The Best Transcription Jobs In 2021 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.
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 in the exciting transcription industry may be ideal for you.
I started Transcription Outsourcing, LLC 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 only the best transcriptionists with a superior command of the English language.
To accomplish this objective, I realized I would 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 skills. You’ll also need to invest in the proper equipment. Compared to other 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 to correct errors than they would have paid to have the original project transcribed properly. Using Artificial Intelligence transcription programs for medical needs often leads to a higher incidence of errors.
Legal and law enforcement transcription services must be performed by U.S. based companies who use 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 of medical and general transcription.
The Best Transcription Jobs Ranked
Now that you know about the various transcription jobs out there, I will rank them from best to worst. Transcription Outsourcing 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, all the 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. Wouldn’t you prefer that a U.S. based transcription company such as Transcription Outsourcing, who only hires the best U.S. based legal transcriptionists, transcribe your file?
- General – At Transcription Outsourcing, 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 transcription 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 Transcription Outsourcing. 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 medical 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 only at the bottom line, I rank medical projects as the least preferred type of transcription work for most U.S. transcribers.
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
Verbatim transcription requires the transcriber to transcribe every single sound made by one or more individuals. 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. These jobs, verbatim transcripts, almost always pay more as well.
Non-verbatim transcription 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 are more straightforward and obviously pay less than verbatim transcriptions for most companies.
What Type of Equipment Does a Transcriber Need?
Getting started as a transcriber is simple. First, you’ll need a desktop or laptop computer with sufficient RAM and adequate storage. Access to high-speed internet is also essential. Download speeds of at least 10mpbs are preferred. I would highly recommend download speeds of 100mpbs or more if available and affordable.
The type of software required usually depends on which company retains your services. Microsoft Word is commonly used and is available by subscription. 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. Two other pieces of equipment used by accomplished transcribers are a foot pedal and headset. Check out the Infinity 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, but adding some or all of these tools will allow you to become more efficient and earn more money per hour.
What Skills Should I Have As a Transcriber
Earlier I mentioned the importance of typing and listening skills. A proficient transcriber should 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 skills.
The ability to focus and listen intently is critical. Sometimes an audio file you’re transcribing will have multiple people speaking, often at the same time or over one another. For example, if you’re transcribing a law enforcement interview where the suspect doesn’t speak English well or frequently uses slang words and phrases, the ability to listen intently is imperative.
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 2021.
An average rate for a beginning transcriptionist is around $10 per hour. But wait, the opportunity to double this average rate 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).
It will probably take about three hours to transcribe a 30-minute audio file 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 and working full-time can make $50,000 or more in 2021. Transcription Outsourcing pays our freelance transcribers twice a month on the 1st and 15th, either by direct deposit or PayPal.
How to Become an at Home Transcriptionist in 2021
The first step to becoming a transcriptionist is adequate typing skills. Several free online typing programs will help you develop and improve your skills.
Once you’re comfortable that you can type well enough to transcribe audio files, start by applying to as many transcription companies as possible. I do recommend you focus and apply only to U.S. based transcription companies to make filing your taxes cheaper and more manageable.
Once you obtain experience and want to work for a more specialized company such as Transcription Outsourcing, then please complete our online employment form.