How to Become a Transcriptionist in 2020

How to become a transcriptionist and become a professional in criminal, medical, legal, or any other sphere? In our article, you will find everything about this profession: types of work, possibilities, skills, and tips.

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If you ever asked yourself, “How to become a transcriptionist?”, you probably know that this job requires a specific set of skills along with determination. Some people think that anyone can be a transcriptionist to make quick money, but it’s a serious misconception that doesn’t correspond to reality. A transcriptionist is a person who listens to audio or video content and then converts it into text, allowing more people to access the presented information. Such experts often provide online transcription service, but before they get a chance to start working, they undergo various important preparations. Let’s explore what they tend to include.

What Is a Transcriptionist & Their Types of Work

A common stereotype surrounding the work of transcriptionists involves thinking that they only listen to recordings and type what they hear. But like any other type of job, this one is divided into many different categories. You could choose whichever of them appeals to you most based on your skills and preferences.

  • Meetings. You could choose to specialize in business language services, which is something many customers search for assistance. Our society holds forums and conferences all the time, meeting to discuss complex topics and voice their insights. The representatives of various countries are usually present, and it’s up to interpreters as well as transcriptionists to ensure they all understand each other. This job includes listening to what is being said and quickly typing it, preserving the message and words of a speaker. Later, these experts cooperate with translators who work with their notes, translate them, and share them with clients. The work of both is essential in instances like this. Is transcribing a good job, though, considering you are under constant stress? That’s up to you to decide. If you don’t want to be responsible for transcribing everything said during real-time meetings, you could always choose another type of transcribing work.
  • Phone conversations. Other transcriptionists choose to work with people’s phone conversations. For example, a person could be working for the police, listening to suspects talking via special technology, and typing everything they hear so that the officers could quickly read through it later. They have to focus on their more primary duties, so having an assistant like this takes a lot of pressure off them. Working as a transcriptionist under such conditions is less stressful because you could always listen to the recording again to ensure you caught everything correctly. A respectable marketing localization agency with interpretation service would also be interested in hiring you as they need help with phone discussions their operators have with the clients.
  • Videos. Video subtitling services take a relevant place in today’s market because they help connect audiences regardless of their hearing abilities or language knowledge. A deaf person or someone with bad hearing prefers to read subtitles when watching their favorite shows or movies. Foreigners could struggle with deciphering what is being said in a video where people talk in another language, so ordering subtitles is the only option for them. Working with videos is not only easier than following conversations in real-time, like with meetings, but it’s also engaging since you have a chance to enjoy the plot or a topic explored in them.  
  • Interviews. People give interviews that the journalists are supposed to record. It could be done in several ways, and transcribing is one of them. It means you could become an audio transcriptionist, converting what has been said to text after the interview or a speech is finished. Preparations to interviews also often require a specialist like this: people might brainstorm, discussing what questions they are going to ask a celebrity. You type their ideas and suggestions, and based on your notes, they solidify their plans later.

Becoming a Transcriptionist: Available Possibilities

Many students hope to work as transcriptionists because it’s considered a relatively easy job that doesn’t require any specific education. In a way, it’s true: if someone asked you to turn the words said in some video clip into text, you could do it with no problems. But is it hard to be a transcriptionist who works on a professional level?  You'll require some particular skills here, so not everyone is capable of providing this type of service. For one thing, one must have a perfect hearing. Accents, strange speech patterns, and other nuances shouldn’t keep professional transcriptionists from understanding what is being said with perfect clarity.

Then there is specialization. Students might look for general topics to work with, but if one plans on becoming an expert, they’ll likely have to select your direction. For instance, if they have some medical background, they could be excellent in assisting people in the sphere of healthcare because they’d have knowledge of terms, concepts, and phenomena that might be mentioned in nursing-based conversations or videos. Someone without this background will be unable to correctly convey everything — they could mix up words or confuse key terms that sound similar. Or let’s imagine you work in the movie industry: how to become a transcriber here? You could be an invaluable assistant to movie director, going as far as participating in the creation of a script since you are the one typing all his or her ideas down, helping them make sense of everything. If your employer chooses to translate script later, you could also say that you’re assisting in fostering international connections, which will look nice in your CV. But there will be constant interactions, in this case, so your communication skills have to be excellent. The same principles apply throughout other spheres: depending on your knowledge, you could join specific sector that will help you become narrowly specialized professional.

How Hard Is It to Be a Transcriptionist: Skills You Need

Like we said before, for being a transcriptionist, you don’t have to earn special degree. But you still need to possess certain skills. Also, undergoing training could be a good idea since it teaches people about the intricacies to look out for. Here are four major skills you should have if you’d like to succeed in this job.  

  • Good hearing. Since the job requires you to constantly listen to someone, your hearing must be impeccable. You should be able to understand every word, even if there are multiple people talking at the same time. Sure, a person with an average hearing could also try their hand at it, but for them, the job would take way more time than for someone with inherent skills.
  • Patience. Much of the content transcriptionists work with, has terrible quality. The audio is weak, the voices are too low, and other sounds are constantly interfering, creating an annoyingly noisy background. Thick accents could also slow you down, making you go back and listen to audio or video over and over again. Only someone with great deal of patience could do job like this on day-to-day basis.  
  • Typing speed. What does a transcriber do? Apart from listening, typing is one of their primary functions. Ideally, you have to be able to type about 70 words in a minute — otherwise, there might simply be no point in working since you’ll be wasting more time than earning money. Luckily, this skill is something you could easily develop even if you don’t have it yet: there are multiple online training programs, so just choose one and start trying.  
  • Fluency. Obviously, you should produce grammatically correct content. No one is going to hire you if you make spelling or grammar mistakes, so good transcriptionist must possess fluency and some deeper language knowledge in order to convey everything flawlessly.

Complexity Involved in Transcription Work

Quality of the files, the specifics of content, slang, or terminology involved — all these things make transcribing process complex or even frustrating. You must understand transcriptionists meaning before deciding to become one since unless you have the right skills, you risk confusing words, conveying wrong semantic meaning, and ignoring context out of ignorance. So, if you’re working with technical kind of content yet have no technical education, the chances of you doing a great job are significantly reduced. Similarly, if you are older than 50 and surrounded only by people from your age group, you might misunderstand modern slang or jokes spoke, which would bring bad results. Terrible quality is a problem that could be solved with the help of special deciphering technology, so learn how to use it. These aspects make a job such as this more complex than it appears at first.

Tools Needed for Effective Transcribing

Do you have to be certified to be a transcriptionist? Not necessarily, but many companies want to hire only people like this. You could get certificate by taking special classes — there is a great variety of them, including an online kind. But whether you plan on becoming certified or not, if you intend to work professionally, you’re going to require some helpful tools.

  • Headsets. This is the first major thing a transcriptionist needs. Silence is a must for being able to clearly hear what’s being clear, so you should buy comfortable, high-quality earbuds.
  • Transcription software.  Things like word processors are essential for understanding content as well as for producing, editing, & printing your files. Check options available online and determine what you’ll need in particular.    
  • Computer with a stable Internet connection. You should always stay in touch with customers. You could also require assistance online, so having solid connection is important. Is being a transcriptionist worth it, considering the investments you might have to make first? It depends on how serious you are about your work. If you are set on becoming a transcribing expert, then yes, of course, it is.
  • Foot pedal.  Instead of using the keyboard all the time, you should get a foot pedal. With its help, you could play or rewind your content instantly and effortlessly.

10 Things To Know Before Becoming Remote Transcriptionist

Would you like to work remotely? It’s a dream of many people. Writers, operators, managers, and translators already do it — for example, by providing article translation services from home, without wasting time on physical journeys to & from work. As a transcriptionist, you can do the same. Here are ten essential tips you should know.

10. Transcribing can be your primary or side job both. You’re the one who decides how many orders you accept. If there is already have primary job, transcribing could be an extra income option. If you focus on it alone, you could easily make enough money to support yourself.

9. Get equipment for doing quality work. Investing in the early stages is important for succeeding in the future.

8. You’ll save much time. Instead of wasting hours driving, a transcriptionist could save this time to rest or do more work.

7. Pan your own schedule. Working from home means that transcriptionists follow their own plans. Be responsible yet allow yourself to rest, and your enjoyment will skyrocket.

6. Skills should be developed all the time. Transcriptionist can always improve their performance, so develop your hearing, enhance your fluency, and work on a typing speed.

5. You can still pay taxes. Freelancers are able to pay taxes by keeping and submitting their records, so don’t worry about breaking the law with your remote work.

4.  Find a job anywhere. What is a transcriptionist job? It has such a universal nature that you could work in any sphere. Understand your strengths and look for places within your specialization.

3. Training is vital for earning good money. Get certificate to boost your professional value. The more experienced you are, the higher your salary is going to be.  

2. Switch between jobs without losing anything. Transcriptionist acquires essential skills that could accompany them in other workplaces. One could become personal assistant, secretary, operator, manager, etc. — all these positions need quick typing, sharp hearing, and developed communication abilities.  

1. Start your own business. If you're successful and clients seek you out instead of the other way around, consider expanding. Hire & train people you trust and become their leader.