Working as a professional transcriptionist could be a fantastic option for those looking for a flexible career path that allows them to work from home at their own pace. This career opportunity is especially beneficial for young parents who want to strike a solid work-life balance while remaining involved in their children’s lives.
Sometimes, you may be required to work on-site as a professional transcriptionist in the legal or medical arena. If this is the case, you could work at a courtroom or a medical center. However, it depends on your professional preferences. Once you begin your professional career in this field, you’ll have a wide range of options to pick from.
Indeed, many people are drawn to this opportunity because of the freedom it provides to set their own hours and work from the comfort of their own homes. But, there is one more advantage to working in this field. Some transcriptionists choose to work full-time, while others prefer to work part-time. And this adds one more layer to the flexibility transcriptionists enjoy.
For moms and moms-to-be, this additional perk is a terrific opportunity. As the demand for transcriptionists has been steadily increasing for years, there is an endless supply of work available. And it’s entirely based on your skills. That is, your earning potential will rise in tandem with your level of expertise in this field.
How Do You Get Started as a Transcriptionist?
You might be wondering what qualifications you’ll need in order to pursue this line of work. To answer this question, let’s see what constitutes a high-quality transcription. A high-quality transcript is clear, precise, and free of grammatical and spelling mistakes. But, before we list the necessary skills you need to develop, let’s take a look at what types of transcriptionists are out there.
Before deciding what skills, you need to work on improving, you should familiarize yourself with different types of transcriptions. If you’re new to transcription, general transcription is the ideal place to start. This form of transcription doesn’t require specialized knowledge. It simply converts audio or video recordings into text without including specific terminology or phrases.
The type of work you could do as a general transcriptionist could fall into one of these categories: podcasts, executive speeches, conference calls, business meetings, lectures, discussions, and so on. You might even be able to get work where you create closed captions for movies or television shows. Real-time captioning for live events or broadcasts is a great opportunity to put your abilities to use.
Sometimes, general transcriptionists may discover a plethora of work as CART transcriptionists. The abbreviation means “Communication Access Real-Time Translation.” This phrase is most commonly used to describe transcription work for people who experience hearing difficulties or are deaf. The job of a CART transcriptionist entails more than just transcribing words. It also included non-verbal sounds like sighs, moans, and laughter.
If you want to work as a medical transcriptionist, you’ll need some additional skills to set yourself apart from the competition. Prior work experience or certification are must-have prerequisites. It is necessary to demonstrate your expertise in order to prove your credentials for this specific field of transcription. And if you are a registered nurse, you can start working as a medical transcriptionist right away.
If you are just beginning your career in the medical sector, such as a recent college graduate, it may be beneficial to brush up on your medical terminology. After finishing your studies, you might find a medical transcription school to learn more about medical language and the phrases relevant to your specialty. As a result, you’ll be better suited for this position.
As a medical transcriptionist, you may work in various institutions or private offices, transcribing doctors’ or other health practitioners’ recorded dictations. Additionally, you may be required to work in labs, surgical suites, or other medical facilities. You can also transcribe for a number of different physicians by conducting medical transcriptions at home. Working part-time is also an option for some medical transcriptionists.
There is one more option if you want to work as a transcriptionist with some sort of specialty. In fact, you could work as a legal transcriptionist. This is a large field, and you could work in a courtroom, a police station, a law office, or anywhere else that needs a legal transcriber. You will be in charge of ensuring that court records are transcribed and saved as written documents, either physically or electronically.
Legal transcribers must be well-versed in the law and legal terminology. Although legal degrees aren’t always required, a license or certification is almost always necessary. As a result, earning a certificate in this field from a reputable school can serve as your entry point. To gain the necessary experience, you could also look for an internship in a law practice or a small business legal unit.
If you are already working as a paralegal or legal assistant and want to pursue a career as a legal transcriptionist, there are a few steps you must take. For example, to become a reputable court reporter, you must learn how to transcribe before taking the first step toward accreditation. You might want to read through this guide and learn more about the skills you’ll need to succeed.
Good typing skills are of the utmost importance for a reputable transcriptionist. You should learn to type fast and accurately in order to be productive and build a successful career in this field. Having to go back in order to find and fix every single mistake can be frustrating and will slow your work. To avoid this scenario, it’s critical to improve your typing technique.
Your first goal is to type accurately. This could be possible if you learn the proper hand positioning. That means typing with all your fingers instead of just two. This is a skill that you need to master in order to become an efficient typist. Remember that with practice, you can master this technique in a matter of weeks.
You may consider taking a typing course to learn the proper hand position. The goal is to learn to type without looking at the keyboard. To do that, your pointer fingers should be positioned on the F and the J keys. The rest of your fingers will fall naturally on the other keys as you transcribe. When you type without looking at your fingers, it’s called “touch typing.”
After you’ve learned the art of typing accurately and properly, you’ll need to master the art of speed. The average typing speed is 65 words per minute. To be a successful transcriptionist, however, you should be able to type at speeds of 75 to 90 words per minute. If you want to find out what your typing speed is, you can take one of the many free typing tests available online.
Even though speed is important, don’t focus on improving speed first. In order to be a successful transcriptionist, you should concentrate on accuracy, then speed. The reason for that is that all the mistakes you make while typing will cause you to lose a lot of time. Therefore, your goal at the beginning is to find an entry job where your typing speed is not of the utmost importance. Through practice, you will master this technique and learn this essential skill.
Transcriptionists must have excellent language skills because they must edit and proofread their work. Sometimes, your client will ask you to write a verbatim transcript, which may contain grammatical errors. This type of transcript is written in the same way that the speaker in your recording speaks. If you have poor editing and proofreading skills, it will affect your workload. A high standard of work will attract new clients. The better the quality of your work is, the more clients you will get.
The majority of your clients, on the other hand, will request a clean version or non-verbatim that is completely free of grammatical or spelling mistakes. Therefore, you should be fluent in the language you are transcribing. It means that you are able to understand the context properly, have a strong vocabulary, and know the grammatical rules.
You must be well versed in a language to be able to distinguish homophones and comprehend what a speaker is saying. You should be able to do that regardless of whether they are native speakers or speaking in a dialect. Delivering a high-quality transcription also means being able to decide what the correct usage is. You can make a better decision if you understand some of the rules.
If you want to take your language skills to the next level, consider taking some language courses or enrolling in a reputable language school in your area. Some people find it beneficial to be able to proofread other people’s work for free. Others find that watching movies or reading books can help them improve their command of the language.
Whatever method you choose, keep in mind that building language skills needs time. So don’t give up if you are struggling with it. Just make sure that you schedule enough time to practice each day. You can also grow your vocabulary and learn new phrases in your spare time while watching TV shows, listening to your favorite podcasts, or enjoying your audiobooks. No matter what method you choose, it’s going to take a while to take your language skills to the next level.
There is no substitute for these abilities. You can’t overstate the importance of this. To be a good listener, you need to be able to concentrate on the speaker. Listening skills not only allow you to focus on what the other person is saying, but they also allow you to grasp the broader context. When you understand what the topic is about, you will be able to transcribe the recording easily. It is no wonder because a high-quality transcript needs thorough understanding.
What can you do, though, to increase your listening abilities? Distractions are the first thing you’ll want to get rid of. To accomplish this, turn off your phone, find a quiet place, and invest in a good pair of headphones. Avoid using earbuds because they cannot block out outside noise. It is also highly recommended to do something else and avoid multitasking in general while listening.
You can also be better able to focus if you get enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise. Sometimes, even taking a short walk around your block may help you focus. Other things that can help you concentrate more effectively are making a schedule, setting goals, and taking regular breaks. You could try the Pomodoro method, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.
Since accuracy in transcription is so critical, being a good listener is an absolute necessity. It couldn’t be emphasized enough when transcribing recordings with multiple speakers or when the recording quality is poor. You may also find it difficult to concentrate when transcribing audio with a non-native speaker.
The best way to accurately transcribe a conversation is to focus on one speaker at a time and pay attention to what they are saying. Sometimes, you may find it beneficial to split the recording into short segments. Focusing on small blocks at a time helps you transcribe your recording as accurately as possible. This may come in handy when you transcribe a conversation with a non-native speaker.
Aside from the basic skills that we’ve already mentioned, successful transcriptionists must have a variety of skills that help them produce a high-quality transcription. As a general rule, they include abilities like time-management skills, flexibility, research skills, attention to detail, a sharp memory, determination, diligence, and so on. Some of them are more significant than others, and we’ll examine those in this piece.
1. Computer Skills
There are no jobs today that don’t involve some computer skills. And transcription is no different. Every transcriber needs to master many computer skills in order to get their jobs done. Therefore, to become a successful transcriber, it’s important to understand as much as you can about technology.
Besides other essential skills, a successful transcriber should know how to work in Word, how to use transcription software, and how to use Google Docs. There are also additional skills that can make their work more efficient, such as the ability to use Grammarly, Slack, Asana, and other tools. What application a transcriber will use depends on their clients.
2. Research Skills
In order to deliver high-quality transcripts, even generalists like transcribers need to do some research. The volume and quality of research largely depend on the niche in which they work. They need to conduct extensive research in situations when they transcribe recordings from a specific industry that uses industry-specific language and terminology.
Another case when generalist transcribers should do research is when they transcribe recordings with speakers who have a strong dialect that is difficult to understand. Doing some research beforehand helps them pick up on regional idioms and accents. This way, a transcriber can save time by not having to waste it looking for the proper word or phrase.
3. Organizational Skills
Independent contractors account for the vast majority of transcribers. In most cases, this means that you’ll be doing the work on your own. This requires strong organizing skills. That includes applying some time-management strategies, creating to-do lists every day, and keeping a record of the assignments you’ve completed.
Perfection Comes With Practice
Now that you know what skills you’ll need to succeed as a transcriptionist, the next step is to put them into practice. This is a crucial part of the process that applies to every career. If you practice regularly, you will increase your words-per-minute speed and make fewer mistakes. Both of these elements will result in better work and a faster turnaround time.
According to Geoff Colvin’s theory, high-performers are distinguished from the rest of us by their commitment to practice and their willingness to receive feedback on a frequent basis. In his book, Talent Is Overrated, Colvin explainsthat 10,000 hours of this type of practice is required to master anything you set your mind to. To become truly great at what they do, all great athletes, musicians, writers, and other professionals have to put in the required 10.000 hours of practice.
The Bottom Line
Even though many employers don’t require a diploma to work as a transcriptionist, certain competencies are still required. Your skills, particularly your typing, language, and listening skills make you a competent transcriptionist. So, your major goal should be to perfect these skills before applying for transcription jobs.
Alternatively, you may inquire about which companies employ inexperienced transcribers. It could be a great opportunity for you even though they don’t offer competitive rates for your services. However, it could be a chance for you to break into the field of professional transcription.
And don’t forget to put in some practice time. The more you practice, the more proficient you’ll become. Your skills are your golden ticket to success. If you already have excellent skills and want to go to the next level, learn everything you can about your field and its business processes.
Whether you are a professional or an aspiring transcriber, you may find that employing tools to speed up your transcription process is highly beneficial. When technology and human skills combine, they are always more powerful than either one alone. Consider using GoTranscript software, a reliable program that saves your work automatically every 30 seconds and allows you to pause your recording while typing.