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Here is the surprise – typing speed is not critical when considering the general transcription profession; especially for work-from-home job opportunities which generally pay based on production of transcripts.

Customers usually only care about accuracy, proper transcript formatting, and timely turnaround. A slow-typing transcriptionist will earn less in the beginning, and increase their hourly earnings as their typing speed improves. Customers will never know or care about the typing speed as long as deadlines are met.

Successful transcriptionists need to have the following skills:

  • Good Ears
  • Fast Fingers– Don’t worry if you don’t have them now, it’s not a must-have to start. You will have them once you start working.
  • Recognition of Terms
  • Knowledge of Punctuation
  • Patience
  • Responsibility
  • Be smart and informed
  • Good grammar and spelling skills
  • Decent typing speed

Most people think that all one needs to become a successful transcriptionist are good ears and fast fingers. You do need good ears and your typing speed will improve, but you also have to be well rounded enough to know to transcribe “Bear Market”, not “Bare Market”.

You must be able to recognize the difference between "discreet" and "discrete". And you must be afflicted with an enthusiasm for punctuation in order to make people read as they sound.

  • Good listening and attention to detail
    These skills should be obvious, given the job. Very often transcriptionists encounter recordings spoken with different accents and a varied level of clarity. Good listeners will complete transcriptions faster and more accurately. Given that the earnings in this profession are determined by performance, this skill will result in highest income for a general transcriptionist. Also, transcription pay rates for “bad recordings” are typically higher, which means that a transcriptionist can make more money for the same amount of work if they can pay attention to details.
  • Patience
    Patience is a real virtue for a good transcriptionist. Very often (almost always for bad recordings), transcriptionists will need to go back few times to understand exact words. Patient transcriptionists typically have higher accuracy, resulting in more regular customers and fewer returns.
  • Discipline and Responsibility
    Transcriptionists need to meet deadlines. Clients will not meet their deadline if transcripts are late. Transcription is a profession that requires discipline and responsibility to complete work on time and follow client instructions.
  • Smart and informed
    Transcriptionists need to understand the context of recordings in order to consistently generate above average quality transcripts. A transcriptionist will often need to make a judgment call because the recording is not clear.
  • Good grammar, spelling, and vocabulary
    Transcriptionists may need to fix the grammar and spelling of the recording. Good grammar and spelling skills will increase the transcript quality, resulting in loyal and higher paying customers.  Transcriptionists will encounter not-so-common words while transcribing. Thus, a good vocabulary will help complete the transcription quickly.
  • Microsoft Word knowledge
    Proficiency in MS Word is required for a good transcriptionist. Clients not only expect accurate transcripts in MS Word format, they quite often ask for the transcript to be sent in the specific format that they use. Transcriptionists will need to be able to convert transcripts to customer-preferred formats.
  • Typing skills
    It may come as a surprise that this is listed last because of the conventional wisdom that a transcriptionist needs to be a fast typist. Fast typing helps earn more per hour, but this skill is NOT needed to start as a transcriptionist. Transcriptionists are paid by production, so slow typing will result in less income, but will still be a decent income so long as transcripts are accurate and speed is moderate.

The following tools are needed to become a work-from-home general transcriptionist

Computer, Software, and Work Station

A computer with a printer hook-up and a comfortable space for working is needed to become a work-from-home general transcriptionist. The computer needs to either have speakers or high-quality headphones for listening to the recording. We suggest headphones because it will not disturb other people.

The computer should have at least Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel software. MS Outlook is desired for communication with clients and for setting alerts about the impending deadlines of projects.

Transcription software such as FTW Transcriber or ExpressScribe is needed to play the recordings for transcription and are compatible with other transcription equipment.

High-Speed Internet Access

Transcriptionists will be downloading and uploading files from the client websites and other FTP sources. Many of the files will be large. Transcriptionists will be unable to download voice files and transcribe them in time, especially with tight deadlines, without access to a high-speed internet connection.

Transcribing Equipment

  • Foot pedal to control speed, reverse, and fast forward digital recordings.
  • Headphones

There are several free online websites that can help you learn how to type fast and accurately. Many transcription companies either have their own training program or will pay for the training of transcriptionists.

The best option is to take lessons and get a certificate of course completion. If you have never transcribed before, or if your work was rejected by any professional transcription company when you took their test, you probably require training.

Get complete online training to become a successful work-from-home general transcriptionist for a modest fee at After completing the course with a qualifying final course score, become an intern to build credibility and gain access to the transcription industry.

There are several choices when starting out in the work-from-home transcription business.

  • Become an independent contractor transcriptionist for end users – businesses, research companies, etc.
  • Work for brick and mortar transcription companies
  • Work from home for online transcription companies worldwide
  • Become a virtual-transcriptionist for end users worldwide
  • Start a transcription business

Become an Independent Contractor Transcriptionist

Many clients want to hire transcriptionists as independent contractors (IC) and pay by performance. It could be a work-from-home or client’s location job opportunity.

Transcriptionists will need to demonstrate their qualification and experience in order to get hired as an IC transcriptionist. A profile highlighting experience on professional networking websites like and on social media sites like should be done by every transcriptionist who wants to work from home.

Earning a certificate from Transcription Certification Institute will help build credibility as a qualified General Transcriptionist.

Work for Brick and Mortar Transcription Companies

There are brick and mortar transcription companies looking for general transcriptionists. There are directories of transcriptionists available on the web that may help identify any transcription company in the area of transcriptionist choice. A completed profile, certification of typing speed and accuracy, and certificate of completion from TCI would help you compete with other candidates.

A job that pays an hourly wage will be available based on your typing speed and accuracy. Free typing practice is available at These companies usually test for speed and accuracy before hiring.

Work for Online Transcription Companies Worldwide

A new transcriptionist may have a better shot at finding transcription work as an IC transcriptionist at online transcription companies. These are typically work-from-home jobs, where companies pay by performance. The only thing that counts here is accuracy and timely delivery.

Most successful online transcription companies are always looking for qualified transcriptionists. An online profile at websites like, etc. could be helpful when applying for an IC transcriptionist position at online transcription companies.

Transcriptionists will typically need to take their test and pass it in order to get work from online transcription companies.

Become a Virtual Transcriptionist for Clients Worldwide

A good portion of transcription customers prefer to work with one transcriptionist instead of dealing with a company so the transcriptionist gets used to their style and special requirements.

Chances of getting a Virtual Transcriptionist job will increase dramatically if a transcriptionist can also provide Virtual Assistant services to their client.

Start Your Own Transcription Business

The following is required to start a transcription service business:

  • Website
  • Marketing
    • Web marketing
    • Local direct marketing by mail and phone
  • Execution of work

Starting your own transcription business requires juggling several balls at a time. It requires a business plan, a website, internet and offline marketing, actual execution of work, and perhaps a need to hire qualified transcriptionists depending on how much you want your business to grow.

Transcriptionists should think about starting their own business only if they plan to become a large transcription services provider. Contact companies that help build transcription websites and market them. These companies can be found by searching for online consultants at search portals like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. Make sure the company has developed and marketed transcription websites. One company that has built several transcription websites is


Whether working from home as a general transcriptionist or running a full-service transcription business, here are some marketing activities that will bring more customers:

  • Start with aggressive rates and offer 100% satisfaction or money back guarantees.
  • Advertise transcription services on Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Local level advertising can be inexpensive and could cost as little as $100 a month or even less for certain areas.
  • List the business on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
  • List the services on
  • Create a profile on social media sites like,,, etc.
  • Direct mail to the target customers.
  • Register with freelance services like,, etc. and bid for jobs posted on those sites.
  • Ask existing clients for a referral.

We suggest that you allocate a marketing budget when you start your transcription business and let professionals like handle your marketing. A professional marketing company will help you accelerate your revenue dramatically.

How much you earn as a general transcriptionist will depend on your skills, marketing success, and perseverance.

Below are some earnings estimates for general transcription work (PLEASE NOTE – THESE ARE JUST ESTIMATES, NOT GUARANTEES)

Work-from-home Transcriptionist

Pay-by-Hour transcriptionist:

Pay hour fees could be anywhere from $10 to $35 and up, depending on skill set and client. Transcriptionists will need to demonstrate superior typing speed and accuracy of typing in order to get transcription jobs that pay hourly.

Pay-by-Performance transcriptionist:

Pay-by-Performance transcriptionist gets paid for the work completed. Below are some typical general transcription rates:

  • By minute of recording – $75 to $200 for one-hour of recording transcribed.
  • By lines of the final transcript – 5 cents to 10 cents per line transcribed.