How to Become a Transcriptionist: Ultimate Guide For Beginners

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Are you looking for a flexible online job? Want to learn how to become a transcriptionist?

Transcription is one of the most common and flexible freelance jobs. You get to work from home, and as much or as little as you want. Keep reading to discover what transcription is and how to get started with this online job.

This detailed guide will enlighten you on all there is to know about transcription. By the end of this article, you will know what to do to start a successful freelance transcription career. 

Let’s get started, shall we? 

What is transcription? And what does the work of a transcriptionist involve?

Transcription is the process of transforming an audio file into a written text. In simpler terms, you listen to a recorded audio file and type out what you hear.

So, your work as a transcriptionist will be to play an audio file as you type it out. Sometimes you will land smooth gigs, and you won’t have to replay and pause the audio so often. 

On the other hand, with some other transcription work, you will have to pause and replay the audio several times because of:

  • Thick accents
  • Broken English
  • Poor quality audio
  • Unclear dialogues

Of course, if you encounter such files, you will have to put in more time and effort. But, the brighter side is that these will usually pay better than clear and smooth audio files. 

How to Become a Transcriptionist

Can you make good money being a transcriptionist?

You can make some decent money working as a transcriptionist. However, what different transcriptionists earn varies significantly. I hate to not give you an exact figure, but I will tell you factors that will determine how much you will make as a transcriptionist below. 

  • Your speed – The faster you transcribe, the more money you can earn
  • The company you work for – Some companies pay better than others. 
  • Your experience level
  • The type of transcription work

Usually, transcription gigs will pay you based on how long the audio is. If the audio is 1 hour long, you will usually take longer – say two or three hours – to transcribe it. So, it’s ideal to know how long it takes you to transcribe audio files to estimate how much you will make per hour. 

However, I will give you an estimate of what transcribers make so that you can know what to expect. According to Payscale, the average pay for transcribers is $15.03 per hour.

However, an entry-level transcriber with less than a year in the field can expect to make approximately $12.72 per hour. Transcribers with 1-4 years of experience are most likely to make an average of $14.48 per hour.

With 5-9 years of experience, you are most likely to make approximately $15.36 per hour. And with 10-19 years of experience, the average pay comes to around $19.36 per hour. 

What skills & qualifications do you need to become a successful transcriptionist?

Wondering what skills you need to have to succeed in transcription? Here’s what it takes to succeed as a transcriptionist. 

  • Fast Typing Speeds – You need to have a impressive typing speeds. Usually, human beings speak faster than they write. What this means is that your typing speed needs to be excellent to match that of the audios. At least 50 WPM is a good start. 
  • Be good with accents – You need to be good with accents. You will always come across audio files from people in different parts of the world, and some will come with pretty thick accents. If you are only conversant with your accent, you will have trouble transcribing files from other parts of the world. Watch videos from other parts of the world and try transcribing audios from different accents for your practice. 
  • Excellent listening skills – You need to have great listening skills. Some audios will be noisy and not corrigible enough. If you say that you will only be transcribing clear audios, you may land very few jobs. You don’t want to miss out on work because the audio is low quality or has some background noise. With excellent listening skills, you will have an easier time transcribing.

With good listening skills, you will produce highly accurate documents. All the skills you need should drive you to one destination: accuracy. With accuracy and speed, you definitely will satisfy your clients and smile all the way to the bank. 

It’s great if you’re also above average in grammar. There will always be spoken language and written language. If your grammar level is not excellent, you will have trouble differentiating the two.

Usually, you don’t need to correct the grammatical errors of speakers. However, sometimes, you will need to do it. Also, you need to know when to break the paragraphs.

How do I know when I need to correct the speakers’ grammatical errors or not?  Enrolling in paid training, such as the Transcribe Anywhere course by Janet Shaugnessy will point you in the right direction. 

Finally, some gigs will require you to have a bachelor’s degree. However, for most general transcription gigs, a high school diploma is enough. 

How to Become a Freelance Transcriptionist for Free

In this section, you’ll find the steps you need to follow to become a transcriptionist. 

Follow these steps and you will start earning from the comfort of your house sooner than you imagined. 

Step 1 – Do your research and understand what it takes to be a transcriber

If you have decided to be a transcriptionist, do your research and ensure you have all it takes. Yes, you can always develop the skills as you go, but can you do your work unsupervised? Because as a freelance transcriptionist, you will have to be motivated enough to beat the deadlines on your own. 

Do you have the patience to sit on a desk and work without succumbing to temptations such as social media? Do you possess the skills and qualifications of a transcriber discussed above?

These will be essential in your transcription career. You do not want to get into the job and end up having a difficult time. 

These skills will come in handy too:

  • Excellent listening skills
  • Fast typing skills
  • Proofreading and editing skills
  • Time management
  • Conversance with MS word 

Step 2 – Get Training

I know, transcription sounds simple. I mean, who can’t listen to someone talking and type out what they hear?

But, there is more to that. What do you do if the person is stuttering? What do you do if they are using a lot of fillers? What if the person is using a lot of broken grammar? What if it’s a conversation between two or more people like in an interview? How about if another person keeps interrupting the other in the conversation? 

There are so many rules that you need to know before getting that work. 

You also need to know how to set up your transcription business and get better ratings and returning clients. 

The truth is, there is a lot of information on the internet to get you started on your transcription business. However, there are secrets that nobody will reveal to you unless you get the training.

Besides, a training course offers a structured way of learning, so you won’t have to piece together all the pieces on your own.

For comprehensive training and to start your transcription career on the right foot, I recommend enrolling in Janet Shaugnessy’s FREE mini-course on transcription foundations.

Step 3 – Get the necessary transcription equipment

You may need to get the equipment in the course of training for practice. First, make sure you have a computer and a stable internet connection. Also, an excellent set of noise-canceling headphones is a must-have. 

Some gigs and companies require you to have a foot pedal and transcription software. So, depending on the approach you take, you may need to get these two. 

Step 4 – Take some practice tests 

After your training, don’t rush to get some real jobs. You don’t want to spend hours and hours only to get rejections. So, find transcription files and try transcribing them. Give the tests your best as if they were a client’s work. 

You can always ask your friends already in transcription for some files for practice. Also, you can never miss something online. Your trainer should also have some audio files for your practice. Besides, transcription companies such as GoTranscript have files you can use for practice. 

Don’t take something that’s an hour-long for practice. Several files that are approximately five minutes long would work just fine.

Just ensure to try some diverse files such as a man speaking, a conversation, a woman speaking, Asian accent, American accent, British accent, South African Accent, Pidgin, and Australian Accent. This will leave you in a better position to handle most accents that come your way. 

Step 5 – Find companies you want to work for

Transcription is so vast. And different companies have different transcription guidelines. Therefore, if you want to succeed in transcription, start by analyzing the style guides used by the different transcription companies.

Most of these companies have tests you need to pass before you are accepted. If you are not familiar with the style guide, you will not get accepted. 

And where do I learn transcription style guides from? Luckily for you, Janet Shaugnessy’s Transcribe Anywhere course has a module dedicated to learning transcription style guides, so check it out.

Select several companies you want to work for and then proceed to start the sign-up process. 

Step 6 – Sign up with a transcription company

First, you need to know that some companies are beginner-friendly while others require you to have some experience. Start with the beginner-friendly ones and advance from there. 

Some of the most popular beginner-friendly transcription sites include Speechpad, GoTranscript, Rev, Scribie, and TranscribeMe. These are great to start with. For more transcription companies, see our collection of the Best Online Transcription Jobs From Home.

In most cases, you will be able to access the job board after you pass the tests. 

Step 6 – Start Working 

Once you access the job board, don’t rush yet. Pick files that you can quickly transcribe. If you blunder, your ratings will go down, and you may be locked out of accessing gigs. Only go for jobs that you know you will ace. 

You only want to have positive ratings from your clients. 

Ideally, start with short and clear audio files. These are grabbed pretty first, so you need to be on the watch out. Most of the time, they pay less, but they are excellent for starting as you gain more experience. 

Step 7 – Invest in Transcription Software

As you gain experience, you will realize that you can handle longer and complex audio files. However, handling longer audio files can be pretty time-consuming and sometimes tiresome.

This is where transcription software will come in handy. The software will make the work simpler for you. 

Some transcription companies have their software. However, you can get yourself software such as Express Scribe

Also, as you get involved with quicker audio files, a foot pedal will come in handy. A foot pedal lets you pause, replay and resume audios using your foot. Remember, your hand is now getting more involved in faster typing. So, it is better to distribute the other duties to your foot. 

How to Become a Transcriptionist Online – Frequently Asked Questions

You have all the steps you need to make some good money as a transcriptionist. However, you probably still have some burning questions you want answered before you start on your transcription journey.

So, in this section, let’s cover some frequently asked questions related to becoming a transcriptionist. 

How long does it take to become a transcriptionist?

How long you take to become a transcriptionist will largely depend on how much time you invest in your training. If you are aggressive and invest some good time in it, you should be able to land your first transcription job after around three weeks of training. 

However, there is no rush at all. Take your time to familiarize yourself with the style guides and to practice transcribing different audio files. It will be worth it in the long run. 

Is it worth it being a Transcriptionist?

Yes, being a transcriptionist is worth it because it pays well and you get the flexibility to work whenever you want. If you’re good at it, you will be able to earn a decent amount of cash working a few hours a day.

Can Anybody Become A transcriptionist? 

No, not everybody can become a transcriptionist. If you type slowly, you will struggle with this kind of work.

If you lack focused listening, you will miss out on many words, which will affect your accuracy. Besides, if you are poor in grammar, you will struggle to satisfy your transcription clients.

What I am trying to say is, if you do not have the necessary transcription skills discussed above, you cannot make a good transcriptionist. 

Do you need any initial investment to become a transcriptionist? 

Yes, you need a good computer, a stable internet connection, and an excellent set of headphones. Do not be tempted to go for cheap headphones if you are not sure of their features. It is better to spend some good money on noise-canceling headphones. I assure you it will be worth it in the long run. It will make your work simpler, and it will pay off. 

Though considered secondary in some gigs, a foot pedal and transcription software are useful and can make your work simpler. 

Who Hires Transcriptionists? 

Many organizations and companies know that it is simpler to distribute and even store information when it is in written text than when it is in audio. This is why they will submit their audio files to transcription companies to seek transcription services from transcriptionists like you. 

Also, you will realize a lot of bloggers record their videos and post the clip on Youtube. They then hire a transcriptionist like you to create a text for their blog. 

Can You Do Transcription Jobs Full Time? 

Yes, transcription is a flexible, freelancing job. You can work as much or as little as you want. If an hour a day works for you, well and good. If you want to work for 8 hours a day, go ahead. You will be in charge of your own work schedule. 

Ready to become a transcriptionist?

Voila! There goes our ultimate guide on how to become a transcriptionist for free. Go out there, give it your all, and it will indeed bear you good results.

One thing for sure is, all steps are equally important. Do not rush and overlook anything. Be patient, and follow all the steps. Your efforts will pay off in the long run. 

Ready to become a freelance transcriptionist? Have any other questions or opinions to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below.

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