Tuesday, September 16

Work At Home Possibilities - Transcription

When I first started searching for work-at-home positions, one of the first things I landed on was transcription. I thought this would be a good fit for me because I am a quick typist and the nature of the work was completely done online, so it wouldn't matter that I had the kids at home while I was working.

There are several types of transcription, including medical, legal and general. I do general transcription. Unlike the other types, which require (often expensive) training, there is no specific terminology involved with general transcription. You can transcribe anything from teleseminars to insurance recordings to House and Senate Hearings and beyond.

What is it? Transcription involves recieving an audio file, often from an FTP transfer, then listening to it and typing (usually a word document) in the format the company uses. Typically when you're hired on with a company, they will give you the information on how to recieve the files they give you, as well as their guidelines for creating the document. Different companies have different rules for everything - abbreviations, font, spacing, etc.

What equipment do I need to start? Transcriptionists use a special program to listen to the audio that has the ability to stop and start the audio as you need to. I use Express Scribe, which is a free program you can download. It has instructions on how to download audio with the function keys or if you choose to purchase a footpedal (which you typically do not need to start with), it is compatible with that. You will also need a good pair of quality noise-cancelling headphones. You can get a good pair at any Radio Shack or Wal-Mart. I am currently using this set, which I love! They are wireless, which is an added bonus. Do not try to do transcription with earbuds. Your ears will not thank you!

What else do I need to know? Transcription is not for everyone. If you don't type close to 80 words per minute, it may be difficult to meet turnaround times, which can vary from a couple of hours to 48 hours or more. The general rule of thumb is that it takes a beginning transcriptionist 1 hour to transcribe 15 minutes of audio. Tigerfish has a transcription test available on their website, which you can check out to see if this might be an option for you.

How do I get started? First you'll want to set up a resume that you'll use specifically for transcription positions. For more on that, read my post here. I also recommend you set up an account on, which is where I got my first transcription position.

In addition to people who will browse on Guru looking for freelance transcriptionists, here is a list of companies that sometimes hire people with little or no experience.

My biggest advice is to just jump in and get your feet wet! The beauty of transcription is that it's something that can be done any time of the day. Companies don't care if you're up at 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. doing work, as long as you have it to them by their deadline. That said, I am often just picking up work to do at naptime. It's a simple way to earn income even if you're still working full-time. If you find that you do well with it, you can turn it into your full-time job and enjoy the benefits of a more flexible schedule.

MoneySavingMom - one of my favorite blogs - also did a post about getting started with transcription. Check that out here.


Lorrie said...

Thanks for the post. I have worked from home as a contracted medical transcriptionist in the past. I have been interested in general trascription. I hope to be able to put your advice into action and maybe find some more work. I love your blog design. It is beautiful.

susan said...

Thanks for posting the comment on MSM's site to your blog about transcription. I am looking to make extra money and have always thought of transcription, but feared I would have to invest a lot initially. After reading your tips, I realize that isn't the case and I will definitely try the test link that you provided and research a bit more!

Is it hard to get your first job when you can't list any transcribing experience?

I'd love to hear more about how you got into this field initially - so feel free to email me at iheartpinkandgreen at yahoo dot com.


Emily said...

Thank you for your comments! Susan, I sent you an e-mail. Keep checking the blog, because I will be expanding more on transcription and other work-at-home topics as well as some other money making ideas soon!

Amber said...

Hi, Emily-

Wow, I love your blog! (found it in your siggy at iVillage)

I took your advice and downloaded Express Scribe as well as the Tigerfish test. One word for ya- ugh. :)

The first test is a focus group and it's taken me a good 20 minutes to get through just 2 1/2 minutes of it! Granted, I've NEVER transcribed before and am just listening to it through my laptop speakers...

Just wondering if this is normal or if I should chuck the idea of transcribing altogether. :)

Thanks, again, for your very informative posts!!!

Emily said...

Amber - yes, that's definitely normal!! Don't give up - it won't take long to get used to listening and typing at the same time, but it does seem a little tricky at first.

Also, I have tried to transcribe on a laptop before and I found it more difficult because they keys are smaller and a little tighter, so using a regular desktop might help that!

Andrea said...

emily - I've thought about transcription too but never knew where to get into it. Can you send me anymore detailed info on it to ardeckard at yahoo? I think it would be a great way to make a few extra bucks! Thanks in advance!