How Much Should You Pay For Transcription? Factors That Affect Transcription Rates

Here at Ditto Transcripts, we are proud of our fair and transparent costs. We offer standard rates of $1.75 per audio minute and three to five days turnaround times for general transcription. Aside from that, we offer faster deliveries for rush jobs and more economical prices to fit tighter budgets. These are affordable and competitive rates, and sometimes, there are some instances where they can change. 

In this article, you’ll learn how: 

  • Transcription rates per audio minute are the standard pricing models for most companies. Around 85% of transcription providers operate on a pay-per-minute rather than charging by the hour. Standard rates for professional transcription per minute starts at $1.50. However, transcription companies can charge clients using different structures like per hour, per word, or with a flat rate. The rates for medical transcription are usually charged per line. 
  • The cost of transcription varies depending on factors like audio quality, turnaround time, whether they use US or foreign-based transcriptionists, if AI software is used, and the complexity of the content.
  • Transcription agencies need to be transparent with their pricing. Here at Ditto, we’re more than happy to discuss transcription costs with clients prior to any work. 

How Long Does It Take To Transcribe 1 Hour Of Audio?

Before we discuss pricing, we need to understand how long it takes to transcribe audio.

Professional transcriptionists usually take three to four hours to convert an hour’s worth of audio or video into text. 

However, the average time can be different for each instance. Not all audio files are created equal, and certain factors can affect the time it takes to make accurate transcripts—and the same factors also affect transcription costs. Let’s talk about them next. 

Factors That Affect Transcription Rates

Many businesses use transcription services for their laundry list of advantages they provide. However, choosing the wrong transcription provider (like the ones that would charge hidden fees, use AI software, foreign-based workers, or offer lower rates with commensurately low-quality results) can be more trouble than it’s worth. 

Transcription prices are subject to several factors, and clients must be aware of such factors, as addressing these concerns upfront can reduce transcription costs in the long run. 

Audio QualityOne of the biggest challenges when transcribing audio recordings is the quality of the file itself. Poor audio quality, background noise, or low speaker volume can significantly increase the time and effort required to transcribe the audio accurately. Transcriptionists often charge extra on top of their typical rates for poor audio files.
Number of SpeakersMultiple speakers can make it harder to transcribe audio and video files, so clients can expect to pay higher transcription fees for such recordings. This is because transcriptions with multiple speakers can be harder, especially if speakers talk over each other or if the conversation is fast-paced. This can often be seen in transcribing interviews with many respondents, recordings of court cases, or business meetings.
Turnaround TimesThe rates for transcription services are subject to change when clients prefer different turnaround times. Transcription jobs are often completed and submitted between three to five business days. Opting for longer turnaround times (between six to ten business days) can lower your transcription fees. Faster turnaround times (one to two business days) also have different rates.
Automated TranscriptionDifferent types of transcription processes are available, like ones that use speech-to-text transcription software for automated transcription. These are cheaper than regular human-powered transcription. However, automated machine transcription misses the “accurate” part of accurate and fast transcription services by a big margin. Specifically, they miss about 14%, as even the best AI transcription software can only reach 86% accuracy.
Extra ServicesAdditional services like verbatim transcription or timestamping may incur extra charges. These requirements need to be communicated to your transcription provider prior to any work for clearer pricing.

Less Common Transcription Cost Structures

Many transcription services charge per minute of audio for general and specialized types of transcription. Medical transcription is charged per line which is a standard pricing model in the transcription industry. 

However, some transcription companies charge clients differently, and knowing these can help you determine exactly how much you need to pay. 

Per Word Billing

This type of billing is based on the total number of words transcribed. The total charge is calculated by counting every word on the completed transcript. Per-word billing may offer flexibility for different content types but may not be the best choice for clients looking for verbatim transcription. The number of speakers may also impact the total bill. As a result, per audio minute is the better choice for these types of transcription. 

Per Hour Billing

Per audio hour billing is based on the time spent producing the completed transcript, including listening to recordings, transcribing, editing, and proofreading. For example, some transcriptionists charge different rates per hour of work for different transcription types. This type of billing can be more expensive the more complex the transcription task is.

Additionally, hourly rate billing doesn’t exactly promote efficiency for any transcriptionist. Providers have no incentive to finish projects quickly, which can increase the total transcription cost for the client.

Per Keystroke

Keystroke billing is calculated by counting every press of the button a transcriber makes during transcription. This is a finer, more granular billing method compared to per word or line. 

However, the provider may have a different definition of “keystroke” than the client. For example, are caps lock or shift included? Additionally, this type of billing requires specialized software, which can increase the total cost for the client. Audio and video transcription services don’t usually charge per keystroke, but confirming beforehand is better. 

Flat Rate Billing

For this transcription type, a fixed fee is charged for a specific amount of work or services. For example, a provider can charge $XX for X completed transcripts. This simplified billing method charges a minimum rate regardless of audio quality, number of speakers, etc. It may look more affordable and is better for simple transcription projects. 

Unfortunately, this simplicity is also a problem. Being inflexible, the method may cause overcharging or undercharging, depending on the volume of work, and may not be great for quick turnaround times. 

Ditto’s Fair & Transparent Transcription Fees

As mentioned earlier, we want to be clear and upfront when it comes to costs. Ditto’s pricing structure for general, business, legal, law enforcement, and academic transcription are as follows: 

legal transcription prices

This is how we break down each category: 

Category A:

  • Single-person narrative or standard one-on-one interview recorded in digital format (video or audio files)
  • This includes audio or video files with little to no background noise, easy-to-understand accents and dialects, and clear audio. 
  • Prices start at $1.50 rate per audio minute for extended (6-10 business days) pricing. 

Category B:

  • Any audio with three or more people, any audio with significant noise in the background, and any audio with voices that are difficult to understand (i.e., poor recording, soft voices, etc. 
  • The difficulty of transcribing these challenging audio recordings results in a higher rate. Still, our prices are at the average transcription rates for the industry. 

For more clarity, you can contact us about your transcription needs. You can also calculate your transcription charges using our calculator.

Disclaimer: Ditto Transcripts has the right to increase our general transcription rates at any time without any prior obligation due to poor audio files, verbatim transcription requests, and more. Audio difficulties may be construed as poor quality, in-and-out fading, low-speaking voices, muffled background noises, speakers from long distances, etc.

Should pricing require an adjustment, we will inform you ahead of time of any rate increase before proceeding with your audio and video file(s).

The general transcription rates listed above do NOT include state of Colorado DMV transcripts. Transcription pricing for state of Colorado DMV transcripts is $3.50/page.

Verbatim Transcription

We charge a higher rate for verbatim transcripts, which comes at an additional $0.25 per audio minute. 


Time stamps are charged an additional $0.25 per audio minute. 

Document-to-Document Typing 

Ditto also offers document-to-document typing services. This type of service is billed per typed page, with charges starting at $0.50 per page. 

This is more expensive! Why? 

Transcription is more than just finding someone with basic typing skills. While it’s true that some transcription providers offer cheaper rates, those don’t come with the advantages Ditto Transcripts offers. 

All our transcriptionists are U.S.-based native English speakers, making them inherently better at understanding the complexity and nuance of the language. On top of that, they are college-educated and are experts with years of proven experience in their respective transcription fields. That’s why we’re confident in offering 99% accuracy guarantees. 

Furthermore, our pre-employment tests are some of the most difficult in the industry, and we only hire those who pass with flying colors. All our transcriptionists have passed rigorous criminal background tests, and they uphold our security protocols to the letter. Our transcriptionists produce quality results every time and are compensated fairly for their skills and expertise. 

That’s why here at Ditto, we don’t do cheap; we do affordable. 

Ditto’s Medical Transcription Service Pricing Structure

Here at Ditto, medical transcription is 7-14 cents per line. Per-line pricing means charging a client per predetermined line in a completed transcript. $0.07 – $0.14 per line is the industry standard price for medical transcription.

A standard medical transcription line, as defined by the Association for Healthcare Documentation or AHDI, is 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation. To bill clients, we take a completed transcript, run a character count including spaces, and divide that by 65 to get the total number of lines. 

Medical transcription pricing options according to turnaround times

  • 7 cents per line for 72-hour turnaround times
  • 10 cents per line for standard 24-hour TAT
  • 14 cents per line for STAT files (4-hour turnaround time)

EHR and EMR transcription pricing

  • Flat rates between $0.25 and $3.00 per report
  • We can also do the per-line rates listed above if there is a line counter within your EHR or EMR

LIS and PACs transcription pricing

  • Flat rates between $0.25 and $3.00 per report
  • We can also do the per-line rates listed above if there is a line counter within your LIS or PACs system

Lower Your Transcription Fees With Ditto Transcripts

One of the best ways we help our clients with their transcription costs is by having an in-depth discussion with them before we commit to any charges. We won’t upsell or place clients in categories that don’t fit their needs. We also don’t have any hidden charges, and any changes in cost will be communicated to you ahead of time. 

So, let’s get started. Call us about pricing at (720) 287-3710. We’re open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (MST) Monday through Friday.

Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA-compliant and CJIS-compliant Denver, Colorado-based academic transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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