Medical Transcriptionist Education Requirements and Job Duties

Medical transcriptionists require some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Medical transcriptionists work in hospitals or doctor's officers. They listen to dictation from physicians and other medical professionals and incorporate it into a patient's medical record through a computer word processing program. They need either a certificate or an associate's degree in medical transcription. During their training, students learn about medical terminology, anatomy and the technical aspects of transcription work. Most programs include hands-on training. Professional certification in this field is optional, but it could boost a medical transcriptionist's job prospects.

Education RequirementsCertificate or associate's degree in medical transcription
Certification Voluntary
Projected Job Outlook (2012-22)* 8%
Median Wage (2013)*$34,590

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education Requirements for Medical Transcriptionists

Degree Programs

Typical job postings for medical transcriptionists require that applicants have completed educational programs in medical transcription. A would-be transcriptionist can spend one year earning a certificate or two years earning an associate's degree from a community college or a vocational school, explains the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Topics of study include editing and proofreading, keyboarding, transcription and information management.

Lessons in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology help medical transcriptionists maximize accuracy when taking dictation. Some medical transcription programs include supervised on-the-job training. The Approval Committee for Certificate Programs, which is part of the American Health Information Management Association offers voluntary accreditation for medical transcription programs. Not all medical transcription programs have undergone this evaluation.


Certification and registration for medical transcriptionists is voluntary. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) awards the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) credentials. The exams for both levels test candidates' transcribing ability, as well as their knowledge of topics like anatomy, diseases and legal issues in health care, the AHDI explains.

The Registered Medical Transcriptionist designation is for recent graduates who have less than two years of experience in acute care. The Certified Medical Transcriptionist designation is for professionals who have at least two years of experience in acute care. CMT candidates should have a broad range of experience with many kinds of records.

Job Duties

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings made by doctors or other health care staff. They type what they hear into a word processing program on a computer. The recordings thus become medical documents for patients' records. These documents include patient medical histories, referral letters, autopsy reports and physical examination reports.

The documents are reviewed by the physician (or other health care worker) who made the original recording. In order to accurately transcribe dictated recordings, medical transcriptionists must be highly familiar with medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures and common treatments.

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