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How to Become a Transcriptionist in 2021

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One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is to work in a job you love. Many people think they cannot make this happen, but that is not true. You can find the right job for you and do the work you love to do.

The right job for you may well be a freelance job. If you want to freelance at home – or anywhere, really – you can find a way. There are increasing ways to be a freelancer, and one great way is to become a transcriptionist.

Janet Shaughnessy is a veteran transcriptionist who saw the emerging popularity of this field along with a real need for proper transcription training, so she created the Transcribe Anywhere online transcription training program.

I talked to Janet about what exactly transcriptionists do, how Transcribe Anywhere can help you learn how to become a transcriptionist, and her thoughts about what the future holds for transcriptionists. Here is what she had to say.

Computer, transcription headphones, clock and vase on desk

How to Become a Transcriptionist in 2021 

First, what exactly do transcriptionists do?

Transcriptionists convert audio and video content into text documents. Too many people think that all we do is type, but typing is the easy part. Sure, it’s an essential skill, but it’s not the only skill required to provide quality transcripts. Punctuation, spelling, and critical thinking skills are equally as important. You must also possess a good ear to capture the spoken word and type it verbatim.

How much money can transcriptionists make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, general transcriptionists earn $45K/year and legal transcriptionists earn $65K/year. These are averages and will vary depending on region, experience, and number of hours worked.

You can read what World of Freelancers wrote about all you need to know about the field of legal transcription here

Are there any special transcriptionist tools that people need to do online transcription?

You need transcription software, a headset and also possibly a foot pedal. A transcriptionist foot pedal is optional, but most transcriptionists prefer using one.

Transcriptionists are freelancers. Can you tell us a bit about the pros and cons of working in a freelance job versus having an employer?

I’m the wrong person to ask because I’m completely pro freelancing. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I wouldn’t go back to a regular j-o-b no matter what was being offered.

The idea that there’s security in a regular job is a very false sense of security. It may have been true one or two generations ago, but it isn’t any longer. No one works for the same company for 30 years and retires with a gold watch and nice pension.

It’s a freelance revolution. Companies are realizing the benefits of outsourcing versus hiring employees. In the digital age, so many jobs that once had to be done in the office can be done anywhere with a computer and internet connection. Transcription is a perfect example. My advice: Build marketable skills!

Janet Shaughnessy teaches you how to become a transcriptionist in her Trancribe Anywhere online courses
Janet Shaughnessy, founder of Transcribe Anywhere

What do people learn about how to become a transcriptionist in your Transcribe Anywhere courses?

You can view the online course syllabi at the website. But, in short, we take them from the very beginning of explaining what transcription is, the equipment needed, typing and punctuation drills, practice dictations of all sorts (there’s a LOT of practice in my courses) and finally, after passing the final exam, training in marketing transcription services and obtaining work is provided.

How long does it take to complete the Transcribe Anywhere program?

On average, it takes students about four months to complete our online transcription courses.

Once you learn to do online transcription, how do you find clients?

I only share that information with people who’ve completed training and passed the final exam.

No one without training or experience will pass a transcription test, so there’s no point in perpetuating the myth that “anyone can be a transcriptionist.” It simply isn’t true and people will be sorely disappointed when they find that they don’t know what they thought they knew. I hear it all the time.

People find Transcribe Anywhere after failing to find work on their own because they weren’t prepared.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges of being a freelance transcriptionist?

It’s a lot more difficult than people imagine. Proper punctuation seems to be the biggest hurdle, but once you get it, you’re good. A few, but not many, have found that they just don’t enjoy it. They’re definitely in the minority, but there are some who’ve decided they’d rather stick with a regular job. It could be that whole false sense of security thing I spoke about earlier.

I happen to love what I do, but it isn’t for everybody. If you’re not self-disciplined and/or like the office work environment, then transcription probably isn’t the right choice for you.

What should people know about the future of the field of online transcription?

As some people know and some need to know, medical transcription is no longer a viable option. The adoption of the electronic medical record and outsourcing have depleted the demand, along with the pay, for qualified MTs. Transcribe Anywhere is working closely with AAERT (American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers) to help struggling MTs transition into general and/or legal transcription.

As a whole, the amount of work available to transcribers is growing all the time.

I’ve been asked several times recently whether or not transcription is a recession-proof industry. First, let me say that I’m not at all sure that we’re going to have a recession. I have no crystal ball and I don’t believe most of what the mainstream media says. I’m not an economics expert, so we’ll see what happens.

What I do know is this: I started my work-at-home business in 2006. The 2008 recession hit just two years into my self-employment and I was continuing to grow it. Even in a down economy, content is produced that needs to be transcribed. Litigation doesn’t stop. Business doesn’t stop. Authors don’t stop writing. Podcasters don’t stop “podding.” Marketers don’t stop marketing. Conferences don’t stop. Finance doesn’t stop. Insurance doesn’t stop. I can go on and on, but you get the picture. So recession proof? I can’t guarantee that. What I can say is that it hasn’t stopped us before and with the amount of content being produced on a daily basis, I can’t imagine that trend not to continue.

Why should someone become a transcriptionist in 2021?

    • To take control of your time and money
    • To spend more time with family and friends
    • To have the ability to work when and where you want
    • To learn a new skill! Skills = $$$
    • To be your own boss
    • To gain confidence in your abilities
    • To be a role model for your children
    • To learn new things every single day through the transcripts we provide for such a wide variety of clients
    • To stop wearing suits, ties, dresses, and pantyhose
    • To stop paying for commuting, lunches out, and work clothes
    • TIME FREEDOM is the number one reason on my list for loving what I do.

Now you know how to become a transcriptionist. Get started in this awesome freelance career by taking Janet’s free mini course right here!


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Sabina Lohr

Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I liked that you explained that there are a lot of industries that could use a transcriptionist. The medical and business industries seem like the ones that would need the most help. It does seem like a good idea to look for a transcriptionist that has some experience as well.

  2. Very Nice Explanation! Transcription industry offers a very promising carrier if you have the proficiency in your work> Thanks for sharing this great content with us.

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