Today, we are going to discuss everything important that has to do with online transcription jobs. This means not only knowing where to look for the legit job postings but also how to prepare and learn the tools and skills needed to become a successful transcriptionist.
But first, an important question: are all transcription jobs online created equally?
The short answer is no, they are not. General transcription tasks are definitely more commonly in-demand, hiring-wise, compared to online legal and medical transcription jobs. This is because the latter two are much more specialized and often require some rigorous training prior to hiring. Medical and legal transcriptionists are almost always expected to be certified by testers, too. The words, terms, and phrases that come with transcribing medical or legal documents and files require a deeper understanding and context so that nothing is left to chance. This is why those with either a medical or legal background (or know the jargon) are usually preferred for jobs like these.
So with that in mind, we are going to focus more on general transcription jobs in this article. It’s not only that there is a huge and constant demand for it. Most businesses and institutions require some form of it, too – and not just in the legal and medical fields. That is why there is a helpful resource towards the end of this blog post on the best sources to get online transcription jobs, with a focus on general transcribing. It is geared for those who want to take on this particular remote task without having to undergo strictly pre-required training before getting hired.
Online Transcription Jobs for Beginners
As with all things that are new, transcription work could sound initially intimidating. If you have no previous work history as a transcriptionist, don’t fret. In fact, plenty of remote workers actually chalk up transcription as their introduction to the world of freelance or home-based work! The reasons for this vary, but some of the most common ones are:
- Many companies and institutions often require transcription work, so it’s not a seasonal kind of job.
- There is very little to no training involved (though it would still depend on the client).
- Practically anybody can do it in the comfort of their own home (or elsewhere), from students to work-at-home moms.
- The hours are mostly flexible, thus ensuring some work-life balance.
- Most transcription job postings do not require prior experience from workers (but again, this will depend on the client’s requirements).
- It can be an in-between job in lieu of something more personally fulfilling and lucrative.
- It is one of the most practical and viable options for introverted people.
- It pays decently (and typically every week).
That is not to say that there are no challenges with this particular job, though. There are, and there will be. As the section in the next paragraphs aims to discuss, there will be some investment involved with remote transcription work. There is no guesswork as far as transcription jobs go, with common sense and research playing big roles in the process. As well, having the right attitude and expectations will help you become a successful transcriptionist who might actually just grow to love this particular job!
What to Avoid When Looking for Online Transcription Jobs
At this point, we must first discuss all the things to avoid when you are on the hunt for transcription work. All its benefits mentioned above might appeal to you – but then again, it could sound too attractive to the point that you might unwittingly get conned by opportunists everywhere.
Yes, job scammers abound and they almost always prey on beginner freelancers with the promise of such things as easy work for high pay, a training package you have to pay for before you even get employed, and other bogus promises that seem either too good to be true or suspicious. So what are the things you should watch out for in the pursuit of legit transcription work? Consider the following.
- There are consistently bad reviews
While reviews in themselves are not the end-all of how to determine if a site or company is trustworthy, it pays to heed them – especially if the reviews are consistently bad or negative! Go to trusted review forums and blogs where people leave honest feedback along with proof of employment and other files for verification. Do not rely on a site’s “testimonies” page alone – most of the reviews there are not reliable and cannot be verified for authenticity.
- There is no registration with the SEC or BBB
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Better Business Bureau both have websites to easily refer to should you be sitting on the fence about a particular source of transcription work. If the site or company isn’t searchable, that’s a red flag. The trustworthy ones would typically be registered and have enough information to gather intel from. Otherwise, steer clear and look for work elsewhere.
- There is a promise of a transcription certificate – for a payment
Some transcription companies do offer authentic training and certification programs because they want to invest in long-term transcriptionists on their team. However, those fly-by-night ones (like ones not registered with the SEC, for instance) would most likely ask for payment so you could be certified. The program could be a bogus one and you would be “certified” by an entity or body that is not officially registered or recognized by proper regulatory authorities. Again, it’s best to do your research beforehand and be extra-suspicious and vigilant if the issue of payment comes up.
- There is a test that runs for more than a minute
This will require you to be more discerning, of course. Most job portals for online transcriptionists do require some prerequisite testing and training to determine eligibility and skills. However, it’s alright to get suspicious if the test runs for more than a minute or so. Around a minute is just enough to already see if you’re a good fit with a client or company and if you can more or less follow their style guide and other rules. More than that, and it becomes suspiciously like unpaid work they can use without the need to hire you!
- There is no binding contract involved
With any job – even if it’s part-time or remote – always ask for a contract that stipulates everything expected of you, and what you expect the employer to do for you, in turn. This way, you will be on the same page as to expectations, work load, schedules, deadlines, payment, client expectations, style guides and rules, turnaround time, and other pertinent details. It will also help you avoid unlawful termination or scope creep (we will get to this in a bit) and anything else that could make your transcription career a miserable experience.
- There is scope creep
Most freelancers encounter this unfortunate phenomenon at some point in their career, which is sad. Scope creep is any kind of work that has nothing to do with the main task at hand – which is transcription, plain and simple. Sure, some proofreading, researching, verification, editing, formatting, and other similar tasks are expected to be part and parcel of transcription work, but those are all fine and within reason. What isn’t okay is having a transcriptionist suddenly do bogus work like affiliate marketing, networking, and processing payments, or similar. Those are plainly scams that must be avoided,
- You are asked to pay an upfront fee
As previously mentioned, transcription work is one of the most highly available jobs for online and remote workers. There is no shortage of it. So if you come upon a site or company that requires you to pay a placement fee upfront so you can be assured of a job, run very far away, fast! This goes true for those who will also ask you to pay you “proprietary” software and programs – those should be paid for and shouldered by the employer.
Don’t even give them the time of day or a chance to give you a pitch about the importance of paying them in order to secure a job. It simply doesn’t make sense to shell out money in order to earn an income.
- You are asked for sensitive and personal information
No legit transcription job will require you to disclose highly sensitive and confidential details like your credit card information or Social Security number. A reliable and trustworthy company will already have secure payment gateways and processes in place to ensure easy and fast payment for all their employees without encroaching on your privacy and personal security.
Tools and Skills Needed for Transcription Jobs Online
Now it’s time to make a checklist of all the important stuff you will need – including tools and the right attitude – to embark on your journey to being a good transcription worker. Not every item in this list is a must, though. Some jobs will require them, while others will not. Still, it’s good to be thorough to cover all the bases.
Please note that while some of the things in the list below would appear tongue-in-cheek, everything written here is based on a typical general transcriptionist’s requirements.
- Your own laptop or personal computer
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Not having your own computer setup will prove to be inconvenient as a transcriptionist. This is especially true if certain files have to be submitted within a strict time frame or deadline. You might also be expected to install certain software for your job. If you keep borrowing a public (or someone else’s) laptop or computer, you will not likely produce accurate results, thus compromising the quality of your output – and consequently, your salary.
- Adequate typing skills
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Most transcription jobs online would require at least 50-60 WPM typing speed and accuracy. If you fall below that skill, you will not likely be hired. Speedy typists usually also fetch higher rates than their slower counterparts, too. So if you think your typing skills need brushing up, go ahead and practice before applying. With constant practice, you will soon be speeding up your typing skills and hitting a higher WPM rate.
- Quality headphones or a headset
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Verbatim transcripts can be more accurate with the use of a good set of headphones or a headset, compared to just listening to an audio recording via speakers. The files you will be transcribing can be anything from a short voice call that is under a minute, to longer audio recordings of lectures or interviews running for a couple of hours. This means a comfortable headset is needed.
It could be tempting to go with a cheaper headset, but mid-range to high-quality ones are ideal for long periods. Not only will flimsy headphones prove to be uncomfortable, but they could also ruin your hearing! With that in mind, it’s best to get good quality and comfortable headphones to prepare yourself for any kind of file you could be assigned to.
- A quiet place to work
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Again, it is important to underline how transcription clients value accuracy and correct context. Distractions like noise and other people (or pets) could jeopardize this. A quiet workplace can ensure a faster turnaround time, too. So set aside a quiet nook or room for when you have to do transcription work, and make sure to shut off or avoid potential distractions – technological, living, or otherwise. Then set it up as you would normally do in an office cubicle, but with soothing lighting and a comfortable chair and desk. This will put you in serious work mode right away.
- Steady Internet connection
Is it a must? Not necessarily. You can always accomplish your transcription work without having to be online all the time. All you need is your computer, word processing software, headphone/headset, and other tools of the trade.
However, it’s still a good idea to have a reliable Internet connection for speedier communication and updates with your client, and when you need to receive or send out files. And – with the secure and confidential nature of most of the clients for transcription – it is ideal to get your own secure Internet connection and not merely rely on public WiFi or network for these things.
- Training certification
Is it a must? No, it isn’t. It will depend on the client, though. Some clients are totally fine with beginner transcriptionists as long as you meet their minimum words-per-minute, style guide, and other pre-requisites like proficiency and skills tests. Some are also willing to provide the equivalent of on-the-job training, with or without certification. With this particular issue, though, you must learn to discern. See if the site or company offering the certification is trustworthy. It’s easy enough to do with a bit of research with the SEC or BBB, or by looking up honest feedback in reliable forums and blogs.
- Foot pedal
Is it a must? No, it isn’t. However, it is also a sound investment should you wish to continue being a transcription professional in the long run, or aim to take on a bigger workload. A foot pedal does help to speed up transcription work. Otherwise, if you are an accomplished typist, it would be enough to know how to use the pause button for transcription, or learning several hotkeys if you are using a particular audio software or app.
- Audio software
Is it a must? Not necessarily. For the most part, all content in the audio file should be transcribed as-is, so having good hearing and the right kind of headset should already help you determine the words correctly.
However, some companies might ask you to use a proprietary or paid audio software or recommend downloading a free one to make the work faster and more accurate. If you are not sure about how to use a particular software, do prior research and start practicing. It will make your work faster and easier, and you will soon know how to work with it like a pro.
- Ergonomic desk and chair
Is it a must? Yes, it is. As with a good and comfortable headset, sitting up in comfort and having a desk that discourages carpal tunnel are necessities for this job. An ergonomic chair that allows you to work with your feet flat on the floor is best. This is especially helpful if you are going to use a foot pedal for transcribing. The desk should be at the right height for you to rest your wrists and arms comfortably without chafing or getting strained. The bottom line is, if you do not feel any discomfort while working, there is likely to be maximum efficiency with your output.
- Word processor
Is it a must? Yes, it is. A word processor program is necessary for the audio file to become written and readable for the client, after all. If your computer already has one, then it’s all good. It’s best to work with the apps and software you are already familiar and comfortable with.
However, you can always use free and open-source software if you need it. Formatting is also important at this point. If the client asks for specific formats like .doc or .docx, you have to comply via the proper word processing program you are using.
- Grammar and spell check
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Most transcription jobs require a high percentage of accuracy (often as high as 99%) so misspelled words and terminology have no room here. Those with a good grasp of grammar and spelling are also preferred, with native English speakers typically getting the lion’s share of work.
However, some clients require verbatim transcription – meaning even misspoken words, phrases, and other grammatical errors should be typed as-is. Sometimes, even stutters and verbal tics have to be typed as they are heard. When in doubt, refer to the client’s style guide and rules for these specific cases.
- Knowledge of a second language
Is it a must? No, it isn’t. Unless the transcription job is specifically for somebody who knows a particular language, there’s really no need to learn a new one just for the task at hand. And while some audio files could feature another language in it, you are not required to learn a new one just to put it into context.
The best ways to clarify an unknown phrase or word is to use aural clues, do your own research, refer to a dictionary, take the unclear section into context, or straight-out ask someone who is in the know (like a project coordinator or account executive if they are available). But to be sure, always refer to the client’s style guide and rules for such occurrences.
- Proper hearing skills
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Along with decent typing skills, good and sharp hearing ranks a close second to a must with transcription work. Some of the audio files will not be as sharp as you would want them to be, so having excellent auditory skills and processing ability will come in handy. There will be words you aren’t sure of, so along with good hearing, knowing how to pick up context clues is also a preferred (and much-valued) trait of a transcriptionist.
Is it a must? Yes, it is. While this particular virtue is essential to practically any kind of job, being patient with transcription work is absolute. There will be many pauses and starts, wondering what a particular phrase or word means in a sentence or section, and basically sitting hours on end trying to make sense of someone’s spoken words. The tasks can sometimes feel repetitive and rote, too. The bottom line is, this is not a job for someone who is impatient and easily bored or frustrated.
- Most recent resume or work history
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Even online transcription jobs for beginners would require applicants to highlight how fast they have completed tasks of the same nature, and which programs, software, and apps for transcription they have experience with or are skilled at using. While beginners and those who have no previous experience of being transcriptionists are welcome in most job portals, clients would still prefer those who are confident in their typing skills and have already done excellent transcription work in the past. So when putting together your resume or work history to apply for transcription, make sure to mention similar work you have done in the past – including editing, proofreading, data entry, translation, and the like.
- Online communication software or app
Is it a must? Yes, it is. Your client will need to get updates on how you are meeting deadlines, or a project coordinator could be ready to help you with certain issues and clarifications. Communication software is apt for this. File transfer and time tracker apps could also be part of the package, so make sure you comply. You might not need to use it all the time, but having it in place will make things go smoother and communicating between parties much easier.
Where To Find The Best Online Transcription Jobs
Now we have gotten to the resources part of this post. As mentioned before, there are hundreds of transcription jobs online because of the various industries and institutions needing audio files to be transcribed ASAP.
In short, it is not a seasonal job by a long shot. That’s good news for anyone needing a job that hires often and hires fast – but only if you meet their prerequisites and standards, that is. Below are some of the most reliable companies and websites that have consistent postings on online transcription jobs.
- 1-888-Type-It-Up tells it like it is right off the bat: “transcription isn’t just something anyone can do”. This is not to discourage people from trying out a transcription job with them, though. It’s just a way for them to pick out what they call “the best and the brightest” when it comes to looking for fresh talent to join their team. They are currently hiring, but applicants will need to accomplish an application form, after which the administrators will try to respond as soon as they can.
- 3PlayMedia is looking for both remote transcriptionists and English transcript editors. They specifically require both tasks to use their proprietary Internet-based software application. Other prerequisites include being at least 18 years old, can type at least 75 words per minute, with a good command of English and excellent communication skills, and can do research and verification, among others. But the site also emphasizes the kind of flexibility involved in working with them. Transcriptionists and editors can choose their own schedule and workload, as well as which projects they want to take on.
- AccuTran Global is one of the most popular transcription specialists online. They have been around since 2002, and are proud of their high accuracy and fast turnaround times for transcription work. They prefer remote transcriptionists who can work independently and can meet both client deadlines and their own guidelines.
- Appen wants you to find a job you love, solve big problems, and help shape the future. It sounds lofty at best, but the site does offer both secure transcription and speech data transcription among its services. If you want to apply as a transcriptionist, click on the Language Jobs button on the homepage, which will lead you to a further list of job descriptions under this category. There is a section for transcription, translation, and localization which you can browse for work that suits you best.
- Birch Creek Communications has transcription positions currently open. They place special emphasis on hiring high-quality corporate transcriptionists and are not specifically looking for legal or medical transcriptionists. They pay per audio minute, ranging from $0.40 per audio minute to $1.75 per audio minute. These rates will depend on the transcriptionist’s accuracy, turnaround time, and work quality. They offer a flexible work schedule, with turnaround times and deadlines depending on the client’s demands.
- Casting Words has arguably one of the strictest documentation and style guides currently in existence, but with good cause. They demand the kind of accuracy and speed with which they take pride in delivering to their clients. Applicants must first apply to their CastingWords workshop, after which they can access the different kinds of transcription jobs available on their dashboard. The site pays via PayPal, with a graded work payment scheme on top of the base pay of anywhere between 8.5 cents to over a dollar per audio minute.
- Daily Transcription could be your launchpad to online transcription jobs, with the attractive benefits they offer to remote transcriptionists who join their team. Aside from the flexibility in being able to choose your own work schedule whenever and wherever, you will also get paid weekly with higher, more competitive rates while getting loads of constructive feedback and training. The starting pay can be anywhere between $0.75-$0.85 per audio minute. They also claim that their top transcription workers are currently earning around $250 to $950 per week!
- GMR Transcription has a goal to “transcribe better, earn better” for their transcriptionists. They claim that a career with them is rewarding. Financially, that translates to a transcriptionist earning anywhere from $1000 to $3000 per month, depending on the skills they have and the kind of work they will take on, of course. On the career front, the site places special emphasis on continuous growth and learning by providing much-needed feedback and support toward proficiency, quality, and accuracy.
- Go Transcript encourages online transcription jobs for beginners. They specialize in “100% human-generated transcription services”, claiming to have a current 98.5% satisfaction rate and racking up 144 million transcription minutes so far. The site has been around since 2005, with every client having a two-person team working on their project: an account executive and a transcriptionist. This kind of set-up ensures the client a higher level of accuracy and faster turnaround time for each project.
- QuickTate was founded in 2008 under its iDictate parent company. The company specializes in audits, summaries, evaluations, and analysis of audio recordings and phone conversations for their clients. Reviews from past and present transcriptionists with the site claim to earn anywhere from $5 to $7 per hour on QuickTate, on a per word basis instead of the usual per audio minute set-up.
- Scribie offers a freelance transcription program that has plenty of benefits for successful applicants. You can work at your own convenience and time because of the flexible schedule, and expect a pay rate of around $5 to $25 per audio hour. The transcriptionist gets to preview the work available and choose what suits them best instead of getting assigned random audio files.
The site also provides shorter audio files than others, with an average of 10 minutes or less. The typical turnaround time is two hours per file which is convenient, plus the site provides the transcriptionist a free automated transcript program to save around 60% in typing effort! Transcriptionists can also look forward to being promoted depending on their consistent performance and skills. Plus, there is a monthly bonus of $5 for every three hours completed, with no monthly commitments, withdrawal limits, or other obligations.
- SpeechPad wants transcriptionists to “work when and where you want”, which should suit a remote worker just fine. There are no minimum required hours involved. All an applicant needs is a computer and Internet connection, in fact. There is a small blue chart on the site’s homepage about the potential earnings of a transcriptionist who works with them. It can be anywhere from $0.25 to $2.50 per audio minute, depending on different factors like audio quality, language, priority, and others. Transcription workers can get to choose the jobs they want to take on, and still expect to get paid on time – which is twice a week, regardless of how much they will earn.
- Tigerfish is widely considered by many to be one of the best online transcription jobs resources today. For starters, the company has been around since 1989! Impressive tenure aside, they take pride in being able to deliver transcription work on time, with practically error-free, impeccably-written, and thoroughly researched files for their clients. They also have a strict style guide for different kinds of files. You will need to comply with these guides closely and then take a timed audio transcription test (around a minute long) to determine if you have what it takes to do transcription work with them.
- Transcribe Me! is open to all transcriptionists who want to make money on their downtime. We suppose that is one roundabout way to state that this won’t be your main source of income unless you want it to. At any rate, they claim to value and appreciate their transcribers by offering them the kind of flexibility that allows them to have some semblance of a work-life balance. The site also does not require previous experience with transcription work. However, they place special emphasis on proper grammar and spelling, punctuation, and fluency in English, along with excellent typing skills.
- Transcription Outsourcing, LL provides transcription employment by way of independent contractor positions to remote workers and freelancers. They are constantly on the lookout for people to add to their transcription team. Applicants must exhibit the right kind of skills, commitment, experience, and professionalism to be considered. They offer general transcription jobs, aside from legal, medical, financial, and law enforcement transcription work. However, the positions are only open at the moment to residents of the United States.
- Transcriptions ‘n Translations is an apt name for what the site offers – transcriptions and translations for their clients on a variety of projects. They also offer subtitling and captioning services for different industries. Those who are interested in becoming transcriptionists with them should click on the Transcription link in the sidebar. It describes the sort of work expected of you. The transcription work encompasses language customization, closed captioning, subtitling, and other deliverables. Some projects require transcriptionists to know certain languages like French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and others. All successful applicants will also undergo a standard evaluation and training process plus final proofreading to ensure consistent quality, accuracy, and speed with their output.
- Ubiqus offers plenty of employment opportunities for those interested in doing transcription work from home. They continuously search for qualified and talented candidates to join their team of transcriptionists and language specialists. Both full-time and freelance opportunities are offered, so applicants have to submit their CVs and cover letters for the job they will apply for. There is a tab for remote transcriptionist instructions. When you click on it, it states the responsibilities expected with the work involved. It includes accepting audio files of varying types and duration and producing either verbatim or abridged transcription of them. Templates are provided, and each final transcript is subjected to formatting project specifications.
All applicants for transcription work with Ubiqus must be based in the US, be a native English speaker, have at least a year to five years of relevant experience including secretarial, proofreading, editing, and similar. The company also values strict adherence to deadlines, along with the ability to work without supervision and acceptance of regular feedback.
- Verbal Ink provides transcription jobs online, which they define as “the process of creating a written copy of an audio file”. The company has been around since 2003 and claims to have been consistently providing quality transcriptions for thousands of clients. They describe their hiring process as “rigorous”. This means they hire only the best listeners, those who can type accurately and intuitively know how to place unclear audio into context, and generally be sticklers for details. The company also values those who can do research on their own, either for correct spelling or clarify uncertain terms in engineering, medicine, geography, economics, and others. There is also a strict style guide that must be followed at all times.