How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Learn how to become a medical transcriptionist. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in medical transcription.

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  • 0:01 Becoming a Medical…
  • 1:15 Step 1: Earn a…
  • 2:08 Step 2: Gain Experience
  • 2:52 Step 3: Consider Certification

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Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist

Degree Level Certificate or associate degree
Degree Field Medical transcription
Experience None entry-level positions; 2 years for senior-level positions
Certification Voluntary
Key Skills Critical thinking, listening, writing, time-management, and computer skills; ability to type 30-60 words per minute
Salary $34,890 (2015 median for all medical transcriptionists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Online Job Postings (July-August 2015)

Medical transcriptionists compose written reports of the audio recordings made by physicians and other healthcare professionals. They're responsible for producing various types of documents that will be added to the permanent file of patients, including diagnostic test results, referral letters, operative reports, discharge summaries, and medical histories. Medical transcriptionists commonly work from a home office setting, although some find employment in physicians' offices and hospitals.

To become a medical transcriptionist, a certificate or associate degree typically in medical transcription is typically required. Entry-level positions don't require any experience, though two years of experience may be required for senior-level positions. Voluntary certification is also available. Medical transcriptionists should be skilled in critical thinking, listening, writing, time-management and using a computer. They should also have the ability to type 30-60 words per minute. Medical transcriptionists made an annual median salary of $34,890 a year as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Earn a Certificate or Associate Degree

Community colleges, vocational schools and distance-learning programs offer postsecondary programs in medical transcription. Students take classes in medical terminology, computer applications, business writing and legal issues concerning healthcare documentation. Some of these programs also offer fieldwork experiences and internships as a component of the curriculum. These experiences provide students with valuable on-the-job training and help them apply what they have learned in their coursework to real-life situations.

Develop strong typing skills. The ability to type quickly and accurately is highly valued by employers and can lead to increased salary. While in school, students can take advantage of word processing courses. This is particularly helpful for individuals who work for a per-line-typed rate.

Step 2: Gain Experience

In addition to completing a training program, students should consider gaining real-world experience to prepare for employment. This can be achieved by seeking out internships while in school or obtaining entry-level employment in a hospital or physician's office to learn about medical terminology. Additionally, employers may expect at least two years of experience for senior transcription positions.

Develop strong computer skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more employers are using digital audio files and back-end speech recognition technology. To better improve available opportunities and job prospects, students should become familiar with computer technology and transcribing from digital audio.

Step 3: Consider Certification

Although certification for medical transcriptionists is voluntary, employers may prefer candidates who have become certified. Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) are two certifications offered by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. Graduates who have less than two years of experience and who work within a single specialty often choose the RMT certification, while the CMT credential is designed for medical transcriptionists who work in multiple specialties. Certification lasts three years and is earned by passing an exam. To maintain certification, transcriptionists must participate in continuing education courses.

Medical transcriptionists compose written reports of the audio recordings made by physicians and other healthcare professionals. A certificate or associate degree in the field is typically necessary and experience in certification can help employment prospects.

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