How fast do you need to type to be a transcriptionist ¿All can be one?

Knowing how fast a transcriptionist should type is essential, whether you are considering becoming a transcriptionist or are already a transcriptionist.

If you think you are not fast enough typing, you can be because it is a skill that can be learned and developed.

To achieve this, we invite you to read this post in which we tell you why this skill is so important, how to know your speed and what you can do to increase it.

how fast does a transcriptionist need to type

What speed is considered appropriate for transcription?

Even though we are in the age of automatic transcription, it is still done manually and is still a very good job for those who are looking for extra income at the end of the month.

Transcription speed is measured in words per minute (wpm) or beats per minute (kpm).

From our point of view, transcribing 45 words per minute is a good start because you have most likely learned on your own.

If you now decide to learn formally through courses and support yourself with technology and resources, you can develop the speed you need to be a successful transcriber.

Why is typing speed critical in transcription work?

Because of the dynamics of the job itself, being a transcriptionist involves typing the contents of audio recordings or documents for hours on end in a given amount of time.

To perform this task, transcriptionists need to be good typists. The more words you type per minute, the less time you will take to transcribe.

You will be fluent and can take on much transcription work. This translates into productivity: more transcription in less time means more money.

If your goal is to work in transcription companies, this is a crucial skill to be considered for employment in these places.

And suppose you want to be a freelancer. In that case, providing an excellent experience for your clients means exceeding their expectations, including being a fast transcriptionist and delivering work in an optimal timeframe.

What typing speed do transcription companies recommend?

Generally, the turnaround time for a transcription job is approximately 24 hours, depending on the length of the audio or document. It is, therefore, important for companies that transcriptionists achieve above-average transcription speed.

The average transcription speed is 40 to 60 wpm; higher level transcriptionists can write more than 80 wpm, and professional transcriptionists 80 to 100 wpm. Court stenographers are on another level, with more than 100 wpm.

how fast do you have to type to be a transcriptionist

As you can see, the speed of transcribers varies, but for transcription companies, the rate should be at least 60 wpm. This is equivalent to 120 keystrokes per minute.

Today, many organisations ask transcription companies to deliver work within hours or minutes because they are in a very challenging environment.

Failure to deliver would affect the dynamism of these organisations, which is why they need to have a team of fast transcriptionists.

How to check if you are fast enough to be a transcriber?

You can take some online tests that measure transcription speed; among others, there are the options of Intersteno and TypeRacer.

You can explore other options and know your transcription speed; becoming a faster transcriptionist is an achievable result, and in the next section, we will tell you how to achieve it.

How can typing speed be improved?

One of the most effective ways is to take a typing course. This course will allow you to get to know the keyboard and the location of each letter without having to see it.

In addition, you will learn the typing technique with all your fingers. Learning typing will allow you to write quickly, agile and without mistakes.

It will also be beneficial for you to enrol in an online transcription course. You will learn advanced knowledge of spelling, grammar, punctuation, research and listening comprehension.

On the other hand, transcribing is typing word after word, which is why speed is also a function of your listening skills. Working in a concentrated and quiet environment will improve your typing speed.

Transcriptionist velocity

Some resources will also help improve speed, including a computer with a media player and word processing software. Additionally, use a foot pedal to control audio playback and good quality headphones.

To conclude, factors always affect speed, among others, the number of speakers and their accents, audio quality and whether it is a complex subject; but if you have developed transcription speed, they will not affect your performance.

Where to practice transcription?

You can practise transcription for free with the Express Scribe software in different languages: English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese.

When practising transcription, do so without looking at the keyboard or monitor. Professional transcribers know every key, which is only achieved by practising and practising.

If you look at the keys, the brain takes time between understanding the key you are playing and what you are reading. This means thousandths of seconds lost, which, when added up, are minutes you don't want to lose.

how fast should a transcriptionist type

A key to practising transcription and achieving speed is always using the same computer with the same keyboard.

And to get the most out of your practice, do it in a place with the right conditions. With lighting, in a space where you can have a good position, with relaxed shoulders and a straight back.


There are different assessments of how fast you must be to be a transcriptionist. Without a doubt, being fast is one of the most important skills to be a successful transcriptionist.

This is a skill that you can learn and develop through very accessible online typing and introductory transcription courses.

A starting point for becoming a faster transcriptionist is to get to know your speed through online tests.

Set a realistic goal of typing more words per minute and practice with a lot of discipline until you reach your goal.

This quest to continually improve your skills to deliver quality work and exceed the expectations of employers or clients will lead you to be what you want: a productive and successful transcriptionist.

Emil Nikkhah
Hi, I'm Emil Nikkhah.
For over 25 years, I have successfully built several television post-production companies.
Frustrated by the high cost and slowness of manual transcription and subtitling in this industry, we decided to create ScriptMe, a powerful software for automatic transcription and subtitling.
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