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How To Become A Transcriptionist - Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

2022-06-238 mins

Do you want to learn how to become a transcriptionist, so you can work remotely from the comfort of your own home?

Learning how to become a freelance transcriptionist is a great choice for those who want a flexible schedule, love typing and learning, and want to get started with little experience. Plus, the need for converting audio into written documents only continues to grow. 

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about becoming a transcriptionist.

Here are some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • What does a transcriptionist do?

  • What are the different types of transcription?

  • How much does a transcriptionist make?

  • What you need to get started as a transcriptionist

  • What transcription certifications and training are available

  • How to become a transcriptionist for free in 5 steps

  • The best places to find beginner transcription jobs

With that said, you’ll learn how to become a transcriptionist online with no experience in this step-by-step guide. 

What Does a Transcriptionist Do?

Transcriptionists convert audio or video files into written documents. To excel as a transcriptionist, you need to be fluent in English, be great at listening, and be a fast typist. Luckily, most of these skills can be learned. 

As a transcriptionist, there are all kinds of jobs you can do, like converting audio meetings, conversations, interviews, speeches, and more into written text. 

Converting audio and video to text also improves accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Some transcriptionists will work from courtrooms and medical settings, but there’s also the option to work on transcribing from home and set your own working hours. 

As you can see, becoming a transcriptionist offers you a lot of flexibility with where and when you work. Plus, you’ll learn a lot of new things depending on the topics you’re transcribing.  

When you’re working as a transcriptionist, you’re also working alone, so you don’t have to deal with bosses, phone calls, and meetings during the day.  

What Are the Different Types of Transcriptions?

There are a few different types of work you can get into when becoming a transcriptionist. Usually, it’s broken down into three main categories: general, legal, and medical.

If you’re a beginner who’s just getting started, then the easiest place to get started will be with general transcription jobs. These jobs are much easier to get and most don’t require any previous work experience.

If you do want to work as a medical or legal transcriptionist, then you’ll need to have formal education. This can be a blend of college courses, past experience in the field, certificates, and more.

However, since the requirements for this kind of job are higher, these types of transcription jobs do tend to pay more. 

General Transcriptionist

As a general transcriptionist, you’ll be hired to produce a wide range of different transcriptions for audio and video files. For example, you could transcribe interviews, podcast episodes, meetings, speeches, focus groups, and more. 

You can even get a media transcriptionist job and work directly for media companies.

There’s also an option to provide real-time captioning for events and television broadcasts. Real-time captioning tends to pay more since it’s a more difficult skill to learn.

You can take your transcriptionist career even further by becoming a closed captioning transcriptionist. 

Closed captioning requires you to create transcriptions for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Beyond transcribing the speaker's voices you’ll also be adding background noises, and more. 

Closed captioning jobs tend to pay more than general transcription jobs. 

Legal Transcriptionist

A legal transcriptionist transcribes trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Another common title for a legal transcriptionist is a court reporter.

To get started as a legal transcriptionist, you need to obtain a certificate or license. This education helps you get familiar with legal terms, definitions, and procedures.

Most legal transcriptionists will work onsite at a law office, courtroom, or other legal settings. However, in some cases, you’ll have the option to work remotely. 

Legal transcriptionists can also be employed by law enforcement to transcribe witness statements, 911 calls, and more. 

Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists will watch videos or listen to audio from doctors and healthcare professionals and convert these into written documents and reports.

These jobs can be remote, but most often you’ll be employed at a doctor’s office, lab, or even hospital. 

Usually, working as a medical transcriptionist requires certification, a license, or previous work in a medical office. Since you’ll be working in a medical office you need to be aware of patient privacy, along with medical terms, processes, and more. 

Sometimes medical professionals will use transcription software to create the first draft of an audio file, then give this to a medical transcriptionist to edit the document and improve the accuracy.

Skills & Equipment to Get Started as a Transcriptionist

In theory, working as a transcriptionist seems easy. You simply listen to an audio record and write down what’s said. However, it takes more skill than you might think. 

Working as a transcriptionist requires a combination of technical skills, listening skills, and the right equipment. You also need to have solid attention to detail, great English grammar, and the ability to do repetitive work. 

The following are some of the most important skills, equipment, and recommended training for you to start your career as a transcriptionist.

Skills to Succeed as a Transcriptionist

To succeed as a transcriptionist there are some core skills you need. 

Beyond the skills above, you need to have above-average typing skills. The speed that you type will have a direct impact on how much money you can make, so you’ll want to improve this skill as soon as possible. 

You’ll also want to be an expert at English and have command over grammar rules, spelling, and punctuation. The written documents you produce should be free from errors.

Other soft skills required to be a transcriptionist are being very detail-oriented and having a lot of patience. Sometimes audio files will be low quality, so you’ll be listening to the same audio many times to get an accurate transcription. 

Transcriptionist Equipment You Need to Get Started

The type of transcriptionist equipment you need depends upon the type of transcription work you’re doing. For example, if you’re a beginner who’s working with a transcription platform, then you’ll only need a computer and a fast internet connection.

You’ll also need software like Microsoft Word or Open Office to create written documents. Depending on the company you choose, they might have specific software requirements too.

If you’re pursuing a long-term career as a transcriptionist, then you might want to invest in more equipment like a high-quality keyword, a foot pedal, additional monitors, and a nice pair of headphones.

All of this equipment will help you produce more accurate transcriptions at a much faster rate.

You can also use software like Notta to speed up the transcription process. It will automatically transcribe your audio files, and you can review them for accuracy. 

In time, you might also want to invest in home office equipment, so you have a comfortable and productive work environment as you’re transcribing. 

How Much Does a Transcriptionist Make?

The amount you can earn as a transcriptionist depends on a range of different factors including your skill level, typing speed, past experience, the niche you decide to work in, and more. 

According to Ziprecruiter, general transcriptionists earn around $40k per year. On the high end, salaries can go over $65k per year.

Legal transcriptionists earn around $60k per year. Of course, these are average numbers and depend on your experience, region, time worked per week, and more.

While medical transcriptionists earn around 30k per year on average. However, salaries in this field can go as high as 80k per year. 

In general, most beginner transcriptionists will earn around $10 per hour, but this can increase over time. 

If you’re working for a transcription platform, then you’ll be paid for the audio minute, or audio hour, that you transcribe. So, the faster you transcribe the more money you can make. 

The rate per audio minute/hour can also be higher if it’s low quality, or difficult to hear. Some transcription jobs can pay more if it requires timestamps, captioning, and more. 

Another factor in how much you can earn is the company you work for. Some companies will pay a per-project rate and others will pay based on audio minutes transcribed.

As your speed and skills grow, you’ll be able to find a better-paying transcription job. 

Once you have years of experience or are in a specialized industry, you can command rates upwards of $50 per hour. 

What Transcription Certifications and Training are Available?

If you’re brand new and using a transcription platform to get work, then you won’t need to obtain any special certificates or training to get started.

However, there are educational programs available online that you can take to quickly improve your skills and get higher-paying work. 

If you’re looking for a general transcription course make sure you check the course reviews, speak to graduates of the program, and evaluate the price. You’ll want to make sure it’s a solid investment and will actually help you grow your skills and hourly rate.

There’s also additional certification available through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers and the National Verbatim Reporters Association.

Obtaining training and transcription certification from these organizations will help you command higher rates as a transcriber.

For those who want to become a medical or legal transcriptionist, you’ll need additional education and training. 

To become a medical transcriptionist there are organizations like the Registered healthcare Documentation Specialist at the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist that offer training and certifications.

To become a legal transcriptionist there are organizations like the National Court Reporters Association that offer certification to become a court reporter.

How to Become a Transcriptionist (5 Easy Steps)

Now that you have an in-depth understanding of what becoming a transcriptionist entails, let’s dive deep into a step-by-step process of how to become a transcriptionist with no experience.

1. Choose Your Transcription Type and Niche

The first thing you need to do is decide the niche you’re going to get started in. If you’re just getting started, then general transcription can be a great way to get started quickly and see if you enjoy the work.

You can also experiment with different forms of transcription like podcast episodes, meeting notes, audiobooks, academic research, speeches, and more. 

Or, you might want to take advanced training and pursue a career as a medical or legal transcriptionist?

You’ll also need to consider if this is something you want to do full-time, or more part-time as a side hustle. 

2. Get Faster at Typing and Improve Your Skills

As a transcriptionist one of the key skills you’ll need to develop is your typing skills. The faster and more accurate you can type, the more money you can make. 

You can use a tool like Free Typing Test to get your initial typing speed score. The more you type and practice your skills, the faster you’ll get.

The transcription platform GoTranscript also has resources for improving your transcription speed. 

You can also consider investing in premium courses to grow your skills even faster. 

Here are two great options:

  • Udemy. You’ll find a variety of transcription courses that cover work from home transcription, medical transcription, captioning, and more.

  • Transcription Certification Institute. An organization that offers training, a guaranteed internship, and access to a premium job board. 

3. Create Your Resume and Apply for Jobs

Once you feel confident with your transcription skills you can start applying for jobs. If you’re just getting started, then the easiest option is going to be working for a transcription platform, like some of the options below. 

Otherwise, you can create your resume and make sure to update it with your new transcription skills.

You can browse through platforms like Linkedin Jobs and FlexJobs to find the perfect transcription job for you. 

4. Get Hired and Understand the Company Style

If you’re working for a transcription company, then it will have certain requirements regarding the quality and type of transcription they expect.

Most companies and transcription platforms will have a style guide that outlines the expectations. For example, they might want you to do verbatim transcription, speaker identification, and more. 

The better you understand and adhere to the company guidelines, the better your chances of earning more over time.

5. Get More Experience and Make More Money

Transcription jobs will pay more as you gain more experience. Once your typing speed has improved and you understand the transcription process, you should start applying for better-paying platforms and jobs. 

You can simply apply for better jobs, or even use a platform like Upwork, where you can pitch jobs and set your own rates.

Another way to grow your income is by reaching out to potential clients like businesses, podcast studios, and law offices and obtain work from them directly. 

Where Can You Find Transcription Jobs?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get started as a transcriptionist, then there are a variety of transcription companies that you can use to get started.

The pay isn’t incredible, but it can be a great way to make money while you gain experience and skills.

The following companies can be a great place to get started. Some of the providers below require you to take a test before you can begin work as a transcriptionist. 

Keep in mind that if you don’t have any experience and it’s your first job, then your starting pay will probably be lower. 


Rev is one of the most popular transcription providers. Once you sign up and pass the quiz you can choose from hundreds of different transcription jobs. 

They have a flexible rate for transcription and pay between 30 cents to $1.10 per audio minute. The average earnings on the platform are around $245, but top earners on the platform can earn up to 6x this amount. 

Plus, you get paid weekly for the tasks you completed the week before. 

Go Transcript

Go Transcript is a solid transcription service that’s easy to get started with. First, you’ll need to create an account on the platform and then pass the transcription test.

After you’ve passed the test you can browse the list of available projects and choose a project to get started with.

The company pays higher than most and the average payment is 60 cents per audio minute. The average earnings across the platform are $150 per month, but top transcriptionists can earn much more than that. 


SpeakWrite is a great transcription platform for intermediate transcriptionists. To work for this platform you’ll need to have a year of experience, type over 60 words per minute, and have an accuracy rate of 90%.

The platform has clients in multiple industries including government, law enforcement, legal, and private sector companies.

On average, transcriptionists earn around $300 per month on the platform. While top earners make over $3,000 per month. 

Once you start working you’ll choose your own hours and need to meet the minimum requirement of at least 15 hours per month. 


CrowdSurf is a transcription and closed captioning provider. The focus of the platform is providing transcriptions for the deaf, hard of hearing, and those who speak different languages. 

Once you create an account, you can begin applying for different transcription tasks in their marketplace. 

There are a variety of different jobs available on the platform, from interviews, video content, and even popular cartoons. 

On this platform, you can expect to earn 20 cents per audio minute. Plus, a lot of the transcription tasks you’ll take on are shorter, so you won’t get bored. 


Quicktate is a platform that helps people transcribe a wide range of different audio files like voicemails, memos, legal files, phone calls, conference calls, medical files, and more. 

Depending on the audio files you choose, the audio can range from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. You’ll be employed as an independent contractor, so you can choose to work as much or as little as you’d like.

The platform will pay around one cent for every four words you transcribe.

If you’re really good at transcribing, then there’s a chance that you’ll get promoted to the iDictate platform that’s owned by the same company. This platform pays transcribers around two cents for every four words you transcribe.

Transcript Divas

Transcript Divas is one of the better-paying transcription platforms in the market. Your rate per audio minute can go as high as $2.98 per audio minute with enough experience. The average rate for the platform is around $1.39 per audio minute.

Best of all, you don’t need any previous experience to get approved for the platform. However, the more experience you have, the better your chances of getting approved. 


TranscribeMe is a leading transcription platform. First, you’ll need to create an account and pass a transcription test, before you get approved to start transcribing. 

When you first start, you’ll have short audio clips to transcribe, but as you complete projects, you’ll get access to longer audio tasks. 

They offer some of the best rates in the industry, especially for beginners. Rates range from $15 to $22 per audio hour, and some of the top earners on the platform make $2,200 per month. If you have a specialty like medical, then you can earn an even higher rate. 


Speechpad is a widely used transcription platform that’s great for beginners. You can create an account for free, but you’ll need to pass the grammar and transcription test before you can get started.

As you finish jobs your profile will get a star rating. The higher this rating the better and higher-paying jobs you can get. You’ll find all kinds of online transcription jobs for beginners on the platform, including closed captioning jobs.

On average you can earn between $15 and $50 per audio hour. 

3Play Media

3Play Media is a closed captioning and transcription provider. In order to get approved for the platform, you’ll need to be able to type at least 75 words per minute.

There are a variety of different projects available and you’ll get paid based on the projects you complete. On average, you can expect to earn around $10 to $30 per hour. 

You have full control over how much you work and the types of projects you want to work on. You’ll also find full-time jobs available, if you only want to work for a single company.

Averbach Transcription

Averbach Transcription is another transcription platform that’s always on the lookout for new transcribers. To get approved for the platform you’ll need to pass a skills test.

After that, you can begin selecting projects to work on.

The rates are pretty high and average out at $1 per audio minute. You can make even more on rush jobs that pay $1.50 per audio minute. Most freelancers on the platform earn between $20 to $30 per hour. 

You have full control over the projects you decide to take on and the hours you work. 

Daily Transcription

Daily Transcription is another high paying transcription service. They pay between $0.75 and $0.85 per audio minute. Some of the top transcribers on the platform earn between $250 to $950 per week. Plus, you get paid weekly.

To join the platform you’ll need to pass a skills test and a transcription test. You also need to be able to type at least 50 words per minute. 

Instead of selecting projects, you’ll pick time slots that you want to work and will be assigned work during those times. 

There are projects available across a range of different industries like legal, entertainment, academic, corporate, and more.  

GMR Transcription

GMR Transcription is a general transcription provider. They don’t disclose the rate per audio minute, but transcribers using the platform can earn between $1,000 to $3,000 per month.

You can get started with the general transcription jobs without any previous experience and you’ll be working in the academic, business, and legal niches.

There’s also medical transcription work available that pays even more. You’ll mostly be transcribing interviews with patients and their medical conditions. However, for the medical transcription jobs you’ll be expected to work regular hours.


Here are some of the most common questions we’ve received about becoming a transcriptionist:

Does it take a long time to become a transcriptionist?

The time it will take you to become a transcriptionist depends on your existing skill set. For example, if you’re already a native English speaker with great grammar skills and are fast at typing you should be able to work for a transcription company in a couple of days or weeks.

If you’re looking to go into a more advanced field like medical or legal transcription, then you’ll have to spend time getting the proper certificates and education. However, more advanced fields do pay more per audio minute and per hour. 

What’s the easiest way to find transcriptionist jobs?

The simplest way to get started as a transcriptionist is by signing up for one of the popular transcription platforms we highlighted above. 

These platforms are built for beginners to help grow their skills and earn an income online. The more your skills improve, the more you can earn. 

In time, you might find a specialty you like, which can increase your rate even further. 

Is it difficult to become a transcriptionist?

To become a transcriptionist you don’t need a college degree or any other training, plus there are transcription companies that hire complete beginners. 

However, it also depends on your existing skill set. If you're a great listener and fast at typing, then it will be easy for you to get started. The work can also be repetitive since you’ll be listening to the same audio file again and again to ensure accuracy.

Transcription work might be your dream job, but others will find it very difficult.

How long does it take to transcribe 1 hour of audio?

In general, it takes 4 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio. However, it depends on the quality of the audio file and the speed of the transcriptionist. In some cases, transcribing a single hour of audio can take as long as 10 hours. 

How fast should a transcriptionist be able to type?

The faster and more accurate you can type as a transcriptionist, the more you can earn. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to type at least 65 words per minute to be a successful transcriptionist. 

What’s the difference between verbatim and non-verbatim transcription?

Verbatim transcription includes every single sound including ums, ahs, etc. If you’re transcribing for law enforcement or legal proceedings, then verbatim transcriptions are usually required.

Non-verbatim transcription doesn’t require the same level of detail and the goal is to capture the words and phrases as accurately as you can. 

What industries employ transcriptionists?

Transcriptionists can be employed across a wide range of industries. Some of the most common are medical, legal, law enforcement, financial, government, religious, and business settings.

The wide range of transcription types makes it easy to find the type of transcription work you enjoy the most. 


Hopefully, you feel confident about starting your new career or side hustle as a transcriptionist. Even if you’ve never heard of a transcriptionist until today, you can start making money online in a couple of days by following the guide above.

If you want to speed up your transcription time and earn more, then give Notta a test drive today. With a pro plan, you can import audio and video files, do live transcription, get access to 1,800 transcription minutes per month, and more.