Thursday, September 18

Transcription - How I got started

I got such a response in comments and email about my post on transcription that I want to expand on it a little bit. I've found that when you're looking for a job working from home, it can seem a little bit overwhelming and it really helps to hear how a real person actually started doing it. Let me tell you exactly how I became a transcriptionist.

I knew this was going to be a good fit for me because of the nature of the work and the schedule. The process takes a couple of weeks or more, so I got started several weeks before I would leave my full-time job. (Keep in mind this is definitely something you can do on the side while continuing to work full-time. I think it's a great way to just earn extra money!)

I started learning about the different companies on WAHM. There are certain companies that will hire with little or no experience. Those are the ones I started sending my resume to. Initially I got hired with a company called Morningside Partners. They emailed me after they received my resume, with a sample test to complete. I returned that and soon I was ready to start working! However, I didn't do much work for them because I found their format for requesting work a little too complicated back then.

Then I decided to post my resume on Guru. A lot of people also use Elance. These sites have both companies and individuals looking for anything from ongoing transcription work (and many other fields) to a one-time project for a college student. Don't shy away from the one-time jobs - often they'll take someone inexperienced and you could get lucky and end up with long-term work that way. Not to mention it's a great way to build your resume.

I got my first real job (that I did for a long time) on Guru. They emailed me after I had bid on their job (through the Guru website) and I began working for them. The pay was small - about $40 per audio hour - but for a newbie it was totally expected! I was soon bumped to $50 an hour.

The key to making money and having steady work is to contract with at least two companies. I soon found another transcription opportunity that interested me on WAHM and contacted that individual. He hired me within a couple of weeks. (You will often not hear specific company names discussed because of company policies but don't worry - it is not difficult to find out where they are. Check out my original transcription post to find a link to companies that hire newbies.)

Eventually I even got hired on with a third, very well-known transcription company. I then stopped working with the original company I'd contracted through. Honestly, I have two small kids and I'm only working nights and weekends so two is enough for me. The first company paid the lowest for the amount of work - that was my bottom line.

So now I work with two companies. One company that pays very well (but is very strict on grammar rules and style) takes a one-month hiatus in the summer, so I did lots of extra work for the other company. The other company assigns weekend work that's not due until Monday night and the other company doesn't have Monday work, so that's when I do it.

I've been doing transcription for about two years now and I really enjoy it. I love the flexibility of hours and the fact that I can take work only when I want it and it really doesn't matter to the company if I don't. I do often work weekends, but I do the work at unimportant times to avoid missing t-ball games or taking the kids to the park on a warm afternoon, so it doesn't really bother me.

I'll post more about a typical schedule for me and details like that later. If you have any questions, I'd love to hear them. Please feel free to ask - this is why I started this blog!


April said...

Hi Emily,
I found your blog through ivillage and I was just making sure I'm reading correctly. You make $40 for one hour of work? Is that correct? I type very quickly (roughly 80wpm or so), so this is something that really appeals to me. I do have a full time job, and a newborn, but even if I can just do an hour or so a day - $40 an hour would really be great for me. Thanks in advance! You can write me back at my email at iamapril79 at

Emily said...

Hi! Just to clarify, that's $40 per AUDIO hour starting out. Typically it takes a beginning transcriptionist about one hour to type 15 minutes of audio. So it works out to $10 an hour. But again, that's just a starting rate. Once you get more experience you can be offered more pay, not to mention that when you get faster, you finish more audio in less time. I make much more than that now - more like $70-$80 for one audio hour, which is pretty good for just a few hours worth of work per night.