This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission from any purchases made using these links, at no extra cost to you.
Welcome to my new blog series! The Remote Jobs for Moms series will feature remote jobs that are perfect for moms to start. Some will be employee-type jobs, while others will be more focused on self-employment, allowing you to build a business from home.
This remote job spotlight is on transcription work. In this guide, you’ll learn how to become a transcriptionist, what equipment you’ll need, and where to find work. In my years of working from home and researching remote jobs for moms who want flexibility, transcription work consistently pops up as a viable option.
I understand why; I’ve tried it myself and know how excellent of a job it can be for the right person. Personally, I found it tedious, but that’s probably because I didn’t feel that connected to the work. It was okay for a side gig here and there, but I didn’t see myself sticking with it long-term.
However, a transcription career is something that fits others perfectly. If you have excellent typing and listening skills and you’re good at multi-tasking, you’ll probably excel at general transcription.
What is Transcription?
Transcription work involves listening to audio clips and typing what you hear. You know those people in courtrooms who sit at a typewriter or computer typing what’s being said in the room? They’re transcribing the court’s conversation into text, so interested parties will have a reference of everything discussed in the courtroom. The captions you see on your favorite TV shows also come from a form of transcription known as captioning, but it’s the same basic idea.
Transcribed audio is used for several purposes, like doctor and health records, interviews for journalists, and to assist the deaf and hard of hearing with communicating. Honestly, it’s a pretty awesome career to have if you have the skill set for it. And, you can get paid to do it from home!
Types of Transcription Work
As I mentioned, transcription can come in many forms:
- General: This is what most beginners start with. It generally involves turning non-technical audio files into texts, such as general interviews or speeches.
- Medical: Audio files made by doctors and other health professionals use medical transcriptionists to turn their audio into text to be places in patient files. This type of transcription work is technical, so you’ll usually be required to have some medical field experience to understand the terminology.
- Legal: Legal transcription is another form of technical transcription that requires experience. This is what courtrooms and lawyers utilize, so knowledge of legal terms is a must.
- Closed captioning: With closed captioning, you’ll transcribe movies, TV shows, and videos to help the deaf and hard of hearing understand what speakers are saying.
- Live captioning (also known as real-time captioning): Similar to closed captioning, but you’ll transcribe what speakers say as the broadcast airs. You’ll need superb listening and typing skills to excel in this area.
There are also different ways to transcribe files, so the clients you work with might require you to know them. One way is verbatim, which means that you’ll transcribe what’s being said word for word. It can prove to be difficult when there’s some language that’s unclear in the audio file.
There’s also intelligent transcription, which allows you to leave out some parts of the audio that might be unclear, as long as the overall focus and meaning of the speaking parts doesn’t change.
Finally, there’s edited transcription, which basically polishes the speaking parts of the audio to make more sense to readers. This is helpful if the final text is going to be something the public reads, or if it will eventually need to be translated into another language.
What Do You Need to Start a Transcription Career?
Let me start by saying that not just anyone can be a successful transcriptionist. I’m proof of that! Even though I’m a fast typist, I’m not able to efficiently listen to audio and type what I’m hearing, especially if the speech is muffled. It really takes the right skill set to make this career work.
A few skills transcriptionists must have include:
- Fast typing skills (I’d recommend at least 70 WPM)
- Accurate typing skills (I think this is where many struggle; having to go back to fix mistakes will slow you down big time)
- Good research skills
- Incredible listening skills with the ability to pick apart parts of speech, accents, etc.
- Excellent computer skills
- Ability to multitask
Contrary to what a lot of work from home enthusiasts will tell you, transcription isn’t just about listening and typing. You need to be able to multitask because you’ll listen and type at the same time and you’ll need to research words or phrases you don’t understand. Knowing your way around a computer is super important, too, because most sites that offer transcription work will require you to work with specific programs and management systems.
Helpful Equipment and Learning Materials for Transcribers
One downfall of a transcription career is that it does require some equipment to get started. Unlike other work at home jobs that require only a computer and an internet connection, you’ll need those plus a headset, foot pedal, and transcription software. Some companies may not require them, but they’ll make your work so much easier.
Here are a few things I’d recommend purchasing if you’re serious about starting a transcription career:
- Express Scribe Pro Software with Foot Pedal (the foot pedal helps you start and stop your audio file without needing to move your mouse)
- WordSlinger Deluxe Headset
- BestOffice Swivel Executive Desk Chair (having a comfortable chair with armrests is essential when you’re doing desk work!)
The following books and courses can also be helpful in getting you started with transcription:
- https://transcribeanywhere.com/mini-course/Transcribe Anywhere’s Free 7-Lesson Mini Course
- Transcribe Anywhere’s General Transcription Theory and Practice
- Jump-Start Your Work at Home General Transcription Career: The Fast and Easy Way to Get Started!
- Become a General Transcriptionist and Get Paid to Type
How Much Can I Make as a Transcriptionist?
If this is a career you’re interested in, then money will obviously be an important deciding factor. How much do transcriptionists make? That usually depends on how much time they can devote to the work and how experienced they are.
As a beginner, you can expect to make somewhere in the realm of about $10 to $15 per hour. Those who excel at transcribing more technical audio files – like medical and legal – will likely make closer to $20 per hour or more.
The highest-paying form of transcription is usually live captioning because it requires the most skill. As a real-time captioner, you won’t be able to research as you work and you’ll need to have incredibly fast typing skills. According to Paysa, a real-time captioner earns an average of $73,600 per year.
Where to Find Transcription Work
Once you get some experience as a transcriptionist, you can likely branch out on your own to find clients. Until then, it’s good to start with companies that provide consistent transcription work, like those below:
Rev is the company I worked with several years ago when I dabbled in transcription. I loved it. It was easy to work with, sent reliable payments, and had consistent work for me. You can choose the projects you want to work on and work as much or as little as you want.
This company hires freelancers frequently for transcription work and there’s no experience needed. You get paid at least $1 to $2 per audio minute, which is more than what many other companies pay. You will have to pay $35 to take the entrance exam, but it might be a good trade-off for those who want excellent pay and are confident in their skills.
One of the reasons freelance transcriptionists love Scribie is that it’s super flexible. The audio files here are usually short (10 minutes or less), so you won’t spend hours on one file. That’s perfect for busy moms who don’t have large blocks of time to devote to the work.
Ubiqus has both beginner and experienced transcription work. If you don’t have experience, you can simply state why you believe your skills can help you handle the job when you apply.
Find steady work as a transcriptionist for Allegis Transcription. The company is almost always looking for US-based workers for general, legal, and other forms of transcription work.
Upwork is a freelancer platform where you build a profile and portfolio and apply to jobs you’re interested in. You can find a lot of transcription work in both short-term and long-term capacities. I personally like Upwork’s escrow system that helps ensure freelancers get paid for their work.
The great thing about Upwork, too, is that if you find out transcription isn’t your cup of tea, you can always update your profile and look for different jobs. Right now, Upwork is in need of customer service representatives to meet the needs of clients!
—> Sign up for Upwork as a customer service representative using this link and get a free month of Freelancer Plus! <—
Get Started as a Transcriptionist Today!
Now that you know how to become a transcriptionist, it’s time for you to go out there, grab some work, and see if it’s the right career opportunity for you.
If you want a little more time to test the waters before diving in, I suggest signing up for Amazon Mechanical Turk. It’s a good place to find quick transcription gigs to see how you and the work mesh together. If you think it’s something you want to stick with, you can then move onto applying for transcription jobs with the companies I listed above.
Do you have any questions about transcription and how to get started? Drop them down in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer your Q’s.
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.