The Best Transcription Jobs In 2023 Ranked in Order
Does earning $50,000 annually or more as a full-time transcriptionist appeal to you? If so, here’s what you’ll need to know about getting the different kinds of transcriptionist jobs available.
Starting a financially and professionally rewarding career from the comfort of your home has never been easier. Suppose your typing and listening skills are above average, or you are motivated to improve them. In that case, working as a freelance transcriptionist or an independent contractor in the exciting transcription industry may be ideal for you.
I started Ditto Transcripts in Denver, Colorado, over 11 years ago with the desire to create the absolute best transcription services company in the United States. That’s why I hire and use the best transcriptionists with a superior command of the English language.
To accomplish this objective, I realized I need to recruit and train transcribers who are motivated to consistently improve their transcription skills and, ultimately, their income.
As with most skilled occupations, working as a transcriber involves a slight learning curve and excellent typing speed. You’ll also need to invest in the proper equipment. Compared to other available jobs, most individuals find the tools necessary to start a career as a transcriber are affordable and simple to learn with practice and experience.
Types of Transcription Jobs
A transcriber listens to an audio file and transcribes it into a legible and understandable format. Sometimes transcribers will watch a video to transcribe what was said and by whom if it’s available and necessary for accuracy’s sake.
The four primary categories of transcription jobs are:
- General Transcription Services – academic research, audio memoirs, podcasts, business meetings, etc.
- Legal Transcription Services – depositions, court proceedings, search warrants, etc.
- Law enforcement Transcription Services – witness and suspect interviews, jail calls, 911 calls, etc.
- Medical Transcription Services- physician notes, medical charts, x-rays, etc.
Since general transcription jobs usually require less detail, the pay is lower. However, general transcription jobs are best for beginners and allow you to develop your skills on subjects that aren’t as difficult as others.
Unfortunately, many medical transcription jobs have been commoditized by foreign companies. This is unfortunate because properly completed medical charts and physician notes can prove critical in advanced medical cases. Transcribing notes for medical charts is time-consuming for both the practitioner and the transcriber.
Some physician practice groups and medical facilities have retained foreign companies that use transcribers who don’t have an excellent command of English or understand the American medical industry. Often they spend more time and money to correct errors than they have paid to get the original dictation transcribed properly. Using Artificial Intelligence transcription programs for medical needs often leads to a higher incidence of errors. Medical transcription jobs come with a great deal of responsibility. Because of this many companies will require new people to be to pass a skills assessment test in order to even be considered for employment.
Legal and law enforcement transcription services must be performed by U.S. based companies who run criminal background checks on our U.S. based transcribers. These jobs require a higher level of experience and in most cases, special attention to confidentiality and security. Because of the importance of capturing precisely what and how something was said, these jobs almost always pay more than that medical and general transcription jobs pay.
The Best Transcription Jobs Ranked
Now that you know about the various transcription jobs out there, I will rank them from best to worst. Ditto Transcripts serves clients of all types. We’re happy to work with anyone who desires quality work at a fair rate, so knowing that here you go:
- Legal and Law Enforcement – I think these two types of transcription jobs are the best for two reasons. The demand for quality and professionalism, and the fact that AI and foreign competition can’t do this work well. Law enforcement agencies interview suspects and witnesses daily. It’s imperative that these audio files be transcribed by an experienced transcriber who can capture every single syllable and sound while being CJIS compliant. Audio files recorded in legal dispositions or hearings are another example. Transcribing these files correctly is critical. Imagine if you are part of legal proceedings and your case depended on how well an audio file is transcribed. Do you prefer that a U.S. based transcription company such as Ditto Transcripts, who hires the best U.S. based legal transcriptionists, transcribe your file?
- General – At Ditto Transcripts, we work with several academic institutions and companies that fall into this category. Some require non-verbatim transcriptions, while others prefer verbatim. Examples of general transcriptions include speeches, podcast episodes, business meetings, etc. Many of the large, foreign-based companies specialize in general transcription. That’s one reason they hire new and inexperienced transcribers. However, in my experience, the quality of their work isn’t very high. We expect an accuracy rate of 99 percent or higher at Ditto Transcripts. Inexperienced transcribers or companies that tout Artificial Intelligence programs deliver transcriptions with accuracy rates in the 50 percent range or lower. We feel accuracy percentages that low are unacceptable to our clientele.
- Medical – Once the best type of transcription work, unfortunately, most medical work is done by the provider themselves or farmed out to a foreign-based company that doesn’t understand complex medical terminology or the U.S. healthcare system. When medical practices attempt to save a few pennies by paying for inferior transcription services, the actual costs are often much more expensive when paying their employees to edit it. Since medical transcription has been commoditized by overseas competition, and the executives within many healthcare systems look solely at the bottom line, I rank medical projects as the least preferred type of transcription work for most U.S. transcribers. However, you can always master the art of transcription to become an expert in this specialized field, and later, you can easily find transcription jobs.
The information above clearly demonstrates why and how we ranked the most common U.S. transcription jobs in the order we did. If you have any feedback or want additional information, let us know, and good luck in finding the transcription job that’s right for you.
The Two Primary Types of Transcription: Verbatim and Non-Verbatim
There are two primary ways to transcribe: verbatim and non-verbatim.
Verbatim transcription requires the transcriber to transcribe every single sound made on the recording. It could be by one or more individuals, depending on the kind of audio file they are listening to. This includes ums, ahs, false starts, etc.
Law enforcement agencies and law firms often require verbatim transcripts to ensure what was said and how it was said are officially recorded for others to review via text. Judges, district attorneys, and the public often read transcripts because reading is faster than listening to an audio or watching a video of the recording.
This kind of transcription job, transcribing a file verbatim, almost always pays more as well because it takes longer. It can sometimes take a transcriptionist 50% more time to transcribe audio or video files verbatim, because they have to included everything they hear and that takes time to make sure you get it right.
Non-verbatim transcription, sometimes called cleaned up verbatim, doesn’t require as much detail because you leave out the ums, ahs, and false starts. For example, transcribing every sound or detail isn’t necessary as capturing complete words and phrases is the priority.
These jobs, transcribing non-verbatim, are much more straightforward, because you type less and don’t have to go back and relisten to see how many times someone said um or ah. They can sometimes pay less than verbatim transcriptions for most companies.
What Type of Equipment Does a Transcriber Need?
Whether working as an independent contractor or a freelancer, getting started as a transcriber can be simple. First, you’ll need some good transcription equipment. This will include a desktop or laptop computer with sufficient RAM (8 GB minimum) and storage (128 GB). Access to high-speed internet is extremely important as you will sometimes be working with very large files. Download speeds of at least 10mpbs are preferred. I highly recommend download speeds of 100mpbs or more if available and affordable for you.
The type of software required usually depends on which company retains your services. Microsoft Word is commonly used and is available by subscription online. Google Chrome is the most common browser used by transcriptionists. I also recommend transcription software by NCH Software called Express Scribe.
Next, I recommend a high-quality and comfortable keyboard. If you can afford it buy a mechanical keyboard, as they are softer on your hands, writs, and fingers. Over time you will appreciate what the mechanical keyboard can do if you have any pain whatsoever while typing.
Two other very important pieces of equipment accomplished transcribers use are a foot pedal and good headphones. Moreover, you can either use over-the-ear headphones or in-ear headphones. We reocmmend you check out a foot pedal by Infinity, the USB Digital Foot Control and the ECS OHUSB Wordslinger Deluxe Overhead USB Transcription Headset.
You don’t need all the equipment I discussed to start your transcription career; however adding some or all of these tools will allow you to become more efficient and earn more money per hour faster. Still not sure which equipment to get? Check out our detailed guide here.
What Skills to Have As a Transcriber
Earlier I mentioned the importance of typing skills and listening skills. A proficient transcriber must type at least 65 words per minute (wpm) with a 99 percent accuracy rate. Some of our best transcribers type more than 75 wpm with 99 percent or higher accuracy rates. Don’t let these numbers intimidate you. With focus and practice, you can quickly improve your typing speed. Consider taking a typing test for practice and be comfortable with the transcription process. Your basic knowledge of using Microsoft Office is a plus!
The ability to focus and listen intently is critical. Sometimes an audio you’re transcribing will have multiple people speaking, often at the same time or over one another. For example, the ability to listen intently is imperative if you’re transcribing a law enforcement interview where the suspect doesn’t speak English well or frequently uses slang words and phrases.
How Much Do Transcriptionists Make?
Everything we’ve covered in this article is essential if you desire to make money transcribing audio. Now let’s get down to how much money you can make as a transcriptionist in 2023.
An average rate for a beginning transcriptionist is around $10 per hour. In this respect, the opportunity to double these average pay rates is realistic with practice and time. Most transcribers get paid by the audio minute these days. However, some still get paid by the line (medical transcription) or page (legal transcription). Learn how to become a highly in-demand transcriptionist in medicine!
It will probably take you about three hours to transcribe a 30-minute audio as a brand-new rookie transcriptionist. An experienced transcriptionist will transcribe the same file in an hour and a half. There are several variables, including your individual skill level, the quality of the file you’re transcribing, and the equipment you use that will impact your speed.
A transcriber with 2-3 years of experience working full-time can make $50,000 or more in 2023. Ditto Transcripts pays our freelance transcribers twice a month on the 1st and 15th, either by direct deposit, Venmo, or PayPal.
How to Become an at Home Transcriptionist in 2023
Looking for at-home job opportunities? Achieving fast typing speed is the initial requirement for becoming a transcriptionist. If you have a strong grasp of a foreign language, it can be a plus if you want to do translation as well as transcription.
There are several free online typing programs that will help you develop and improve your skills, which you should consider if you are totally new to transcription. This way you can prepare as much as you need to in order to find freelance transcription jobs when you are ready.
Applying for Transcription Jobs
Once you’re comfortable that you can type well enough to transcribe real audio files, start by applying to as many online transcription jobs for beginners as possible. Many of the jobs for beginners can be found on any popular job board. More specifically, look for transcription jobs for beginners.
Most companies will require you to email them a cover letter and your resume. Finding transcription jobs online can be a great way to make extra money on the side, and it can be a great way to gain experience in the field. When you are ready you need to start to keep an eye on job postings in the freelance marketplace websites.
Although transcribing jobs are simple and typically require no experience, they can be repetitive and tiresome sometimes. They do come with the flexibility to work your own schedule though, so you have the freedom to set your own working hours.
You can also apply to foreign transcription companies however, I do recommend you focus and apply to U.S. based transcription companies. Working for a US based company will make filing your taxes cheaper and more manageable once you get an online transcription job. You will more than likely be required to take a basic transcription test before getting started with home transcription jobs. Luckily, the transcription test can be easy if you have prepared properly. Many of them are more like a skills test focused on assessing your typing and critical thinking skills.
Once you obtain experience and want to work for a more specialized transcription company such as Ditto Transcripts (formerly Transcription Outsourcing), then please complete our online employment form.
Ultimately, getting transcriptionist jobs can be easy if you are willing to start at a lower pay rate. It is undoubtedly a rewarding career choice for many these days.