If you're a good typist, transcription might be the right work-at-home job for you. However, keep in mind there's more to transcription than simply typing. And as with any work-at-home opportunity, you need to be on the lookout for scams and bad deals.
What Is a Transcriptionist?
A transcriptionist listens to a recording, sometimes using a foot pedal to control the speed of the playback, and types what she hears, interpreting and editing by varying degrees depending on the type of transcription job.
Minimum speeds for transcription jobs range from 60 to 85 words per minute (WPM). Types of transcription jobs include corporate, legal, general and medical plus there are captioning jobs, which may or may not be in real-time. Typically to get work as a home transcriptionist you will need to have experience doing transcription in an office setting first, and for real-time captioning, you need to be experienced and certified in court reporting.
Most home transcription work is done on an independent contractor-basis, meaning that you are not an employee. Read more about the difference between employees and contractors.
Typing Online Is Not the Same as Transcription
There are online typing jobs or data entry work that are similar to transcription but that don’t typically require the same level of skill, and they won’t pay as much as true transcription. If you are starting out, these may be the right work-at-home jobs for you.
But you just need to understand what you’re getting into.
Often, there is a catch. For instance, some of these companies might only pay after you earn a certain amount--$50 for instance. However, it might you might find that there isn’t enough work available for you to earn that much or that it is just too time-consuming to make it worthwhile.
Watch Out for Certification Scams
Be wary of any hiring company that tries to sell you transcription certification services, particularly those that make hiring you contingent on completing their certification program. Companies that turn you down for a transcription job but then encourage you to sign up for a transcription certification, usually at a cost of a few hundred dollars, are more than likely work-at-home scams. And if they are not outright scams, they still may be a bad deal just the same. Whenever you consider getting certification to improve your job prospects, be sure the certification has value at multiple companies, not just the one that is encouraging you to get it.
Legitimate transcription companies will evaluate your typing speed and accuracy through testing, and look at your resume to determine if your experience matches their needs. Certification for general transcription is not usually a factor in determining if you are qualified for a transcription job. (However, for medical transcription jobs certification is usually needed, but there are specific types of accreditation that are accepted all companies utilizing medical transcriptions.)
Legitimate companies generally do not charge fees for you to work for them, though there can be some start-up costs for contractors (and sometimes employees).
However, in transcription, these tend to be for durable equipment that you could use with other clients. Be very careful of any company selling a “business opportunity.”
How to Find a Legitimate Home Transcription Job
Before you even start looking for home transcription work, test your typing speed, even if you're an old pro. Here are a few free online typing tests and practice files. Next read all about home transcription jobs and finally browse this list of companies with home transcription work.