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What Is a Transcriptionist in 2024? Interesting Difference Between Typists and Stenographers

Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher
Posted in Zoom Sep 8 · 8 Sep, 2022
What Is a Transcriptionist in 2024? Interesting Difference Between Typists and Stenographers

Businesses often need someone to type documents, correspondence, notes, and other communication materials. However, people usually confuse the responsibilities of a typist, transcriptionist, and stenographer when seeking their services. While these professions have similarities, they vary significantly in terms of experience, duties, and skills.

Now, you might ask, “What is a transcriptionist?” You may even wonder how they are different from a typist and a stenographer.

Before you decide to hire someone, you must learn how to distinguish the difference between a typist, a transcriptionist, and a stenographer. In this article, we’ll discuss how to find the right person for your business needs.

What Is a Typist?

A typist uses a computer to encode documents. Companies possibly provide them with other administrative duties like answering calls or organizing files. They need to possess fast typing skills while avoiding common grammatical or spelling errors. Since the technology is available to take care of complex tasks, it’s rare for businesses to hire full-time typists. 

If you’re planning to hire a professional typist, you need to consider the following qualities:

  • Computer knowledge – Typists must know how to navigate computers, especially when they are hired remotely. They need to know how to troubleshoot common technical issues, install software, and upload files.
  • Accurate and fast typing – As we’ve mentioned, the typing speed proficiency and level of accuracy determine the skills of a typist. Entry-level professionals should be able to type at least 60 to 65 words per minute (wpm).
  • Excellent proofreading skills and hearing – If you’ll need the typist to transcribe audio files, they must clearly understand what the speaker says. They must be able to type whatever the person is saying regardless of their accent.

What Is a Transcriptionist?

Now, a transcriptionist may be similar to a typist, but there are more skilled in a specific field. Their services are useful in producing accurate correspondence and reports. While stenographers have to be present at the event, a transcriptionist can work from anywhere as long as they have the audio or video files.

Are you still asking, “What is a transcriptionist?” Well, look at them as subject matter experts. For instance, those who venture into medical transcription usually have previous experience in healthcare. Other common specialties include academic, legal, and court transcription.

What is a transcriptionist? Here are qualities they possess:

  • Proficiency in grammar, spelling, and punctuation – Some transcription projects require verbatim text. Meanwhile, others involve clean transcripts that are easy to read. So, a professional transcriptionist must be able to produce grammatically correct and error-free content at all times.
  • Sharp memory – Active listening and sharp memory are great qualities for a transcriber to have. With a sharp memory, the person won’t need to frequently pause between the recording. They won’t miss a single word even if they’re typing longer dialogs. 
  • Privacy adherence – Organizations have security and privacy guidelines for recordings, conversations, and meetings. A transcriptionist should adhere to those rules and protect the information to avoid data leaks.
  • Proofreading and listening skills – When working on audio and video files, transcriptionists must be able to type what the speaker says despite their pronounced accent.

What is a transcriptionist? Well, here are the different types you may encounter:

  • Academic transcriptionist – transcribes research interviews for academic purposes.
  • Medical transcriptionist – knowledgeable in pharmacology and medical terminology, as well as in various types of medical reports.
  • Law enforcement transcriptionist – transcribes witness/suspect interviews, recorded statements, 911 calls, undercover wires, jail calls, and more. They are also knowledgeable in gang lingo and law enforcement terminology.
  • Legal transcriptionist – proficient in court document formatting and knowledgeable in legal terminology.
  • Financial transcriptionist – knowledgeable in financial reports and possesses client relation skills.

As we’ve mentioned, transcriptionists usually have experience working in their field of specialization. For example, most legal transcriptionists are paralegals, lawyers, or law students. 

Since transcriptionists convert audio and video recordings into accurate text, they work with computers. They boost their typing speed by using a foot pedal that allows them to play, pause, or rewind the recording without using their hands. Companies can hire full-time transcriptionists or seek the services of third-party contractors.

What Is a Stenographer?

People usually describe a stenographer when they’re asked, “What is a transcriptionist?” After all, they share similar skills. However, the big difference is that stenographers have to transcribe conversations in real-time. This means that they have to be present at the event to keep track of discussions.

The average typing speed of stenographers is about 300 words per minute. They are able to achieve this by using a steno machine that types in shorthand. Stenographers can ensure quick transcription by focusing on writing as fast as a person’s speaking rate. When hiring a stenographer, you need to review the following qualities:

  • Steno code knowledge – Stenography is significantly different from regular typing. There’s a special lettered code that the steno machine deciphers into English. Professional stenographers have memorized this code.
  • Tenacity and passion – To remain competitive, a stenographer consistently practices their hearing and typing skills. The job is usually challenging, especially since events in courtrooms can be unexpected and dynamic. However, a stenographer stays passionate about their job and continues to improve their skills.
  • Curiosity – While most stenographers work in the legal field, they need to develop an eagerness to learn about the diverse world. Because they must understand and capture the rich vocabulary from various walks of life.

What Is a Transcriptionist? Should You Hire a Stenographer or Typist Instead?

It’s important to answer the question, “What is a transcriptionist?” After all, the person you hire will depend on what your company needs. If you need someone who can perform admin tasks and type documents quickly, you’ll need a typist. Now, if you need someone who will transcribe conferences, court hearings, or important meetings in real-time, you can hire a stenographer. Finally, if you need to convert audio or video recordings into text, a transcriptionist can do the job. 

Wrapping Up

Several factors will determine whether you’ll need to hire a typist, a transcriptionist, or a stenographer. Most of the time, the biggest thing you need to consider is your budget and the volume of work. 

Now, if you need recording transcripts, simplify the entire process by using GoTranscript’s servicers. No matter what field you’re in, you can expect legal-grade accuracy. After all, the texts are 100% generated by professional human transcriptionists.