If you’re a skilled typist with excellent hearing who can accurately turn audio recordings into typed words, you could launch a career as a general transcriptionist. This is someone who listens to audio files of people talking and then types what’s being said for clients who want a text version. Thanks to the soaring popularity of videoconferences and podcasts, there’s a greater need for transcription services than ever before. And artificial intelligence (AI) software simply can’t transcribe these recordings as accurately as humans can. That’s because AI may not recognize accents, understand context or hear words correctly when multiple people are talking simultaneously. As a result, transcription services by real people are in big demand! Not only can you get started right away without any experience, but you’ll also be able to make your own hours by working right from home, thanks to these online transcription jobs for beginners.
(Click through to see more ways to make money working from home.)
What does a general transcriptionist do?
“General transcription is an awesome home-based career for three reasons,” points out Lisa Mills, founder of Work at Home Mom Revolution and author of Jump-Start Your Work at Home General Transcription Career. “First, if you work with a company that assigns projects with a turnaround time, you pretty much work on your own schedule. I frequently worked at night after my children were in bed,” she recalls. “Second, you’ll never find a job with more variety. Every audio is different, and I’ve learned so much about an array of subjects over the years. Third, and most importantly, you can work from home and be your own boss! No one is looking over your shoulder.”
As a general transcriptionist, you’ll listen to audio files from a variety of sources (such as classes, focus groups, interviews, lectures, meetings, phone calls and podcasts) from a wide array of fields (such as education, entertainment, market research and media), says Mills. Some audio files may last just a few minutes, while others could last an hour or longer. Your job would be to listen to the audio file and type what you hear so that clients have a text version that’s accurate and has correct spelling and punctuation, explains Mills. On top of that, clients may have special requests, for example, to remove “filler” words like “um” and “uh”. The transcription company you work for may require certain formatting, such as including notation tags that point out when a section is inaudible due to loud noise (like a car honking).
As a beginner, it’s easier to break into the general transcription field since no special education, background or certification is needed. However, if you have a legal or medical background, you may be able to specialize in medical transcription (where you’d transcribe patient histories and medical reports) or legal transcription (where you’d transcribe court proceedings and depositions), explains Mills. That’s because you’re already familiar with terms that are unique to these professions.
Do I need skills to do online transcription jobs for beginners?
“The essential skills for a productive transcriptionist are a typing speed of at least 60 words per minute, excellent grammar and spelling, the willingness to research spellings and names you’re unfamiliar with, accuracy, the ability to follow directions to the letter, and a commitment to sticking to deadlines,” notes Mills. “Also very important is a good ear, which is something that you’ll acquire over time and with practice.”
What tools you’ll need for online transcription jobs for beginners? You’ll be listening to audio files and typing as you hear them, which means you’ll need the right tools that help you with these tasks. According to Mills, these include: “A desktop or laptop computer, a good pair of soundproof headphones, a foot pedal controller with USB connections, Express Scribe software (which handles downloaded audio and allows you to play it with your foot pedal), and Internet access.” Mills adds: “A recent version of Microsoft Word is a must. I also keep a list of common grammar rules posted by my desk.”
What’s an online transcriptionist job for beginners like?
“At the beginning of the week, you’ll send in a request for work, stating how many hours of audio you’d like to transcribe for the week, keeping in mind that each hour of audio takes about three hours to transcribe,” Mills states. “Once the work is uploaded to the company’s server, you’ll download it, listen to it to be sure it’s good audio, accept it, and then get started transcribing. After transcribing the audio and proofreading your work, you’ll want to give it a second listen. You’ll be surprised how much of the audio you’ll understand on the second run-through that you did not on the first run-through. This will help you fill in any blank spaces. When you’re sure your work is as accurate as possible, and you’ve researched to be sure all terms and names are correctly spelled, you’ll upload the audio back up to the server and get started transcribing the next audio.”
Some challenges that online transcription jobs for beginners entail: “The most common challenge people new to home transcription face is that at first, it’s overwhelming,” observes Mills. “When I started my first transcription job, I nearly quit. I couldn’t believe I was supposed to understand the audio, type it, stick to the guidelines and manage to make a living. But I persisted and gradually found it easier and easier. Also, as you do more jobs, you’ll learn new tips and tricks which will make you faster, allowing you to make more money per hour.”
How much do general transcriptionists earn?
According to Indeed, you can earn between $12.80 and $30.21 per hour as a transcriptionist. The amount you’ll earn will vary based on the company or client, your typing speed, and which transcribing projects you select. Most freelance transcriptionists are paid by the “audio hour”, which means the length of time of the recording that you’re transcribing. So, if you earn $15 per audio hour, you’d earn $30 to transcribe a 2-hour recording. Keep in mind that it will take you longer to type the text than to simply listen to it without typing. So, the faster and more accurately you type, the more money you’ll earn. Using a foot pedal controller helps you cut transcription time by allowing you to easily speed up and slow down as needed.
Where can you find work-at-home transcription jobs?
You can find remote general transcription jobs on trusted job boards, such as FlexJobs, Indeed, and the Transcription Certification Institute. You may also find them on freelancer platforms, such as Upwork and Fiverr. However, be aware that scammers have been posting fake ads on job boards and freelancer platforms posing as transcription service companies. They’re trying to convince folks to send them money to gain access to paying transcription jobs. So, keep in mind that you never need to pay to work as a transcriptionist.
An even safer option: To ensure you’re working with a bona fide transcription company, visit the websites of companies that provide transcription services. They’ll let you know if they’re currently seeking new transcriptionists. If they are, you’ll be able to apply right on their website.
6 transcription companies that are hiring beginners
If you’re ready to start your career as a general transcriptionist, these 6 trusted companies are currently accepting applications for freelancers making them perfect as online transcription jobs for beginners. Even better, they’re happy to take on beginners and will provide training materials and feedback to help you learn as you grow in the field.
1. Online transcription jobs for beginners: TranscribeMe
When you apply at TranscribeMe, you can earn $15 per audio hour as a beginner general transcriptionist with the potential to earn up to $22 per audio hour as you progress, which is paid via PayPal once a week. There is no minimum required typing speed, but you’ll need to pass an entrance exam to demonstrate that you can do the job. You’ll start off with short audio clips of 2 to 4 minutes each, and you can transcribe as many of these clips as you want.
2. Be an online transcriptionist for Rev
At Rev, you’ll be asked to review company policies and samples that show you what clients expect from their transcriptions. Then, you’ll take a quiz and submit a sample transcription to show that you can follow these guidelines. Once approved as a transcriptionist for Rev, you’ll be able to get to work by making selections from client audio files. Pay varies, with the average transcriptionist earning $245 per month and top earners getting $1,495 per month, and you’re paid once per week via PayPal.
3. Online transcription jobs for beginners: Scribie
General transcriptionists who work for Scribie earn between $5 to $20 per audio hour. To start, you’ll be given a test where you’ll transcribe an audio file. After you pass, you can then get paid to transcribe available audio files of your choosing from their job hub. Scribie also makes your job easier by supplying an automatically generated transcript that you edit. Payments are made once a day through PayPal.
4. Be an online transcriptionist for CastingWords
To work as a general transcriptionist at CastingWords, you’ll be asked to complete an application form and fill out a brief bio. Based on what you include, you may be asked to take a test where you submit a transcription sample to determine your skill level. Once accepted by CastingWords, you can choose audio files to transcribe, which will earn you between 8.5 cents and a little over $1 per audio minute. Pay is transferred to your PayPal account when you accumulate $1 or more.
5. Online transcription jobs for beginners: Go Transcript
When you log on to the website for Go Transcript, you’ll be asked to study their guidelines and samples, then take a test that demonstrates how well you can follow them. Once you pass, you’ll be able to pick from their library of audio files to transcribe, where you’ll earn up to 60 cents per audio minute that’s paid through your PayPal or Payoneer account.
6. Online transcription jobs for beginners: GMR Transcription
If you consider yourself better than most at typing, grammar and punctuation, you may want to apply to GMR Transcription. This company guarantees its clients a 99% accuracy rate, so they’re looking for detail-oriented perfectionists to join them as freelance general transcriptionists. After passing a strict transcription test, you’ll be able to take on paying transcription jobs. GMR transcriptionists commit to working at least 10 hours per week and typically earn between $1,000 to $3,000 a month, depending on their skills and the audio files they choose to transcribe.
4 women who cashed in doing online transcription jobs
Wondering what it’s like to tackle online transcription jobs for beginners? These women explain how it worked for them.
Success story: “I make $38,000 per year transcribing from home!”
“Years ago, I was looking for a flexible way to earn money as a stay-at-home mom,” says Shawna Anderson, 48. “My friend raved about being a subcontractor for a transcription company, TKP Transcription Service, so I contacted them and took a test in which I transcribed a sample of audio—and I passed on my first try!”
“TKP allows me to take on remote projects that fit with my schedule, and I learn a ton about interesting topics. With them, I transcribe everything from focus groups to books, magazine articles and more. I quickly learned that the key to success is attention to detail, and I love the challenge!
“When my aunt, a court reporter, heard how happy I was with my side gig, she asked if I might want to work with her on projects too. With my youngest child starting school, the timing was perfect, and I added depositions and court proceedings to my repertoire. I then got certified with the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, allowing me to work as an independent contractor.
“I devote about 30 hours a week to transcribing and bring in up to $38,000 a year — money that goes to my kids’ tuitions and mission trips for church. I work at my own pace. The flexibility is what I love the most. I get to work at my own pace from home, and I’m able to be there when my kids need me. Plus, I can travel anywhere and take my work with me!” —as told to Hannah Chenoweth
Success story: “I bring home $485 a week transcribing!”
When medical transcriptionist Sandra Drake, 54, was looking for a job she could do from home while caring for her daughter and her mother, she heard that CLK Transcription a local company that offers transcription services for journalists, authors, educators and researchers, was hiring.
“While I did have experience in the field, their only requirement was to have good grammar, spelling and accuracy,” says Sandra. “I knew it would be a great opportunity for me to learn about new topics while working from home and making my own hours. So I emailed the owner to express my interest, and I was almost immediately hired.
“When I start a new project, I receive an audio or video file that I download. I then transcribe the speaker’s words into a Word document. I’ve transcribed so many interesting things from interviews for magazine and newspaper articles, books, documentaries, podcasts and even TV shows. I also transcribe files from roundtable discussions, conferences, market research studies and for college professors and students.
“I enjoy this work because every day is different, and I’m constantly learning something new. I also like that it’s flexible—I work between 15 and 40 hours a week, depending on my schedule, and can make as much as $485 a week. The income I earn goes toward paying the bills and for extras like my daughter’s volleyball fees.” —as told to Julie Revelant.
Success story: “I earn $800 a month transcribing for documentaries!”
When stay-at-home mom and movie buff, Lisa Miles, 53, was looking for a way to make extra money and have a flexible schedule she discovered that she could get paid to transcribe interviews for films. “I knew it would be a great way to marry my passion for movies and language while making money on my own time.”
“To find work, I searched for translation, editing and transcription gigs at Upwork.com, a freelance marketplace, but you can also find similar work at sites like ProZ.com and TranscribeMe.com. This work doesn’t require any experience, just excellent typing skills and a good work ethic.”
“I’ve transcribed for several documentaries, but one of my favorite jobs was for Shannon Kring, a documentary filmmaker and owner of Red Queen Media. After she shot the interviews, she sent me a digital audio and video file. I listened to the interviews and typed everything that was said in a format she provided. I also included time stamps in case she needed to go back to hear the audio. When I was done, she used the transcription to edit the film and add subtitles.”
“The pay ranges from 50 cents to $1 per minute of audio. I work as little or as much as I want and I set my own hours. I typically earn about $800 a month. Working as a transcriptionist has been such a great job for me. I love watching films and I find the people fascinating. And the money I earn doing this goes toward bills and caring for my horses.” —as told to Julie Revelant
Success story: “I make $30 an hour transcribing audio!”
Several years ago, as a new mom, Sara Haley, 40, was looking for part-time work that she could do from home during her daughter’s nap time, when she stumbled across the freelancing site Upwork.com. “I created a profile, applied for some work-at-home jobs and got an online audio transcription job the next day.”
“There are actually lots of opportunities out there, transcribing everything from market research to podcasts. It helps to be able to type fast, but the most important thing, is to have a quiet space to do the work since paying close attention to the audio is a priority. Of course, the faster you type, the more you earn — pay can range anywhere from $6 to $60 per hour. I type about 95 words per minute, so I can make $25 to $30 per hour. And if a job is more complicated, I get a higher rate.”
“At first I picked up occasional transcribing jobs when time allowed. But when my husband and I divorced a few years later, and I had to be the sole provider for my daughter and myself, transcribing was the perfect solution. I could stay home with my daughter, watch her grow and still pay the bills!” —as told to Lorraine Sullivan
For more work-from-home jobs, click through the links below!