What is a transcriptionist and how to become a very good one

Being a transcriptionist opens up the possibility of doing flexible work from home and earning money.

But do you know what a transcriptionist is? And most importantly, do you know how to differentiate yourself and be an excellent one?

If you are facing the decision to become a transcriptionist, or you are a transcriptionist and want to improve, in this post you will find the answers you are looking for.

What is a transcriptionist?

A transcriptionist is dedicated to listening to recorded oral or live content and transferring it into a written format.

If you still don't know what transcribing is, then start reading this content before continuing.

He pays great attention to detail and reviews the documents or files he writes, in order to detect any errors or omissions and to do a quality and accurate job.

For this, he reviews and seeks to understand in advance his client's requirements and follows the specifications they give him to perform the transcription.

What it is to be a transcriber

Some clients may ask for a word-for-word transcription. Others may ask for an elaborated version of what is heard.

One of the most important aspects of transcription work is to deliver on time as agreed with clients or transcription companies.

What kind of work does a transcriptionist do?

The field of work of transcriptionists has experienced significant growth, due to the rise of social networks and the development of new technologies.

There are three main types of work that a transcriptionist can perform: medical transcription, legal transcription and general transcription.

The first two are a specialized type of work, while the third covers a wide variety of different content.

What tools do you need to become a transcriptionist?

They transcribe interviews, conferences, lectures, working groups, courses, telephone conversations, podcasts, animated videos for YouTube and many other materials.

For some people being a transcriptionist is a kind of side job, it is ideal because they can dedicate their extra time to it and generate additional income.

What tools do you need to work as a transcriptionist?

To ensure a good performance as a transcriptionist, you need the following tools:

  1. Reliable laptop or laptop computer, if you could have both at your disposal to be able to deal with any eventuality, it is ideal. Additionally, a flat keyboard will facilitate fast and smooth transcription.
  2. Reliable, high-speed internet connection.
  3. A desk, or a suitable table and chair, that will allow you to work in good posture and comfort for hours at a time.
  4. Headphones to hear the audios perfectly and to mute the sounds of your environment.
  5. WAV foot pedal that allows you to play, pause, fast forward or rewind an audio recording with your foot.
  6. Transcription software, maybe the company has a web application to facilitate transcription and is compatible with your pedal.

What skills does a transcriptionist require?

In addition to providing you with the tools we've told you about, there is a profile of competencies to be a good transcriptionist, they are as follows:

  1. Writing well is indispensable. In the transcription of the content, take into account the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation of the language.
  2. Speed of transcription. Companies pay you an agreed rate per hour of audio, or minutes of audio. A minimum of 40-50 words per minute is required, some companies ask for more.
  3. Listen carefully, because being a good transcriptionist involves more than just good listening. It is about paying close attention to capture and write clearly and accurately the content.
  4. Computer skills to use word processors, such as Word, and some skills to learn how to use software such as Google Docs, Audacity and others.
  5. Specialized training, if you aspire to do a type of work in the legal or medical field. If you are aiming to be a general transcriptionist, you will not require specific knowledge.
  6. Investigative spirit to inquire about terms and expressions that you hear in the audios and do not know or understand.
  7. Be patient, sometimes you receive audios that are not very clear and you have to listen to them several times until you get a good grasp of the content in order to transcribe it.

These are our 7 desirable qualities, skills and knowledge to be a good transcriptionist. Ideally, you should aim for the highest level of development of each of them.

How to become a transcriptionist: 5 questions you should ask yourself before you try it

Before making the decision to become a transcriptionist, it is advisable to gather as much information as possible.
Information about yourself, what you like, your skills, personality and how you see yourself in the future. And also, information about the transcription industry.

How to become a transcriptionist step by step

This way you will be able to see if this profession is a good option for you. We suggest you ask yourself, among others, the following questions:

  1. Do I like transcription? In addition to what we have already told you, transcribing involves working independently, with concentration and good time management. It requires accuracy, speed and discretion in relation to the information you receive.
  2. Always deliver on time, ensure quality and exceed your client's expectations. If this description appeals to you, transcription may be a good fit for you.
  3. Do I have the skills? The most important skills are typing well, fast and accurate, computer skills and a willingness to learn.
  4. Do I have the equipment needed? Transcription work is remote, which means you will need to have the necessary equipment.
  5. All workspaces require a computer in good condition with a fast internet connection, headphones and a quiet place without major interruptions where you can work. Without these resources, it will be very difficult for you to achieve your goal.
  6. Is working at home for me? This is important, not everyone likes the idea of working at home independently.
    What are the development opportunities? You have ample opportunities for growth and development, but this requires disciplined work and training.
  7. You can also think about carrying out an entrepreneurial project, the opportunities are there, the important thing is to determine if transcription is a job for you.

How to become a transcriptionist step by step?

Becoming a transcriptionist is a process that involves carrying out a series of actions over time. These actions will allow you to grow, develop and be successful in the industry, here we tell you what they are.

Find out what your niche is and seek to specialize in it

This is the first step to become a good transcriptionist. You will find offers for transcribing content in a variety of fields: medical, legal, commercial, corporate, communications, entertainment and more.

Based on your interests and knowledge, choose to focus on one field. Review literature and learn as much as you can.

Improve your skills with online courses

Nowadays you have many possibilities to take online courses and that is key. You can explore what platforms like Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn and others have to offer.

Develops expertise

The experience will allow you to gain transcription speed, be more accurate and learn more and more about the area you are interested in.

You can offer your services to freelancers or do internships, all of which will help you gain valuable experience.

Take advantage of online tools

There are very useful tools that allow you to control the audio using the keyboard or transcription pedal and improve the fluidity of your work.

What is a transcriptionist or transcriptor

Other tools make it easier to organize tasks and keep track of time, improve typing speed and learn languages.

All of the above will contribute to your goal of becoming a very good transcriptionist.

How to become a certified transcriptionist?

Each country has a specific procedure to obtain a transcriptionist certification. It consists of demonstrating knowledge and skills in a given area.

In the United States, for example, a medical transcriptionist certification requires passing online courses or completing training programs at a hospital institution.

Depending on the region, the certification procedure can take anywhere from six to eighteen months.


To be a good transcriber requires a good command of the language, fast typing, computer skills, willingness to learn, commitment and discipline.

In addition, you must have the equipment and resources to be able to work at home and deliver quality work.

However, if you enjoy being a transcriptionist, it will give you the motivation to fulfill the work assigned to you, exceed your clients' expectations and be better at everything every day.

Being a transcriptionist offers you the freedom to choose the area you want, time to dedicate, flexible schedules, and work/life balance.

We hope we have provided you with useful information to help you realize if being a transcriptionist is a good option for you and what you can do to become a very good one.

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.
Share in your social networks:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram