Are you looking for flexible ways to earn money online?
You’ve come across adverts for remote transcription jobs. You wonder exactly what’s involved and what skills you need to get started.
You probably have other questions: Why do people need transcriptionists? What equipment do I need? Is there more to this than just being able to type? Are these transcription jobs for beginners?
This post will provide the answers to these and other questions. You can then decide if this could be a good work-from-home job for you.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
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Table of contents
- What Is Transcription?
- Why Transcribe Audio to Text?
- How To Become A Good Transcriptionist
- Do You Need To Pass Any Tests?
- How Fast Do You Need To Type?
- What Equipment Does A Transcriptionist Need?
- Pros and Cons of Working as an Online Transcriber
- How Much Can You Earn?
- Are Transcriptionists in Demand?
- 5 Companies Offering Transcribing Jobs for Beginners
- Watch Out For Transcribing Job Scams
- Summing Up – Are Transcription Jobs For Beginners?
What Is Transcription?
Transcription is the transforming of audio or video recordings into the written text documents.
As a transcriptionist, you will listen to audio or video files and transcribe the content. Transcription jobs are categorized by:
- general – transcribing all different industries or businesses except medical and legal
- medical – all the skills of general with knowledge of medical terminology
- legal – again all the skills of general plus knowledge of legal terminology
Common examples are the proceedings of a court hearing, a physician’s voice notes, an interview, a podcast, or business speeches at a seminar.
Similar but not the same as a legal transcriptionist is a scopist. A scopist has the task of making sure the court reporter’s steno is correctly translated into English.
As a transcriptionist, you need to be a fast typist. Also, a good command of English, grammar, punctuation, and spelling are necessary. Having listening skills and paying attention to detail are also essential.
If you want to find out if you’re cut out for transcription jobs, this free training course will give you a good idea.
Why Transcribe Audio to Text?
There are several reasons to transcribe audio to text or to create content from a video:
- Not everyone will have the time to consume audio content. They may be in a noisy location with no headphones or they may simply prefer reading
- Having content in multiple formats is the best way of reaching a wider audience
- A text document can be skimmed
- When there’s a permanent written record of a speech or any event where audio recordings were taken, this becomes searchable. You can find a particular passage by using keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+F or Command+F) rather than fast-forwarding or rewinding to find what you want
- A text document is easier to understand for non-native speakers
- Increases accessibility for people with disabilities or people who have to keep the sound turned off on their computer
- You can include clickable links in text
- A text document can be optimized for the search engines. Google will pick up the title and description of video or audio but not the actual content of the video or audio file
- If a text document is on a website it may increase the time they spend on the site and reduce bounce rate. Website visitors may not want to listen to a podcast or watch a video, which means they may click away
- On a slow internet network, they won’t be so concerned about slow loading times. A video or audio track that takes a long time to load may cause them to leave your website.
How To Become A Good Transcriptionist
Before you become a transcriptionist, you should make sure you have the necessary skills. You will have to pass an online transcription test for most jobs.
You should get used to sitting at your computer for long periods. This is especially true if you are new to working from home online. You should practice doing tasks that will require you to concentrate for a while.
If you don’t know how to type fast, you should practice. Aim for 60 words a minute. Listen to videos or TV shows transcribe their contents. This is a valuable practice, and you will have to hone your listening skills.
You will find some people talk with an accent. Some talk too fast, others very slowly. And some you will struggle to understand. You will have to concentrate to understand everything.
You need computer skills that will help you research, download files, convert file types, produce documents formatted as required.
Make sure your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are up to scratch. Besides being fast, you must also be accurate.
Do You Need To Pass Any Tests?
Yes! Transcription tests are necessary even for the low-paying general transcription jobs at companies like Rev.com.
Generally, the companies will test your grammar, punctuation, spelling, and knowledge of the software you will be using. Then you will transcribe a sample audio file to test your accuracy and speed.
Below is an image of the Rev.com online editor that you have to use to complete your test.
How Fast Do You Need To Type?
While there may not be any specific speed requirement, you need to type reasonably fast. 60 words per minute (wpm) is a good goal to aim for.
You may be able to pass some online transcription tests with as little as 35 wpm. But the slower you type, the less you will earn.
It’s not only speed that’s important but also accuracy – spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
The good news is that with practice, you can type faster and make fewer mistakes. You can find courses online that will help you improve your typing speed and accuracy. This free typing course may help you.
What Equipment Does A Transcriptionist Need?
When you’re just starting, you need a high-speed internet connection, a computer or a laptop, and a keyboard. If typing hurts your wrists, you might consider getting an ergonomic keyboard. In addition, if you find you are cut out for this work, you will also require:
- a good set of headphones – this will make the audio clearer, save you time as you will rewind less and make your transcription more accurate
- a foot pedal – this is used to fast forward or rewind the audio, controlled with your feet it allows you to keep typing instead of pausing to rewind the tape. Most transcriptionists use a foot pedal but it is optional. You can control the audio or video files with your keyboard
- a comfortable chair – you will be spending many hours sitting at your desk and you don’t want back or neck pain, so get an adjustable chair
- transcribing software – will improve audio quality, automatically add timestamps, play many different file types, convert file types to other formats
- a quiet work environment – you need to concentrate on the audio and don’t want any distractions
Pros and Cons of Working as an Online Transcriber
- You are your own boss
- Flexible work – you set your own schedule and take or refuse work as you wish
- Work at home
- Few costs or equipment to get started
- Some recordings might be interesting
- You’ll be sitting at the computer for long periods of time which can strain your eyes, back, and neck
- Might become tedious
- You need self-discipline to stay focused on your work
- When you start you might not earn much
- You will probably be working as an independent contractor. You will be responsible for bookkeeping and paying taxes
How Much Can You Earn?
Your salary will depend on several things – how much work you want to do, your experience and the type of work you do. Medical and legal transcription work generally pays more.
There are many online platforms that allow beginners to join, and pay ranges from $10 to $20 per hour. So starting out, you may not earn much, but with experience, you will earn more.
Most companies advertise their pay by the audio hour or transcribed minute. These rates of pay may sound enticing, but it’s not what it seems.
For example, transcribeme.com advertises rates of $15 – $22 per audio hour. The industry standard is 4 hours of transcription for 1 hour of clear audio. At best, this would reduce the pay to $4 or $5 per hour. Take into consideration you are just starting, and the audio file may not be clear. This means it will take you longer to complete the transcription. This could reduce the hourly rate you receive even more!
The time it takes to transcribe a file depends on:
- the quality of the audio file
- whether there are background noises
- the speakers accents
- the number of speakers in the conversation
- the amount of research you have to do to find things such as place names or specialized terminology
This can result in low pay. But many people still start with companies like this to gain experience before starting their own transcription business.
If you stick it out with these platforms that accept beginners, there might be opportunities for higher-paying jobs down the road, but they often require special experience.
Are Transcriptionists in Demand?
At the moment, transcriptionists are in demand due to video becoming more and more popular. Many of these videos need captions to reach a wider audience or need to be transcribed to be used as website content, an ebook, or training.
I say at the moment because of the speech recognition software, that is gradually improving. However, currently, it is still a lot less accurate than human transcriptionists. The best speech-to-text software has 88% accuracy, while a human transcriptionist should have an accuracy of 97- 99%.
There are certain things automated transcription software can’t do:
- understand accents or dialects
- identify a number of speakers
- filter through background noise
- differentiate between homophones – to, too, two – pair, pare, pear…
So for the moment, transcribers have some bright days in front of them!
General transcriptionist jobs will probably grow faster than medical or legal transcriptionist jobs due to the reasons I mentioned above.
The Bureau of Labour Statistics expects the employment of medical transcriptionists to decline by about 3% between now and 2026. This is due to voice recognition software, electronic medical records, and outsourcing to foreign countries where the labor is cheaper. Legal transcriptionists can expect a growth rate of about 2% between 2014 and 2024.
5 Companies Offering Transcribing Jobs for Beginners
Here are 5 companies that offer jobs to beginners; there are many others. They all have similar requirements for starting and similar pay rates.
To join the following companies, you need no special equipment. Only a high-speed internet connection, a computer or desktop, and headphones are recommended.
To become a transcriber, you have to complete a test job. You read their guidelines and then transcribe a video. There are no requirements for you to type fast. They give you 6 hours to transcribe a 10 minutes audio file. The pay is up to $0.60 per audio or video minute. Average pay is $150 per month, with top transcribers earning $1215 per month.
Just a reminder – $0.60 per audio minute equates to pay for you of $0.15 per minute with a good quality audio file that is easy to understand or $9.00 per hour. This is the best-case scenario!
Rev offers not only transcriber jobs but also captioner, sub-titler, and translator jobs. The pay for transcriptionists is from $0.36 – $0.65 per audio minute. Average earnings are $245 per month, with top earners at $1495 per month. You have to pass a grammar test of 20 basic questions and a transcription test of a 3-minute audio file.
Another company that accepts newbie transcribers provided you pass their test of transcribing an audio file. Once accepted, you can start accepting work. Audio files are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can only accept one assignment at a time. Scribie provides you with an automated transcript of the audio file that you will have to correct. This can save you some time. The pay per audio hour varies from $5 to $25.
Another well-known transcribing company that offers jobs for beginners. Pay rates vary between $15 – $22 per audio hour. Average monthly earnings are $250, with the top earners at $2200 per month. To be accepted, you have to pass a test. TranscribeMe has general transcription jobs and also medical and legal jobs if you have a specialized background.
Daily Transcription accepts beginners but has more specific requirements. You have to pass a skills assessment test as well as a transcription test. You need a typing speed of at least 50wpm. You also need transcription software such as Express Scribe, which is a free download. A foot pedal is also recommended.
With these additional requirements, at least the pay is slightly better than the other platforms mentioned here, $0.75 – $0.85 per audio minute. Their top transcriptionists earn from $250 – $950 per week.
Besides the companies that deal solely with transcription work, you can also find transcription jobs on websites like – freelancer.com, upwork.com, or flexjobs.com.
Watch Out For Transcribing Job Scams
As with most online jobs, there are some companies that are out to scam you.
Beware of any companies that:
- promise thousands of dollars a day with no experience necessary
- use pressure tactics – only a few positions remaining or only available today
- use pop-ups trying to get you back to the site when you click to leave or to get your email address
- includes as seen on badges – CNN, MSNBC, Fox News… these badges are used to make the company seem legitimate
- turn you down after you fail their test but then offer you some paid training or certification
- charge you to join – legitimate companies don’t require any payment
Summing Up – Are Transcription Jobs For Beginners?
Becoming a transcriptionist is a legitimate work-from-home opportunity, and there are companies that make it possible for beginners to start. Bear in mind that starting out, you may not earn much.
But, on the other hand, you will be able to work from anywhere with internet connectivity.
The earnings you see advertised are per audio hour. The time it takes you to transcribe an hour of audio will be at least 4 hours and probably longer. This means many people are disappointed with the pay, and you may see complaints online about this.
So don’t go into this thinking you’ve found a way to earn a fortune online. You will earn little when you start, but with experience, you will become more efficient and learn where to find better-paying jobs.
If you think this may be a good match for you, be ready to give it some time. It’s a good opportunity to earn money from home with flexible hours.
If you want to earn more when you start, and you’re willing to spend a few months training, then Transcribe Anywhere could be a good course for you. You will quickly recuperate the price of the course and your time with your increased earnings. You can read my review here.
One of the great things about this business model is that you can create a blog around one of your hobbies or passions. So you will be writing about things you love!
Have you tried transcribing? Was it a good experience, and would you recommend transcribing for beginners? Let us know in the comments below.