Transcription can be a great way to work from home. When my husband was in grad school and my kids were young, I worked from home as a transcriptionist part-time and earned $15-$25/hour.
But just because I transcription was a good fit for me, doesn’t make it a good fit for everyone. So how do you know if transcription is a good career choice for you? What skills do transcriptionists need to have – or develop – to succeed?
I’ve put together my list of seven skills transcriptionists need so they can earn income and work from home as a transcriptionist.
Good listening and decoding skills
Have you ever played the game Mad Gab? In this game, someone has a phrase of small unrelated words that when you say them faster, they sound like a different phrase. And who usually wins this game? The person with the best listening and decoding skills.
Transcription can sometimes feel like that game. You’re trying to decode what people say. And for most of your files, it’s easy enough. But sometimes it is hard. Like when there’s poor audio, or multiple people speaking over each other, or someone speaking with an accent that’s not your native language. This is where your listening and decoding skills come in handy.
While some people have a
Excellent punctuation and spelling
Do you know the difficult between compliment and complement or accept and except? Do you know when to use commas and whether question marks go inside or outside of quotations? Transcriptionists are familiar with how to correctly spell words and where to put punctuation. And if they don’t know it off the top of their heads, they know where to find the answer.
If you struggle with grammar and spelling, then don’t worry. You can brush up on your skills before applying for a transcription job.
Attention to detail
A good transcriptionist pays attention to detail. Every transcription company or client has their own way they want to handle inaudibles, guesses, labeling speakers, etc. And most transcriptionists work with more than one company. That means you need to keep track of each company’s preferences and guidelines.
Since most transcriptionists are paid by the audio minute or page, the faster you type the more you’ll earn. If you’re slow, you can improve your typing speed through practice. Aim to type at least 65-70 WPM to start out. You can practice at websites like ratatype.com or you can practice on real audio files.
Another way to increase your typing speed is by using templates and text expanders. Text expanders are keyboard shortcuts you set up so that you type fewer keys when you’re typing words and phrases.
Having a good memory not only helps you with using correct punctuation and following your company’s instructions. It also helps you type faster. If you can hold more words and phrases accurately in your mind before pausing your audio, you’ll pause your audio less. This will help you transcribe faster.
Transcription should be easy, right? After all, you may be thinking, you’re just typing. And while most people can transcribe an audio file, it takes hard work and dedication to be a good transcriptionist.
You’ll have nights where you’re staying up working on a hard file or you can’t understand speakers talking over each other. Maybe you’re researching scientific terms for a college lecture. Or perhaps your work is slow and you need to find new companies or clients to work with.
By persevering, you’ll become a better transcriptionist and able to take on higher paying work. You’ll gain the respect of those you work with – and you’ll prove to yourself that you can do hard things.
Finally, good transcriptionists know how to research and learn new skills. If you’re new, you’ll need to learn how to use audio players like Express Scribe to transcribe audio. Or how to clean up poor audio in software like Audacity or Goldwave. You’ll also need to research to find companies to work for.
When you’re working on a file you may need to research:
- Spelling of people, places, companies, etc.
- Proper grammar to use
- Homophone usage (for example, except versus accept)
By honing your research skills, you can quickly find the answers you need so you can get back to typing.
Want to learn how to improve your transcription skills?
If transcription sounds like it’s a good fit for your skills, but you just need a little guidance, check out my Udemy course Transcription Skills: Learn Beginning to Advanced Skills. This course will teach you the basics of transcription all the way up to increasing your productivity and working with hard files. It includes over an hour of practice audio for you to fine tune your skills.