How to Become a Transcriptionist Online

Nov 19, 2019

Transcriptionists create written transcripts within many industries, including the business, healthcare and legal fields. Below you will find information about how you can prepare to become a transcriptionist online.

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Transcriptionist Career Information

Transcriptionists, also known as transcribers, listen to audio recordings of speech or live events and are tasked with efficiently and accurately transcribing that information into text. They might also be tasked with correcting speech-to-text software for misinterpretations of speech and improving the formatting. Other duties can also include expanding abbreviations into their associated official long-forms, organizing and sorting text files, and filling out summaries or information forms. The following table includes more details about this career:

Required Skills Typing skills, English language and grammar skills, listening acuity
Job Growth (2018-2028)* -3% (for medical transcriptionists)
Median Salary (2019)** $35,489 per year (for all transcribers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Steps to Becoming a Transcriptionist Online

Transcriptionists typically need to complete a formal training program where they learn how to use transcribing equipment. These programs are available online, and it is also possible to earn certification and complete additional training online.

Step One: Complete an Education Program

Typically, employers want to see that you have an understanding of the English language and grammar as well as an understanding of how to create the transcripts. These skills can be gained in an online program specific to the type of position you plan to seek. For instance, both medical transcription and legal transcription programs are available online and can be completed in one year or less.

Industry-specific transcription also provide training in the language and terminology used in that industry. For example, having an understanding medical terminology that will be regularly used within the medical field can only improve your chances of becoming a medical transcriptionist.

Step Two: Consider a Bachelor's Degree

Although not required, a bachelor's degree can set you apart from the competition. While degrees in fields related to the subject area of a given transcription position can make applicants more desirable to employers, degrees in English can also serve to demonstrate a general level of capability for general transcriptionist positions. There are degree programs in English or technical writing available for those wishing to earn a bachelor's degree online.

Step Three: Earn Certification

Earning certification from an organization such as the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) can help to prove to potential employers that you have the skills and qualifications needed for the job. For instance, AHDI offers a Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) credential for medical transcriptionists with less than two years of experience. Preparation materials for this certification exam are available online through the organization's website.

Step Four: Practice and Gain Experience

Building your English grammar skills or familiarity with industry-specific terminology could improve your chances of securing a career, but one of the most valuable skills for a transcriptionist is typing. There are many video tutorials available completely online to help you improve your typing speed and accuracy as well as videos that teach you techniques for hand placement or videos offering specific tips about transcription itself. Working to improve your accuracy and speed can help you when are ready to attempt an application and the various assessment processes involved in applying to transcription jobs.

Step Five: Complete Online Application Tests

The application process for these positions can include a transcription test. Generally, this test measures how well applicants can transcribe a standardized audio file and how well applicants can work within the transcription software. As transcription is a career that demands a high level of accuracy, precision, and efficiency, these tests are often timed and will look for any mistakes and inaccuracies within the final text. It is possible to find practice tests online, in order to prepare for the exam.

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