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How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist: The Benefits, Duties, Requirements & Much More

Becoming a medical transcriptionist can be a gratifying job for many individuals. Not only can most medical transcriptionists work from home or remotely, but they can help others while they do. Medical transcriptionists type up notes and patient files from audio files created by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. These notes and patient files must be accurate so that doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities have correct notes on their patients to refer back to. 

So, if you’re interested in helping others, working from home, and making money while you do it, how can you get started? Today, we will cover everything you need to know about how to become a medical transcriptionist. 

What does a medical transcriptionist do?

A medical transcriptionist, also known as a medical scribe, is a job that requires an individual to listen to audio recordings from doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals. While listening to the audio file, the transcriptionist will type the audio into text quickly and accurately. Accurate transcription is essential for medical transcription jobs because hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors rely on these patient files and notes to treat and diagnose their patients later on. 

Medical transcriptionists use tools like a headset, computer, keyboard, and foot pedal to type and record the audio files quickly. 

The foot pedal is a standard transcriptionist tool that allows an individual to fast forward, rewind, slow down, or speed up the audio recording while typing. Some medical transcriptionists may use speech-to-text software to create an initial draft of the audio recording. Then, the transcriptionist can go back and listen to the audio recording and make edits to ensure maximum accuracy. 

Unlike many jobs in the medical industry, becoming a medical transcriptionist does not require extensive or expensive schooling. However, you can still work closely with medical providers and help patients, which is a part of the job that many medical scribes enjoy. You’ll also learn a lot about the medical industry, diagnosing, and medicine while working, which may interest individuals curious about the medical industry. 

Many medical transcriptionists work from home for a large transcription company or as a freelancer for various companies. A small percentage of medical transcriptionists will work at a physician’s office or hospital. Still, most medical transcriptionists can work remotely, which is a massive job benefit. 

Difference Between Medical Transcription And General Transcription?

General transcription and medical transcription require the same skillset, but medical transcription requires more specialized training and knowledge. Medical transcriptionists need to know shorthand and medical terminologies, such as anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, patient confidentiality issues, and medical documentation procedures. 

General transcription is easier to get into because it includes transcription for nearly any topic, excluding medical or legal transcription, which requires further education. Examples of general transcription work could be transcribing YouTube videos, focus group recordings, insurance files, entertainment files, etc. Since general transcription is less specialized, it’s easier to start working as a general transcriptionist, making this a great way to break into the industry while you’re earning a medical transcript degree. 

On the other hand, medical transcriptionists usually need special training. Many companies may not even consider you for the job unless you’ve been trained and have experience in the industry. Medical transcription also requires nearly flawless transcription with no errors because you’ll be creating patient files and notes that surgeons, doctors, and nurses need to rely on while treating their patients. 

What are the Medical Transcription Requirements and Perks?

Average salary

According to Indeed, the average base salary for a medical transcriptionist in the United States is $17.49 per hour, or $31,579 a year. However, this doesn’t account for the considerable range in salary, possible benefits, and hours worked because many transcriptionists choose their own schedule and may not work a traditional 40-hour-per-week schedule. 

Salary.com reported a much higher median salary of $48,777 per year as the national average for pay in the United States. Ultimately, the average salary for a medical transcriptionist will depend heavily on your location, education, performance, and experience.  


A medical transcriptionist typically needs a postsecondary nondegree award, which is usually a medical transcriber course or medical transcriptionist degree like an associate's. If you’re dedicated to becoming a medical transcriptionist, you may be able to earn your diploma or certificate in as little as one year, but a full associate degree will usually take two years to complete. 

Other requirements will be fast, accurate typing, listening skills, organizational and communication skills, a basic knowledge of the computer, and specialty knowledge about medical terminology and reports. 

Work environment

A medical transcriptionist typically works from home, but some may work onsite in a doctor’s office or hospital. 

Onsite medical transcriptionists will likely have a bustling environment that can be quite noisy. Their environment will be more fast-paced as they may be expected to move from room to room with a doctor or nurse. Other onsite medical transcriptionists will have an office where they work quietly, and doctors or nurses report back to them with summaries. Either way, onsite medical transcriptionists will have much more direct contact with others, so consider this when choosing your work environment. 

Remote medical transcriptionists can set up their own environment at home, making the possibilities endless. If you have the space, you may be able to set up your own office or take over a quiet area of the living room or kitchen to work from. As a remote worker, you will be responsible for providing and maintaining your own computer, headset, foot pedal, and other tools needed to transcribe accurately. It’s also crucial that you consider your personality and work style. 

Are you a self-starter who can motivate yourself to work from home effectively? Will you have kids or pets around that may disturb your work? Can you balance this job?

Consider these questions before deciding whether working remotely is best for you. 


A medical transcriptionist needs to understand the importance of transcribing medical records and patient files. Not only do you have a duty to keep the information you transcribe confidential for patient privacy, but you also need to consider your duty to complete your work on time. Medical records and patient files may be required by the deadline for important surgeries and procedures. So, consider the duty you have to medical providers and their patients when looking at deadlines and don’t take them lightly as it can affect the timing of someone’s medical treatment. 

Job Growth

With the rise in transcription software online, it may seem like professional transcriptionists are doomed. However, this isn’t the case, especially with sensitive topics like medical records. 

A human touch can’t be underestimated, primarily when the accuracy of typed reports strongly affects the health and wellbeing of others. 

Technological advances may even be helpful to medical transcriptionists rather than competition. More and more medical transcriptionists are using transcription software to create a rough draft, then listening through the audio recording and making edits as they go. 
Overall, it is projected that there will be a 7% decline in medical transcriptionist jobs by 2030. Part of this may be due to technological advances, but the increasing aging population and widespread chronic health conditions may also increase the demand for quality medical transcriptionists. 

Today, many doctors spend more time on medical records and paperwork than with actual patients. Medical transcriptionists and receptionists can change this reality and free up a doctor’s time so that they can provide better care and see more patients. Many medical organizations are turning to medical transcriptionists to solve this problem and improve their quality of care. So, while there may be a small predicted decline, the overall industry is still strong and in demand by many medical organizations. 

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How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

  1. Complete your GED or earn your high school diploma

    A high school diploma or GED is a minimum level of education required for medical transcriptionists. If you don’t already have your GED or high school diploma, work on acquiring this while honing your typing skills. 

  2. Figure out your typing speed

    Accurate and fast typing is essential for becoming a medical transcriber. If you work from home, it may even affect how much money you can make because some jobs pay based on the work completed rather than by the hour. Forty words per minute is considered an average typing speed, but typing speeds of 80 WPM will allow you to make more money and increase your attractiveness as an applicant. You can even purchase a certificate from typing schools online showcasing your impressive typing speed to include with or on your resume to interest possible employers. 

    If you’re unsure what your current typing speed is, look for online, free typing tests to determine your typing speed. Then, work on developing your speed and accuracy, which is especially important for medical transcription. 

    Check out our previous article on how to improve your typing speed for additional information on improving your typing speed and increasing your pay and viability as a medical transcriptionist. 

  3. Earn a medical transcript degree or complete a medical transcriber course

    Enroll in a medical transcript degree or medical transcriber course. Most of these programs are online and self-paced. If you’re in school, you may be able to find an associate degree program in medical transcription. Choose an education path, complete courses, and graduate. 

    This can be an optional step depending on the company you apply to. Still, we strongly recommend it because it will give you a competitive edge and more knowledge of the medical industry. Learning your medical terminology will also help your accuracy and speed when you’re transcribing, allowing you to perform better on the job. 

  4. Work in transcription

    Start applying for in-person or remote jobs in transcription. You may need to work as a general transcriptionist before working as a medical scribe to gain enough experience to apply for work in the medical transcription field. 

    You can rarely start in the medical transcription field without specific experience, education, or certificates for the field. However, working for a medical provider or in other medical capacities may give you an edge over other applicants. Transcription experience will also be a significant plus on your resume. 

  5. Update your resume and begin applying for jobs

    Once you’ve completed your education or gained experience working as a transcriptionist, update your resume and start applying for medical transcriptionist jobs. Include all education, transcription experience, and other factors, like volunteering or working in a medical office that can help you stand out from the crowd. 

    Begin applying for medical transcriptionist jobs. There are many transcription jobs available online, through websites like Indeed, Upwork, Glassdoor, and Google, to apply for. Stay positive while applying. Many people will need to apply for a large handful of jobs before successfully securing a position, especially if this is their first time working as a medical scribe. 

  6. Keep your education current and consider additional certifications

    Not all medical transcriptionist jobs will require certifications to work as a medical transcriptionist. However, the extra education can give you a leg up in your career and allow you to access more opportunities. Consider taking the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist exam or Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist exam after gaining some transcription experience. 

    These exams will test your knowledge of the English language, punctuation, medical terminology, and grammar. If you pass, these certificates are excellent resume builders that can set you apart from other applicants.  

  7. Look at transcription companies with courses or on-the-job training

    Certain transcription companies will offer courses to become a medical scribe. These courses may include teachings on medical terminology and electronic medical record platforms. If you are new to the medical transcriptionist field, consider looking for companies with these courses specifically for additional on-the-job training. Other companies will offer several days of in-person training, even if the job itself is remote so that you can jump into your responsibilities as a medical transcriptionist seamlessly. 

Medical Transcriptionist Job Description Example

Day to Day Work Description

The day-to-day work schedule of a medical transcriptionist will vary greatly depending on if the scribe works onsite or remotely. 

A medical transcriptionist who works in a medical office or hospital will work closely with a doctor and shadow them from room to room. The primary task of an in-person medical transcriptionist will be to take notes verbatim on the interactions between a doctor and a patient. A medical transcriptionist doesn’t talk to patients directly but will listen and take notes from doctors, nurses, or other medical practitioners. Depending on the facility, an in-person medical transcriptionist will either move from room to room with a doctor and take notes, or they may stay at their desk or in a room and wait for the doctor to come to them and summarize their thoughts on the patient interaction. From there, they’ll take notes on the patient interaction and record them into the electronic medical system used at that office. 

Remote medical transcriptionists will have a more relaxed set-up that they can tailor to their personal needs. Many remote medical transcriptionists choose their schedules, allowing them to work early in the morning, late at night, or during typical business hours. This flexibility is a significant benefit for many who want to work remotely to watch young children or work while their kids are at school. Freelance medical transcription can also be a great part-time job or side hustle for those looking to make additional income. 


Whether you work remotely or in-person as a medical transcriptionist, you’ll need to be adaptable to different doctors' and medical providers’ note and record preferences or “style.” If you work in a small clinic, you may only have a few providers to keep track of, but a freelancer or transcriptionist working in or for an emergency department could easily have more than a dozen providers’ preferences to remember and work with. 

Typical job descriptions

Typical job requirements and descriptions for a medical transcriptionist include the following: 

  • Strong data entry skills

  • High school diploma or GED

  • Accurate typing skills and fast WPM 

  • Strong spelling skills 

  • Good listening skills

  • Strong organizational and communication skills

  • 0-3 years of transcription experience, depending on the position

  • Knowledge of medical terminology

  • Self-starter, motivated, and focused

  • Deadline oriented 

  • A medical transcriptionist certificate or degree, depending on the position

If it’s a remote position, you’ll also need a computer with specific requirements. These were some of the most common computer requirements that we came across: 

  • Able to provide your own workstation and set-up

  • OS - Windows 10 computer

  • Intel Core i5 or better processor 

  • Ram - 16 GB minimum

  • Your own wifi connection (speed will matter, especially if you are paid by output) 

  • Foot pedal 

  • Quality headset

  • Medical dictionary

  • Software to fast forward, rewind, and pause audio recordings, depending on the job

  • A word processing software

Additional Resources

During our research for today’s article, we came across multiple additional resources that helped paint a complete picture of the medical transcription field. 

For a fantastic career profile that shows an in-depth look at a remote medical transcriptionist’s day to day life, schedule, and duties, check out this video on the Career Profile: Medical Transcription by CareerStep:

We also enjoyed this video from CanScribe Career College, which goes over the three things you need to know about how to become a medical transcriptionist:

Not yet convinced that being a medical transcriptionist is the right path for you? 

Watch this short video on why I love being a medical transcriptionist to see if this job lines up with the things that make you feel alive:


Is medical transcription still in demand?

Absolutely. Medical transcription is crucial to creating accurate, optimal patient reports and medical records, which are becoming increasingly valuable, especially with an aging population and the spread of chronic illnesses. The healthcare industry is realizing that doctors are often bogged down by hours of paperwork and notes every day, which limits their ability to see and help patients. A medical transcriptionist takes this task over, freeing doctors and nurses to do what they do best, treating and helping patients. 

How do medical transcriptionists get paid?

Medical transcriptionists get paid in several ways. If you are an in-person transcriptionist, you will likely be paid hourly or an annual salary. Remote or freelance transcriptionists may be paid hourly, or by the volume of transcription they create, which is why fast, accurate typing skills are critical to a transcriptionist’s success. 

Do you need to be certified to be a medical transcriptionist?

Yes, you do need to be certified to be a medical transcriptionist. At a minimum, a medical transcriptionist needs a high school diploma or GED. From there, they will need to be certified or earn a medical transcription degree. You can usually do this in as little as one to two years, depending on the program, course, or degree. 

What are the benefits of working as a medical transcriptionist?

There are many benefits to working as a medical transcriptionist, including large amounts of freedom when you work from home. Often, you can also make your own schedule and be paid by your productivity rather than hourly. Another significant benefit of working as a medical transcriptionist is the exciting task of recording patient stories and records, which is interesting to many individuals and essential for quality patient care. 

Final Thoughts

Becoming a medical transcriptionist can be a rewarding career choice, from the many opportunities to work from home and determine your own schedule to know that you’re making a real difference in the lives of many patients. However, becoming a medical transcriptionist will require some education and training before you start. 

If you would enjoy working as a medical transcriptionist, we recommend starting today with a medical transcriber course and taking active steps to improve your typing speed and accuracy. 

Interested in speech-to-text transcription software that can make your life easier and save you time while working as a transcriptionist? Check out Notta here.  

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