common projects on those sites is data entry and transcription. Take a look around and you’re sure to find a project you can complete in an hour or two.

If you’re looking to join a transcription agency, here’s some of the places you can look for openings.

  • Transcribe Anywhere. This is the perfect place to start if you’re new to transcription. The company offers classes and training as well as work opportunities.

  • TranscribeMe. Another great option for beginners, TranscribeMe requires its transcriptionists to pass a transcription training before getting started.

  • Babble. Also great for entry-level work, this company doesn’t have any requirements but puts employees through a training course.

  • Castingwords. You’ll find flexible work schedules and no requirements to get started at this place.

  • 3 Play Media. This company offers project-based pay rates for both English and Spanish transcription services.

  • American High Tech Transcription and Reporting. Just like the name says, you can do transcription work for some big companies when you work with this company.

  • Cambridge Transcriptions. If you have some experience and want to work in financial or corporate transcription, this is the place for you.

  • CrowdSurf. This is a great option if you don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to transcription, but want to make some extra money. They have flexible schedules and you can work as much or as little as you want.

  • M*Modal. If you’re a qualified medical transcriptionist, this is the place for you.

  • Pioneer Transcription Services. If you’re bilingual, check out this company. They’re looking for transcription and translation services for English and Spanish projects.

  • Tigerfish. As one of the oldest transcription companies around, they’re a reliable source for any transcriptionist to find work.

  • Quicktate. Another company for beginners, Quicktate will help you get started and potentially promote you to their related company, iDictate, for more advanced work and salaries.

  • Capital Typing. Want to start working from home but not sure if transcription is for you? Capital Typing provides transcription and data entry services as well as customer support, secretarial, and translation services so you can try your hand at a lot of things here.

  • Cyber Dictate. Last but not least, Cyber Dictate is for people with at least 2 years of experience and a typing speed of 70 WPM, so apply if you’re already a transcription expert.

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Chris Kolmar

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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