Work From Home Opportunity: Transcriptionist/Typist


Let me start by telling you what this post is NOT about. If you’ve spent any time at all scouring the internet for work-from-home opportunities, then you’ve probably run across something like this at least 53 times:

How would you like to make an extra $1,000 every day for simply typing a few lines? Everybody else’s program is a big fat scam, but if you pay me $29.99 you’ll have access to the real deal. We’ll send you a special password to our super-secret members only area, and then you’ll be super-special and super-rich by the end of next week. Really. You can trust me because I’m super rich. I mean, from typing jobs, not from suckers people paying me $29.99 to find out about my scam unique program. Just look at these really nifty Photoshopped images of my paychecks below.

You get the idea. Don’t freak out yet, there are legitimate opportunities to make money typing from home (hang on, I’ll get to that in a sec). What’s the deal with the ads like the one above? Basically, it’s affiliate marketing at it’s worst. You’ll more than likely be told to sign up for any and all affiliate programs and products you can find, and then spend hours a day typing ads for those products and spamming every conceivable nook and cranny of the internet with your ads. Typically, it involves typing up a bunch of short text ads and plastering those ads all over free ad sites like Craigslist, and spamming the comments section of other people’s blogs. This is not my idea of a legitimate work from home typing opportunity. This is NOT what this post is about.

A Note About Comment Spam: If I write a post about my poor 90-year old grandma getting run over by a John Deere tractor and losing both legs and a pinky finger, and you leave a comment like this:

“Wow, cool post. I really enjoyed reading it. You should check this out: [insert your completely unrelated affiliate link here]”

Then you’re guilty of comment spam. Don’t spam my blog post with your ads. If you do, I’ll delete your comment faster than … something really fast. Ok, ‘nuff said. Let’s move on to the real, legitimate, super-duper Typing thingamajigger.

What Does a Transcriptionist Do?Typist_558265_68718516

If you’re a transcriptionist, you’ll find yourself listening to some sort of spoken media and typing what you hear. You’ll be creating a text document (a transcript) of the file. Transcription work generally falls into one of three very broad categories: 1) Medical Transcription, 2) Legal Transcription, and 3) Everything Else. The first two often require some specialized training, education, experience, or a combination of the three. Why? Because people in the medical and legal fields don’t like to speak in plain English and it takes training, education, or experience to figure out what the hell they’re saying. If you’re just starting out, your best bet will probably be “general transcription,” which falls into that “Everything Else” category. In future posts, I’ll cover Medical and Legal transcription. But, for today we’ll focus on General Transcription.

General Transcription – The “What”

What type of work you do will depend on what services the company offers its clients. So, when you’re comparing potential employers, look for a listing of those services. Some companies specialize in financial transcription (from earnings conferences). If that would bore you to tears, best to move on and keep looking. Here are some other examples of what you could be transcribing:

  • Business Conferences
  • Lectures
  • Police Reports
  • Speeches
  • Press Conferences
  • Recorded conversations or interviews

General Transcription – The “How”

How you will access the files you’re transcribing will vary depending on the employer. Some use .WAV files, some will use other formats. Some might require you to log into their system in order to hear the recordings, or download them to your computer. Many transcription companies will require you to have a certain transcription software program that you’ll use for your transcription work. You may also need a headset and a foot pedal. The foot pedal is used in conjunction with the software program to pause, rewind, and play the audio, keeping your hands free for typing. The faster you can transcribe, the more money  you’ll make, so the foot pedal is a worthy investment, even if your employer doesn’t require it. Make sure to check the employer’s website to see what equipment and/or software is required to work for them. Here are some common tools of the trade:

General Transcription – The “Who”

Here’s a list of some companies that hire work-at-home transcriptionists for general transcription work. I specifically tried to list the ones that look like they may not require prior transcribing experience. I’m sure there are more, so if none of these tickle your fancy, you can put Google to work and scour the internet. If you have one to add to the list, have experience with any of these, or have questions, feel free to comment! I applied for an entry-level typist job at Mountain West Processing on March 14th. I haven’t heard from them after 2 weeks. They say it may take up to a month to respond to applications. I’ll post an update when I hear from them.

General Transcription – How Much Can You Earn?

Could you work at home as a transcriptionist and make enough money to live off of? It’s entirely possible, and a lot of folks are already doing it. Will you become a millionaire and retire to Fiji doing this kind of work? Probably not. Of course, a lot depends on how many hours you want to work and what company you work for. Different companies have different pay systems. Here’s an example. SpeakWrite pays 1/2 cent per word transcribed. The more words you get on the page in an hour, the higher your hourly pay will be [By the way, at the time of this writing (3/29/09) SpeakWrite is not hiring]. Mountain West has a different pay system. They pay per audio minute. Pay per audio minute is determined by how many minutes of voice audio you transcribe, regardless of how long it takes you to get it done. So, if the pay is .35/audio minute and you get 60 minutes of audio to transcribe, you’re going to make $21.00 (.35 x 60) whether it takes you two hours or 5 hours to do the job. Regardless of how the company pays, one thing is clear: The faster and more accurately you type, the better these job will pay. Which is why it would be worth your time to improve your skills…

Tips to Biggify Your Skills

  • Download Express Scribe (free) and practice transcribing any audio files you can get your ears on. You could use audio books or podcasts to get your feet wet. Here are some actual earnings conference calls you can use as well: Audio clips
  • If you’re sure you’re going to pursue this line of work, go ahead and buy a foot pedal and start practicing with it. It really does increase your speed tremendously! If you’re still on the fence, consider getting the pedal anyway and trying it out. If you change your mind later, you’ll have no problem selling the pedal on eBay.
  • Practice your typing. Remember, it’s not just speed – but also accuracy and efficiency – that will put the most bucks in your pocket. It’s been a while since I used any kind of typing software program, but when I was taking a Medical Transcription course (that story later), I used IMSI Turbo Typing and I highly recommend it. It increased my speed and accuracy dramatically and was worth a lot more than the cost (less than 4 bucks).
  • Get more familiar with Microsoft Word. One of the secrets of the highest-earning transcriptionists is that they know how to kick Word’s ass and make it behave like they want it to. Keyboard shortcuts and macros are two of the things you should add to your skill set to make your transcription work more efficient. An excellent resource that I was turned on to (again while learning Medical Transcription) was The Medical Transcriptionist’s Guide to Microsoft Word®: Make It Your Own. It’s written by a certified MT and marketed to medical transcriptionists, but the book is worth its weight in gold to anyone doing any type of transcription work.

Enough reading. Get out there and make your mark. Compare the companies you’re interested in, check their requirements, improve your skills, and put your best foot forward. We’ll be waiting for you to let us know how super-awesome and successful you become! Good luck all over ya.


4 thoughts on “Work From Home Opportunity: Transcriptionist/Typist”

  1. To expand on this. also think in terms of virtual assistant. Many business people use bookkeepers, secretaries, admin people who work from home to provide a service.

    Depending on the type of service you offer, it may be working from home, but also on regular office hours and restrictions which may not suit all (or the false impression that working from home means it is not has hard!!)

    1. Matt,
      Thanks for the comment. You’re right, being a “virtual assistant” is popular right now. If you’re already doing this kind of work outside the home, it may be easier to transition to doing it from home. Doesn’t mean it’s easy. Doesn’t mean it’s not work. But at least you have the “freelance” option. If you’re working for an employer, as with any job, always check out the details to see if the employer requires you to be available during certain hours, etc. to see if it’s a good fit for you.

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