What is the Job of a Transcriptionist and How to Become One?


    The online gig economy has been growing every year. As other industries and businesses crumbled and were taken to their knees by the lockdowns and other contingency measures put in place by governments worldwide to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the online gig economy grew expansively. One of the online gigs at the forefront of this growth was transcription.

    If you are interested in becoming part of this growing industry, you need first to know what transcription is, the job of a transcriptionist and how to become a transcriptionist. Just so you know, working as a transcriber can be your part-time hustle or even a full-time freelance career. Stick around and learn the job description of a transcriptionist and how to become one.

    Who is a Transcriptionist?

    A transcriptionist is a specialist in converting audio files into written documents. The process of converting audio files into written format is called transcribing. The audio files that transcriptionists work on vary but mainly include meetings, podcasts, interviews, TV shows, seminars, focus groups, films, webinars, lectures, phone calls and market research.

    What is the Job of a Transcriptionist

    Apart from converting audio files into written versions, transcriptionists also have other responsibilities such as:

    • Completing transcriptions in time
    • Keeping transcriptions organised for future use
    • Editing transcripts into various formats such as hardcopy and soft copy for storage, emailing and uploading to websites
    • Reviewing transcriptions done by speech recognition software and upon identifying any inconsistencies re-editing the work
    • Ensuring transcripts are accurate, complete and easily comprehendible
    • Including metadata, such as title, dates, speaker’s name and location, on audio files for indexing purposes
    • Proofreading transcripts to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors such as time stamps and indicating change of speakers
    • Sticking to the format requirements set by the client
    • Reviewing transcriptions to ensure they reflect what is on the audio file

    There are different types of transcriptionists but the most common ones are:

    • General transcriptionists: They are not specialists in a particular field. General transcriptionist can work on various types of audios such as simple dictation, podcasts, interviews but not on specialised fields.
    • Legal transcriptionists: They are responsible for transcribing legal and law related audio recordings such as court hearings, trials and depositions. In some cases, legal transcribers can also handle police interrogations, undercover law reinforcement recordings and victim interviews.
    • Medical transcriptionists: They transcribe audio recordings from doctors and other healthcare professionals into written medical reports.

    How to Become a Transcriptionist

    To become a transcriptionist, there several things you need to do. Below are the steps to follow if you want to become a transcriptionist.

    Step 1: Ensure You have the Required Skills

    To be an excellent transcriptionist, you need to have a set of skills. These skills generally apply across the board to the various fields you may prefer to work in.

    • Proficiency in a certain language. For example, you need a good understanding of the Vietnamese language to handle Vietnamese transcription jobs
    • Strong attention to detail
    • Stellar listening skills
    • Great time management skills
    • Ability to type fast and accurately at speeds of at least 70 words per minute
    • Excellent editing, grammar and proofreading skills
    • Discretion
    • Familiarity with Microsoft word and related software

    Step 2: Meet Technical Requirements

    To handle specialised transcription such as medical and law, you need technical knowledge and experience in these areas. To become a legal transcriptionist, you will need to have a certificate to show you have attained the necessary training, have background knowledge in legal terminologies, systems and documentation. The same case applies to medical transcriptionists.

    Other technical requirements you need to meet to have a smooth run with transcription are;

    • A good-working computer
    • Strong and fast internet connection
    • A good set of headphones but noise-cancelling headphones would be a good fit
    • A foot pedal to control audio playback

    Step 3: Sign Up for Transcription Accounts/Create an Online Presence

    After you have fulfilled the first two steps, you are ready to have a transcription account with the various transcription websites on the internet. Having a transcription account helps you build on experience. If you are not interested in going this way, you can create an online experience. Revamp your CV and advertise your services on the internet, social media pages and build an online portfolio site. If impressed by your portfolio, interested clients will contact you to do jobs for them.

    Step 3: Go Through the Transcription Style Guidelines

    Before starting on any transcription job, first study the transcription guidelines set by the client or the transcription company. This will help you pass the first transcription test and know how to handle various scenarios.

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