What Is a Transcriptionist? How Do You Become One?

​​​​​As remote work becomes more prevalent, seeking a flexible yet lucrative career has become a popular choice for professionals. Becoming a transcriptionist offers you the freedom to decide your own workload, set your work hours, and the opportunity to earn a decent living from home.

If it sounds like a career choice you would want to pursue, let’s dive into what it takes to become a transcriptionist and how you can achieve success in the role.

Who Is a Transcriptionist? What Do They Do?

As the name suggests, a transcriptionist, also known as a transcriber, listens to audio or video files and converts them into a written text format that can be stored in documents. The audio or video files can include live shows, interviews, podcasts, lectures, corporate meetings, legal proceedings, and a wide range of events.

Becoming a transcriptionist is one of the best remote careers for entry-level professionals. For the role, you’ll need a working laptop, a reliable internet connection, noise-canceling headphones, and a dedicated quiet workspace to get started. However, many transcriptionists use a variety of word-processing software programs and technical equipment that helps them control audio or video playback and facilitate their work.

Before pursuing any career option, it’s important to understand the responsibilities of the role. Let’s take a look at the core responsibilities of a transcriptionist:

  • Listening to live recordings or pre-recorded audio or video files.
  • Close attention to detail and accurate documentation of media files.
  • Proofread documents for any grammatical mistakes or errors.
  • Understanding client requirements and following the necessary specifications for transcription.
  • Follow the guidelines provided for keeping transcriptions confidential.
  • Meeting all deadlines and submitting accurate transcriptions on time.

It’s important to note that a few companies might require you to type word-to-word what you hear, while some may require a completely modified version of what you hear, depending on their guidelines. Some client requirements might also include editing existing transcriptions to improve poor-quality recordings.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Transcriptionist?


When shortlisting candidates for roles, many employers look for relevant skills. Learning the skills required for the role will help you be prepared for the role, and adding them to your resume will make you stand out among other applicants. Here are some core skills you need to become a transcriptionist:

1. Active Listening

As the role involves transcribing conversations from audio or video files, active listening becomes an important skill. Listen to some sample recordings and practice writing down the words spoken as you hear them. While practicing, understand every word, pause, dialect, and tone of the speaker in the recording and make a note of it.

2. Typing Accuracy and Speed

A transcriptionist must be able to document accurately to produce quality transcriptions. While typing accuracy is important, typing speed is essential too for meeting your deadlines. Make sure you have a typing speed of at least 40-50 words per minute to document your recordings as you listen.

3. Computer Proficiency

The role requires basic computer proficiency to get started. Be familiar with Microsoft Office Suite, Google Workspace, and other common applications to make your work easier.

4. Excellent Written Communication Skills

For creating quality transcribed documents, it’s essential to have excellent written communication skills. Ensure you develop a wide vocabulary and record error-free and grammatically correct documents. Here are some of the best tips to help you improve your written communication.

5. Time Management

Transcriptionists must manage their time well, since some clients may need their files transcribed within hours. You can use these free, quick, and amazing time-tracking tools to boost your productivity and manage your time better.

6. Attention to Detail

For accurate transcription, having attention to detail is essential to improve on. Enhanced attention to detail will help you produce quality work and maintain your performance consistently.

Here’s How You Can Become a Successful Transcriptionist

transcriptionist working on a document

According to Payscale, the average salary of a transcriptionist is around $50k per year, or $16.69 per hour. While the legal and medical sectors are where transcription services are in high demand, several organizations in the business, academic, mass communication sectors, and more also require transcription services.

Here are a few tips to help you become a successful transcriptionist:

1. Pursue an Education

There is no specific qualification to enter the transcription industry. A high school qualification or equivalent should suffice for entry into this field.

2. Find Your Niche and Industry to Work

As there is no specific qualification required to enter the transcription industry, finding your niche is the first step to getting a job as a transcriptionist. As a transcriptionist, you can work in various industries, including legal, medical, business, entertainment, mass communication, and more.

Choose the niche you relate to most and are interested in pursuing to get the most out of your transcription career. Further, you can earn a degree in the same field to gain expertise and stand out when applying for roles.

3. Upskill With Online Courses

You can upskill yourself with online courses. Choosing the right online courses is the key to success in any industry. You can learn about transcription from the best online learning platforms like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and more.

Here are some courses to help you get started:

4. Gain Industry Experience

Gaining some industry experience through freelance, part-time jobs, or internship opportunities will keep you ahead of other applicants and help you get a better idea of the role. Apply to the best job search portals like LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, and more to get your desired role.

As most of the opportunities in the transcription industry are remote, you can also look for roles on the best job websites to find remote work.

5. Leverage Various Online Tools to Facilitate Your Work

With various online tools available, you can make the transcription process easy. Express Scribe is one of the popular online tools to help you transcribe your audio recordings. It allows you to control the audio using your keyboard or transcribing pedals and improve your workflow.

Similarly, you can also try free audio conversion apps for Windows. Although they might not be completely accurate, they will certainly assist you in the transcription process and save you some time.

Take the First Step Towards Your Transcription Career

Transcription is still in demand and is one of the best jobs if you’re looking for a flexible career opportunity. Furthermore, if you’re still a student or looking for a side hustle, the role could be a great way to earn some extra income. Ensure you follow all the tips mentioned in the article to make the best out of your transcription career.

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