How to Work from Home as a Transcriptionist

How to Work from Home as a Transcriptionist

So you are looking for something that you can do from home? Something simple that can fit around your lifestyle.

Transcription. That’s the ticket

This article will help you find out how to work from home as a transcriptionist. What it actually is, how it works and how you can find work in this field, and if it really does fit the bill.


What is a transcriptionist?

Working as a transcriptionist from home is quite a popular choice, in fact it was one of the first things I thought about when I wanted to work from home. But I didn’t know how to get started.

Generally there are no qualifications required, You just need to know where to look for work and just be a little prepared.

(This article is focussing on general transcription work and not medical transcription. You do need training for medical transcription work and it is slightly different so I have left this option out of the article).

Transcription is all about transferring something from an audio file to a written digital file (such as MS word)

So you listen to an audio file and type it out as you hear it. As you can imagine it is really important that you can type fast and that you can type correctly.

With this type of work there is usually a fairly quick turn around time for work. Some agencies say as little as 2 hours, some say 48 hours. It depends on each individual job. So if you accept a particular task you will need to make sure that you are available to work on it there and then and turn in around in the time allotted. They are very strict with this. So this might be a key consideration if deciding if this is the right path for you.

Normally you will have a test or a quiz to take in order to qualify so that they can test your ability, your spelling and your grammar.

What is a Transcriptionist?


What experience do you need?

Specific experience isn’t a pre-requisite for a transcription job. But you will need to be able to do a few things:

  • A good command of the English language, you must know how to use grammar correctly, be strong on punctuation and be able to spot your mistakes to provide perfect documents.
  • You need a fast typing speed of about 40-60 wpm (words per minute). You don’t need any special training in this. These days a lot of people can type this fast just because they are constantly on computers. Time yourself and see where you are at. You might be surprised!
  • The ability to think around it. If there is a word that doens’t make sense or that pershaps you don’t know, you need to be able to look it up to see if it is in context. And then you need to make sure you are using the right derivation of the word for the sentence. This ability to add value is helpful. Although be careful not to go too far with this. You don’t want to be re-writing things because you don’t like the sound of it. This is not an editors job!
  • You will need to be organised and punctual. As I mentioned, returning work on time is key to success with this business. There is no room for late work.


Where can I find transcription work?

There are several places online where you can apply directly for transcription work. Here are just a few to get you started. These are companies that focus purely on transcription and my best bet for the widest selection of opportunities  This business is also combined with other similar transcription businesses such as Idictate and Rent-a-phone, and has some really high end clients. You can sign up for work here  This is a global transcriptions company and accepts applicants across the globe. They have a very professional service and are well respected.  You can get to their site here 

Scribie:  You can get around $10 a hour with this company, and again you are working on a freelance basis. They pride themselves on quick turnaround and quality work which is reviewed by supervisors. So you have to be quick and tasks are available to those who get there first. You start off as a transcriber and if you work is good you are able to move up to being a reviewer.  You can sign up here 

Speechpad: One of the slightly better payers, starting off around $15 per hour. This is based on the timing of the audio file. This obviously varies by task and they hire people from all over the world. Register for work here

TranscribeMe: One of the better known transcribers starting at $20 per hour. Again based on the timing of the audio file rather than how long it takes you to do it. Register for work right here 


What equipment do I need as a transcriber?

There isn’t much overhead as a transcriber so it’s a great one to get started as a work form home business. You will probably need a transcription pack with software, headphones and pedal, but that’s it… see below.

Everything else you need is what you would need to start ANY home business.

  • Computer with MicroSoft Officetranscription software
  • Good internet connection for receiving files
  • Antivirus software to ensure that the documentation and files remain safe
  • A headset or headphones to listen to the files
  • Software which allows the dictation files to be opened and listened to. Transcribing software also offers valuable features for typists including variable speed playback, multi-channel control, playing video, file management, and more. This is the main cost but you can pick up a set with software, headphones and pedal for $89 or so at Amazon
  • Some people recommend a foot pedal which allows you to stop and start the audio file making transcription easier so you don’t have to exit your file to stop and start the audio. This is normally integrated with the software so they work together. The package above has headphones, foot pedal and the software together. If you are serious about this, I would recommend investing.

Importantly, you need the right environment for an office so that you can have peace and quiet to get the work done. I have some tips the main considerations you should think about for a home office.


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How much can you earn?

How much you can earn as a transcriptionist depends on how fast you can type and what sort of track record you have with that particular business. It also can depend on the type of work you select. More difficult files, which may be harder to hear, with background noise or accents with a quicker turn around time generally means more money.

Usually the pay is based on an hourly rate of audio time (the length of time of the audio file), which is fair. So if it takes you 10 minutes or 3 hours to do the job of an audio file of 5 minutes, then you get paid the same. Makes sense.

Usually the way it works is that you select the tasks that you would like to do from the job board, once you are accepted to the company as a whole that is, so it is up to you what turnaround time you work to.

You can really earn anything from $10 an hour to $40. It really depends. Expect to start at the low end as a beginner though.


Tips to help you get started

  • Bear in mind that there will not always be work available as and when you want it, When the work turns up you have to be available to do it, so bear in mind that the level of flexibility you were looking for might not be here with this business.
  • I would also suggest to sign up with several different programs to give yourself the best chance of getting work.
  • You will have to set yourself up as self employed. You are essentially a freelancer provding a service to these companes. Therefore you are reponsible for your own tax etc.
  • You will have to have your own equipment as mentioned above. You cannot charge this onto any job


My verdict on transcription jobs

There is good earning potential here, and with actually very little cost.  You would just need the software and I am assuming that you have a computer and an office and internet connection.

This is a really great business opportunity and I hope I have helped you to find out how to work from home as as transcriptionist

I would love to know if you have any questions on this home business idea. And if this doesn’t suit you, take a look at my number 1 recommendation to earn money online.

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14 thoughts on “How to Work from Home as a Transcriptionist

  1. Edwin says:

    Wow – I didn’t realize how much opportunity is out there for this type of work. I thought you gave some great resources to get started along with links to the equipment required if we don’t have it.

    I also like the fact you offer other ways to work online.

    Great Stuff!

    • Ruth says:

      Thanks Edwin. I’m an pleased you liked it. Its actually very simple to get started and can be a really good way to earn some income. Thanks for your comments.

  2. OH this sounds great for some. I actually type 90 words a minute use to win awards at school for being so fast. This would be great. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  3. Matthew says:

    I have never heard of transcriptionist before, I found it very interesting and sounds like a good way of getting some income from home.
    Your article was incredibly well laid out and i love the feel and navigation around your pages.
    Keep up these great articles well done! Look forward to some more in the coming weeks

    • Ruth says:

      Thanks Matthew. It’s actually can be quite well paid and varied job. A good one to start if you are interested. Thanks for your lovely feedback too!

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