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Working as a Medical Transcriptionist

What Does a Medical Transcriptionist Do

Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.


Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:

  • Listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other healthcare worker
  • Transcribe and interpret the dictation into diagnostic test results, operative reports, referral letters, and other documents
  • Review and edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software, making sure that the transcription is correct, complete, and consistent in style
  • Translate medical abbreviations and jargon into the appropriate long form
  • Identify inconsistencies, errors, and missing information within a report that could compromise patient care
  • Follow up with the healthcare provider to ensure the accuracy of the reports
  • Submit health records for physicians to approve
  • Follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements
  • Enter medical reports into electronic health records (EHR) systems
  • Perform quality improvement audits

Traditionally, medical transcriptionists used audio playback equipment or software that is connected to their computer. However, technological advances have changed the way medical transcription is done. In the past, medical transcriptionists would listen to an entire dictation to produce a transcribed report. While many transcriptionists still perform these traditional transcription services, others are taking on additional roles. Today, many medical documents are prepared with the use of speech recognition technology, in which specialized software automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then reviews the draft for accuracy, identifying any errors and editing the report, when necessary. They use word-processing and other specialized software, as well as medical reference materials, as needed.

To do their work, medical transcriptionists must become familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. Their ability to understand what the healthcare worker has recorded, correctly transcribe that information, and identify any inaccuracies in the transcript is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or even harmful treatments.

Transcriptionists may need to be familiar with EHR systems. They may create templates, help develop documentation policies, and train physicians on how to use EHR systems.

Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors’ offices may have other duties, such as answering phones and greeting patients.

How To Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, grammar, and word-processing software.


Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary education in medical transcription, which is offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs. Medical transcription programs are typically 1-year certificate programs, although there are also associate’s degree programs.

Programs normally include coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, risk management, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some transcriptionists, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nurse or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) certifications. Both certifications require passing an exam and periodic retesting or continuing education.

The RHDS certification, formerly known as the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT), is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor’s office.

The CHDS certification, formerly known as the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), is for transcriptionists who have at least 2 years of experience and those who handle dictation in several medical specialties.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must be comfortable using computers and word-processing software, because those tools are an essential part of their jobs. Transcriptionists also may need to know how to operate electronic health records (EHR) systems.

Critical-thinking skills. Transcriptionists must be able to assess medical reports and spot any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in finished drafts. They must also be able to think critically when doing research to find the information that they need and to ensure that sources are both accurate and reliable.

Listening skills. Transcriptionists must listen carefully to dictation from physicians. They must be able to hear and interpret the intended meaning of the medical report.

Time-management skills. Because dictation must be done quickly, medical transcriptionists must be comfortable working under short deadlines.

Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of the English language and grammar.

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Average Salary$36,740
Job Growth Rate-3%

Medical Transcriptionist Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical Transcriptionists in America make an average salary of $36,740 per year or $18 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $43,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $31,000 per year.
Average Salary

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
New York, NY
Salary Range38k - 53k$45k$45,492
New Brunswick, NJ
Salary Range38k - 53k$45k$45,261
Los Angeles, CA
Salary Range34k - 48k$41k$40,717
Toledo, OH
Salary Range34k - 48k$41k$40,633
Salisbury, MD
Salary Range33k - 47k$40k$40,092
Salt Lake City, UT
Salary Range33k - 46k$40k$39,658

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Medical Transcriptionist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Medical Transcriptionist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Medical Transcriptionist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Medical Transcriptionist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Medical Transcriptionist Demographics



87.8 %


9.4 %


2.8 %



71.1 %


10.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

10.5 %

Foreign Languages Spoken


62.2 %


8.4 %


5.5 %
See More Demographics

Medical Transcriptionist Education


10.6 %
8.2 %



29.3 %


23.7 %


20.0 %
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Part Time

Top Skills For a Medical Transcriptionist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 20.8% of medical transcriptionists listed medical records on their resume, but soft skills such as computer skills and listening skills are important as well.

Best States For a Medical Transcriptionist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a medical transcriptionist. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, New York, New Jersey, and Iowa. Medical transcriptionists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $46,430. Whereas in New York and New Jersey, they would average $45,446 and $45,274, respectively. While medical transcriptionists would only make an average of $44,949 in Iowa, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. South Dakota

Total Medical Transcriptionist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Illinois

Total Medical Transcriptionist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Iowa

Total Medical Transcriptionist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Medical Transcriptionist Employers

1. MedQuist
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2. Nuance Communications
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3. MTBC Inc
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4. SoftScript
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5. iMedX
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6. St. Joseph Hospital
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Medical Transcriptionist Videos

Updated October 2, 2020