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If you’re looking for a work from home job that’s both flexible and profitable, becoming a transcriptionist is definitely an option worth considering. You can get started with little experience and have the opportunity to earn more money as you progress and become faster.
Here’s what’s what you need to know about transcribing, how much you can expect to earn, and a list of some of the best places to apply for online transcription jobs for beginners.
What does a transcriptionist do?
Transcriptionists convert audio recordings into written text, with special attention paid to accuracy and grammar.
There are different levels of transcriptionist, from the beginner who needs only a computer with internet access, to professionals who work for major businesses and need years of experience.
The profession is open to everyone – transcribers are independent contractors who can work from home, anywhere in the world – even working while travelling can be an option.
Skills you need for transcription work
Although you can get started as a transcriptionist with little or no experience, there are some skills you’ll need to be effective when transcribing.
- Great listening skills – this is the foundation of transcription and the key skill you’ll need if you want to be successful working as a transcriptonist.
- Good understanding of English language and accents – recordings will often have multiple voices and varying accents, so you’ll need to be able to distinguish between speakers and accurately understand what’s being said.
- Good typing speed – Being able to type quickly and accurately will help you complete transcription work quickly and effectively.
- Good grasp of spelling and grammar – As a transcriptionist you’re required to type accurately, using the correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Do you need certification to be a transcriptionist?
Whilst for a lot of general transcription work you don’t need certification of qualifications, some fields of transcription, such as legal or medical may require certification. In some cases, such as court reporting, licensing may be required.
How much can a transcriptionist earn?
How much you can earn doing transcription work will vary based on experience and specific requirements of each project.
The average rate of pay is 18-25 cents per audio minute, with varying rates depending on the difficulty of the job and urgency of delivery. Some companies pay more. Freelance transcriptionists can charge much more, or charge hourly, as long as they can deliver quality work.
Obviously, the faster you become at transcribing, the more money you can make per hour, so you should expect to earn less as a beginner simply because it will take you longer to convert the audio to text.
There are lots of factors that can affect the speed it will take to transcribe, such as the quality of the audio, whether there is any background noise, regional accents of the speakers and whether research is needed for complex topics.
A clear recording with few speakers on a topic that requires little research can be transcribed much quicker.
On average, it can take up to 4 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio. According to Rev.com, an experienced professional transcriptionist is able to transcribe 1 audio hour in 2-3 hours, with some of the most qualified transcriptions able to transcribe up to 30 minutes of audio in just one hour.
As a beginner, it could take several minutes to transcribe a single minute of audio.
Since the pay is usually based on the length of the audio, rather than the actual time spent working, you should factor that in to how much you’ll earn for your time.
Getting the experience will probably involve working at the lower rates but will give valuable experience which can eventually lead to higher paid pro transcriptionist work.
What equipment do you need to get started as a transcriptionist?
The main thing you’ll need to get started as a transcriptionist is a computer with a word processor such as Microsoft Word.
As a lot of transcription work is remote, you’ll also need a reliable internet connection.
Whilst other equipment aren’t necessarily essential as a beginner transcriptionist, there are some things that will make your work easier and more productive. These include:
- Headphones or head set
These are important as they will make it much easier to hear clearly what’s being said on the audio files. They can also help to block and background noise to help you focus only on the audio.
- A foot pedal
A transcriptionist’s foot pedal can seriously improve your producivity and ease of transcribing. It allows you to use your foot to pause the audio, to stop and start it. This means your hands are kept free to type which can really speed up the process. You can of course stop and start the audio using your hands, but this is a much less effective way of working.
- Transcription software
Transcription software can help with the process of transcribing by making it easier to stop and start your audio using specific keys on your keyboard. It can also work with your foot pedal to allow you to control the audio that way.
There are lots of different types of transcription software available, including a few free options such as Express Scribe.
Pros and cons of being a transcriptionist
Many people like transcription work because it can be done on a remote basis, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. It’s extremely flexible, because as long as you complete the work to its deadline, you are free to choose your own working pattern and schedule. You can work as much or as little as you want, depending on your income needs.
The downsides are that working freelance means less job security, and the work itself can be repetitive and dull. You may also find it lonely, as it’s not a social way to work.
Once upside is that the more experience you gain, the faster you become, which means you can earn more money in the time you spend working.
- Flexible – work on your own schedule
- Remote – you can work from anywhere
- More experience/skill = more money
- Can be dull and repetitive
- Work may not be guaranteed
What type of people hire transcriptionists?
- Some businesses use transcription for general data entry, such as when audio recordings are used in customer service operations. For example, if there’s an issue with quality of service in a call center, a transcriptionist might listen to the calls and produce text transcripts that will be used to evaluate the quality of customer service.
- Businesses that hire transcriptionists to convert audio recordings into text, usually to be used for documents such as press releases or reports. Business professionals sometimes prepare presentations or speeches using notes that they’ve written down while listening to a recording.
- Businesses that have a lot of recording to do – like those involved in research, new product development or sales and marketing – they may need transcriptionists on staff whose job it is make sure all recordings are transcribed into text. This may involve listening to some recordings and doing the transcription right away, while others might be saved for a later date.
- Some businesses that hire transcriptionists are universities and other education institutions whose teaching materials start out as audio or video files. The school may want to hire a transcriptionist who can convert the recordings into text in order to streamline the process of creating study guides, lecture notes and curriculum materials. This may require quite extensive knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
- Businesses that hire transcriptionists also include those in law enforcement or government agencies (such as the FBI) whose work requires creating a written transcript from audio recordings to be used for court proceedings where tapes of conversations are presented as evidence.
Where to find work as a transcriptionist
Most transcriptionists find work by searching online. There are lots of online transcribing platforms with varying rates of pay and qualification requirements. Once you’ve gained experience you can also advertise your services on online job markets and forums such as Upwork and Odesk.
Here are some sites where you can apply for online transcription jobs for beginners.
Transcribe Me is a transcription service that caters for various industries including Education, Medical, Consulting, Market Research and Technology.
Anyone over 18 with a computer and internet connection can apply to be a transcriptionist with Transcribe Me.
Do you need experience to apply for work?
You don’t need any prior experience to start working for Transcribe Me, but you will need to pass their English entrance exam. You can have two attempts to pass the exam, if you fail twice, you’ll be required to wait 30 days before attempting again.
Transcribe Me gives you access to numerous resources to help you learn and improve your transcribing skills.
How much does Transcribe Me pay?
Beginner general transcribers start at $15 per audio hour. This means the length of the audio to be transcribed, not the amount of time it takes you. Therefore a 4 minute audio file will pay $1, regardless of how long it takes you to transcribe. Other special and advancement opportunities pay more.
How does Transcribe Me work?
You can work as much or as little as you want on Transcribe Me, although they do require that you complete at least on job per month. Audio files to transcribe are usually between 2 and 8 minutes long. All work must be completed on their online work hub and you don’t need any special software to work through Transcribe Me.
How does Transcribe Me pay?
Transcribe Me processes payments once a week on Thursdays and workers will receive their money directly into their PayPal account. In order to be paid you must have at least $20 in your earned balance and click to withdraw before the cut off time. If not your earnings will be rolled over to the next payday.
Rev offers freelancing transcription jobs for typists that let you work remotely and flexibly. There are hundreds of jobs available, meaning you can choose projects that interest you.
What kind of work does Rev.com offer?
When you work freelance for Rev, the kind of audio files you’ll convert to text can include things like focus groups, recorded interviews, podcasts and lectures.
How does Rev.com pay?
Rev.com pays weekly via PayPal for all jobs completed.
How much can you earn on Rev.com?
The average monthly earnings from freelance transcriptionists on Rev.com is $245 with the top earning being $1495.
Do you need experience to apply for transcribing work on Rev.com?
You don’t need to have experience to apply, but you will be required to take a quiz and submit a transcript to prove your English skills and understanding of Rev’s styling requirements. Once you’re approved, you can start to work straight away.
There is currently a waitlist for transcription work at Rev due to high demand, but you are still able to submit an application.
Scribie is another transcription service you can apply to work for without any previous transcription experience. It’s slightly different from other transcription work as they provide you with an automated transcript of the audio, which you then check and correct.
How much does Scribie pay?
Scribie pays between $5 and $25 per audio hour transcribed. Payment is via Paypal. They pay a bonus $5 for every 3 hours of audio transcribed.
What are the requirements to work for Scribie?
To be accepted on Scribie you’ll need:
- Good comprehension of English
- Ability to interpret conversations
- Ability to apply context and identify mistakes
- A Verified PayPal account (linked to a bank account or credit card)
- Laptop/desktop computer and internet connection
- Latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Safari web browser
You’ll also need to complete and submit a test file to become certified to transcribe with Scribie.
Update (30/07): Speechpad are not currently recruiting do to high demand and suggest you check back in a couple of months.
How does transcribing for Speechpad work?
Working with SpeechPad is really flexible. You can choose the amount of work you want to do and when you want to do it. You can choose to work on longer projects or to complete small jobs when you have less time.
All work is done on the Speechpad worker website. Once you’ve applied and been approved you’ll be given a worker account, so you can sign in to find work and get qualified for more jobs.
You can complete qualifications within the worker website, such as learning new style guides. These will allow you to qualify for more jobs.
You’ll receive a rating based on the quality of your work, based on the average of your last 10 jobs. You rating will be dependent on how many mistakes need to be corrected by reviewers. The fewer mistakes, the higher the rating, and the more jobs you’ll be eligible for.
Do I need experience to transcribe with Speechpad?
Although experience as a transcriptionist helps, it’s not required to work with SpeechPad. However, they do state that the following skills are important:
- Being fluent in the English language
- Good grammar and punctuation skills.
- Conversationally competent with diverse dialects, vernaculars, figures of speech, and jargon.
- Accurate typist with typing speed of at least 40 words per minute.
- Detail-oriented and comfortable finding the correct spelling of proper nouns and technical terms.
- Good listening skills and the ability to listen and type at the same time.
How much does Speechpad pay?
The pay for transcription jobs with Speechpad range between $0.25 and $1 per audio minute. Workers are paid twice weekly in US dollars via PayPal.
Go Transcript is a global web based transcription and translation company that welcomes applications worldwide from freelance transcriptionists.
What’s the application process for Go Transcript?
To work for Go Transcript you’ll first need to sign up and create an account. From there you’ll be able to study the transcription guidelines to make sure you understand the requirements.
Afetr this, you need to complete a transcription test. You need to complete the test with at least 95% accuracy to pass and become a transcriptionist for Go Transcript. If you fail the test you are able to retake it. All tests are reviewed manually and it can take between 30 and 60 days to recieve results, which are sent via email.
Do you need any equipment to work for Go Transcript?
All you need to work for Go Transcript is a PC and a set of headphones, although you can use a foot pedal if you wish.
How much does Go Transcript pay?
The average rate of pay is $0.60 per audio minute.
Go Transcript pays weekly on Fridays, and their payment methods are PayPal and Payoneer.
GMR Transcription recruit general transcriptionists with no experience, but do require you to pass their strict test in oder to be eligible for work. It may be best suited to people who already have experience or qualifications in transcribing.
You must be based in the US to apply for transcription work with GMR, but you can work from home on your own schedule. To get started you’ll need a computer with high speed internet, MS Office, a foot pedal and headphones.
GMR ask that their typists take on at least 4 hours of audio each month.
Pay rates are based on turnaround time, number of speakers and the quality of audio.
3PlayMedia offer both English and Spanish transcription work, making video content accessible. They offer work from home contract roles transcribing audio and editing incorrect transcriptions.
To work for 3Play they require:
- Excellent written communication skills
- Excellent command of English grammar and punctuation
- Proficiency with internet research and reference resources
- The ability to manage projects and work independently
You can choose which projects you wish to work for and work on your own schedule. Payment is weekly regardless of how many or few hours you’ve worked.
Making money from home as a transcriptionist
Online transcribing work is a great way to make money from home if you have great listening skills and are an accurate typist. The online transcription jobs for beginners listed above are a great place to start if you want to dip your toe in the water, and it could potentially become a profitable and flexible side hustle, or even full time income!
Other ways to make money from home
If transcribing isn’t for you or you want to add some extra money making ideas to your repertoire, here are some other work from home ideas.