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Guest Post: Getting Started as a Transcriptionist


photo by john_a_ward

Guest Post by the gals over at Transcription Talk

As a group
of three dedicated moms with 12 children between us, we’ve made it our
mission through our daily blog,
to help other moms not only get started working at home as
transcriptionists, but also to give them the tools to improve their
skills and speed so that they can earn more. Whereas many traditional
home-based business opportunities require significant cash to start,
you can get started doing general transcription for a very minimal

In the more than three years
that each of us have been doing this, we’ve grown our incomes beyond
what we ever dreamed was possible, and we’re now able to support our
families on our incomes alone, which we’ve each had to do in the past
year due to layoffs and the downturn in the economy.

While it’s
a lot of hard work and definitely not a “get rich quick scheme,”
we feel so blessed to have this wonderful source of income that provides
us with the opportunity to stay at home with our children.

Staying home to raise your children is only one of a number of benefits
that transcription can afford.  Others include:

  • The hours and workload are flexible.
  • There is good–if not great–earnings potential.
  • You’re always learning something new.
  • It is a growing field that is not showing signs of slowing down.

While the benefits are many,
success in this career will require hard work and perseverance on your
part. The most common misconception that a lot of people have
about transcription is that the only skill you need is the ability to

The truth is that there’s a lot more than that involved. In order to have a successful career as a transcriptionist, you need
to be able to listen, think and type at the same time. Additionally,
one of the most important skills needed is to be able to actually take
the spoken word and transcribe it in a way that fits grammar rules for
written language so that it actually makes sense to the person reading

If you’re just starting to
consider doing transcription work, this may seem overwhelming to you,
and that is not our intention. However, it’s important to know
that while you can make a decent living doing this work, it is not “easy
money.” It takes a lot of hard work to develop the skills needed
to succeed, and you must be committed to developing those skills or
you will most likely give up before you reach the point where you are
happy with your earnings.

So how do you get started? If you are interested in pursuing transcription as a career, here are
a few steps to get you headed in the right direction.

    • Find a pair of quality headphones.
    • Download Express Scribe and install Microsoft Word if it’s not already on your computer.
    • Brush up on your grammar rules.
    • Learn how to research words, names and terms online.
    • Download audio from a variety of sources and begin practicing.
    • Create or brush up your résumé and cover letter.
    • Begin applying as an independent contractor.
    • Look for projects on Guru, Elance and/or Craigslist.
    • Continue developing your skills and looking for ways to increase productivity.

Is transcription right for
you? We can’t determine that for you. But the benefits
of this
work-at-home job are plentiful, and with
dedication and hard work, there’s a good chance it’s the opportunity
you’re looking for.

Shaina will be launching
her new blog,
Food for My Family, where she’ll be sharing real food
for real families very soon.
You can also find Tara, mom of five, blogging at
Deal Seeking
, where
she shares freebies, steals and deals to help you make the most of your
budget, and Mandi, mom of three, blogging at
Doodles’ Place, where
she shares crafts, recipes and other activities for making the most
of every moment.

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  • Trixie says:


    What a terrific idea to help women! I think so many women fall into thinking work at home jobs are either scams or just easy money. Your blog clearly explains it is HARD work. But the flexibility can’t be beat.

    My husband and I run 3 home based businesses and I would have to say that while it is very hard work, the flexibility makes it SO worth the work.

    Take Care,


  • Tanya says:

    I went to school for this and worked as a transcriber for a little over a year. I would highly suggest people really look into this and read what other new MT/students are saying and how difficult it is for them to find jobs! in MY experience people always try to make this industry sound a lot easier than it really is. There is SO much more involved than just typing.

  • Phoebe says:

    Isn’t a college course or two also required?

  • I find it rather funny how often I have a conversation with someone and you have a post about what I was just talking about.

    At lunch today, my co-workers and I were discussing the possibility of working part-time or from home. I have 2 children who I would love to be home with more often, in addition to, having meals at a reasonable hour (most weekdays we don’t eat until after 7:30 p.m.). I have done transcription for years for my employers and didn’t even think about contracting myself out to do it as additional income.

    Thanks for this guest post!

  • Tonya says:

    I have been doing this since late in my pregnancy with my first daughter. I was pregnant before and miscarried. I would have had to work after that child woud have been born. I feel that the Lord had a higher purpose for the miscarriage because out of the blue, he gave the transcription opportunity to me. Ever since, I have been able to stay at home and raise by 2 daughters and doing work around their schedule. Sometimes it is hectic and chaotic and late nights, but it is all worth it to be able to see everything they experience. I was a medical assistant prior to doing transcription so I had some formal training and did transcription work in the doctor’s practice I worked for. You can make as little or as much as you have time for. I usually like to work a lot at nights during this time of year so that I can make extra Christmas money.

  • Cynthia says:

    I’m a writer and I can tell you that a good transcriptionist is hard to find. I’ve gone through several before I found a couple who can do a proper job in a decent amount of time.

    If you have a skill for this, you can earn some money but it’s not for everyone. You have to be a fast typist and have a good grasp of the English language. Accuracy is important as is building a relationship with those who hire you.

    The best transcriptionists go that extra mile to look up the proper spelling on names and words they don’t understand and they deliver clean copy that’s ready to be crafted into an article.

    It’s a nice little business if you enjoy the work.

  • Lorrie says:

    Thank you for this post. I have done some transcription in the past, and the company I was working went under. I LOVE to type. I really miss trascription work. Hopefully I can find some leads with this post.

  • marie says:

    Does anyone have any advice for someone who has never done transcription work, but would like to get into it? Do alot of places require experience?

  • Carrie says:

    Out of curiosity, I have a question for those who work in transcription: Are you seeing a lot of low-price competition on Elance and such sites from people based overseas? Or does being a native English speaker give you so much advantage that this is not an issue?

  • Nicole says:

    I graduated last year with an Associate’s Degree in Medical Transcription and I am still looking for work as a transcriptionist. Every work from home job I have seen posted says you need a year or more experience. I don’t know how I am suppose to get experience when no one will hire me without experience! Any suggestions or advice for me?

    Thanks for your awesome blog!

  • tish says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I do legal transcription, and have been looking for a blog and other websites dedicated to the profession. I get so frustrated when looking at craigslist et al for transcription jobs. “Must type XX wpm” Argh!! that hardly matters!! And many clients balk at your actual per hour charge versus per AUDIO hour. There’s quite a difference!

  • Kathie says:

    Thank you so much for this guest post. I’ve been contemplating this for the last eight months or so (since my first child, DD, was born). I really want to work from home and was highly considering this because I LOVE to type. I just didnt know where/how to start. THANKS!

  • Emily says:

    I have been doing general transcription for almost 2 years now! It allowed me to leave my FT job to stay home with my 2 kids. I love it because it’s flexible and I can work when the kids are sleeping or dad is home to take care of them. I can take as much or as little work as I want. I can work weekends – or not. I got my first job through, as the article suggested. Another key is to contract through 2 or 3 companies if you can, so you always have steady work. I would highly recommend general transcription to anyone – since you don’t need to know legal or medical terms, there is no specific education or certification needed. You can do things like insurance reports, Senate hearings, teleseminars, etc. I just started a blog dedicated to helping people figure this stuff out and I am totally linking to this article! Thanks MSM!

  • Christie says:

    I am a nurse who started having some medical issues earlier this spring. The Lord just dropped a home medical transcription job in my lap. It has allowed me to stay at home with my children and to help heal my body while still providing a very decent income to help out our family finances.
    I would say that if a person is looking to start medical transcription specifically, they would greatly benefit from a medical terminology class at a local community college. It really can be like typing a foreign language if you are not familiar with the terminology. It is also helpful to have a good grasp of proper grammer and punctuation.
    I am a sub-contractor along with 9 other local women. The main contractor works very hard to procure and maintain the contracts with the various physician offices that we type. She also deals with all of the administrative issues such as keeping in communication with the offices, scheduling, and dividing up the work among the rest of us. We collectively type for 5 different multi-physician practices, so we keep very busy.
    This has been a HUGE blessing in my life this year and while it can be a lot of hard work the benefit is truly worth it! I have the flexibility to do my work when it fits into my daily schedule, such as when my kids are napping or after they are tucked into bed at night.

  • Carolyn says:

    Nicole – Does the school you graduated from have a placement office? Get in touch with them to see what they can do to help. You may need to consider working outside the home for a while to get that experience before transitioning to online work at home. Also check or There are a few companies that hire transcriptionist without experience, but I would also encourage you to be aggressive in contacting companies and testing online. One place I interviewed with was stressing they wanted experience in the hospital “basic 4” (admission notes, ER notes, discharge summaries and history and physicals), and the recruiter said I didn’t qualify. Nope, I only had 15+ years of multispecialty clinical experience and had done the “basic 4” but hadn’t been employed by a hospital. I just sold myself, sold my experience and abilities and told her that they would have to train anyone to their specifics docs and platforms and that I thought I deserved a chance. She had to agree and offered me a job. So be sure to play up your strengths and your degree. You technically have experience and should have references from your instructors. If you have a chance to take the CMT certification test, that would help also. It is a discouraging cycle. Employers want experience, but it’s hard to find someone to hire you to get that experience! Did you have an internship during your studies? That would count. Again, don’t discount the option of local doctors. You might even market yourself starting out as coverage for vacations and maternity leaves, etc. You could go door-to-door with your resume and a marketing flyer or mail them. Just an idea. Good luck!

  • Julie says:

    I worked as a transcriptionist for a workers’ compensation defense attorney for a year. One thing I would mention that might not be obvious: you need to budget regular massage and chiropractic treatments. To keep your hands (and foot, if using a foot-pedal machine), shoulders, and neck from permanent injury. No one thinks of jobs like these as manual labor until the pain kicks in. Preventive bodywork is the best way around this, otherwise you may be forced to suddenly quit a job down the line due to RSI issues. Thankfully – I now work for ShoreBank getting the word out about their high-yield savings account (there’s info here: with 3.5% interest. I’m happy to work for them over the worker’s comp attorney as they have a long history of supporting community development in underserved neighborhoods and it feels good to know that by asking people to invest their money I’m doing something good for their pocketbooks and good for the community as well.

  • Sarah says:

    Another place to find work might be through local universities. I’ve never worked as a transcriptionist, but I sure spent a lot of hours transcribing interviews for my graduate work. Professors and graduate students will often hire people to transcribe interviews and focus groups. I’m not sure how the pay compares with other places but I wanted to throw the idea out there. I don’t know if there are established ways to get connected there, but I’d recommend getting in touch with professors, especially ones teaching qualitative research methods courses or in social science disciplines and put the word out that you are available for transcription. Fluency in another language is also useful for research with different groups in the U.S. or for international research.

  • Kristen says:

    I came to your blog today looking for CVS and Wags deals. Low and behold, this is the 2nd time this week I’ve come across something re: transcribing. I can not get an outside of the home job due to a severely disabled husband, 19 month old twins and 2 other children. I was an english major in college and last time was tested had an incredible wpm typing rate. I’m definately going to take a look at the blog and want to thank you for this post!!

  • My wife is looking to get into doing something from home so she can stay with our two young boys. This would help to alleviate some financial pressures from my income. Thanks for the post!

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