Do you have a background in transcription? Do you enjoy listening to audio files and typing them out on the computer? Are you interested in making money as a transcriber? If so, then this guide is perfect for you! Transcription jobs can be an incredibly lucrative and enjoyable side hustle that can make you a solid part-time income.
In this article, I’ll tell you all about what you need to get started in order to become a successful transcriber, how to make money with transcription jobs, which companies you should start with, and how to set up your own profitable business. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Types of transcription
Let’s start with the basics. Transcription is the process of converting spoken audio files into written content. Like most things, transcription isn’t limited to a single job type. In fact, there are different types of transcription and transcribers that specialize in each of those. Some of these you might have heard of; some you might not have. Some different areas of transcription include the following:
Legal transcription jobs include making transcripts of audio recordings for legal purposes, like depositions or interviews. It’s very important to understand that legal transcription will be heavily reliant on research and familiarity with court rules to make sure you transcribe these files correctly as well understanding issues around privilege and what information can legally go into a transcript.
Medical transcription jobs might include anything from pathology reports to doctors’ notes. Just like legal transcription, medical transcription can also be highly specialized with specific terms you’ll need to be familiar with (or at least have the ability to look up those terms). Medical transcription is probably one of the most popular types of transcription jobs.
Transcribers are also need to do insurance-related transcription. This type of transcription will be different depending on the job. Some jobs will just require you to listen and type out what is being said in a summary (maybe between insurance agents and clients) while others may have a recording that needs to be typed verbatim for legal or medical purposes.
Financial transcription jobs might include any kind of investment advice given by financial experts, as well as conversations about anything related to corporate finance or equity markets (these things are highly regulated so these files need extra research). These transcribers also tend to not only handle interviews but do other things like conference calls. You might even be asked to transcribe conversations about bitcoin investment topics.
Equipment needed to get started
One of the things that makes transcription a great option for someone that wants to make money without spending a fortune is that you don’t need a lot of specialized equipment to get started and make money.
Some of the equipment you’ll need includes a computer, a good internet connection, and either headphones or speakers. You likely already have this stuff at home so there isn’t any extra cost.
If you want to get fancy, you can also invest in a foot pedal, although I find that I’m better at using hotkeys on the keyboard than using a foot pedal.
If you do find out that transcription is something you enjoy, I highly recommend investing in transcription software.
These transcription software programs will do a computer generated transcription first. This means that you won’t have to start from scratch. When I use transcription software, my speed increases drastically and the cost of the software is more than worth the time it saves me.
Two software programs that I recommend are Trint and Otter.ai. Trint is more expensive but more robust, with support for other languages in addition to English. However, a lot of transcribers like Otter.ai because it’s easy to use (including on mobile) and it’s cheaper. I highly recommend you try both of them out (I think they both offer free trials) and see which one you like better.
Finally, if you’re in the US, you’ll probably want to get a PayPal account if you don’t have one since that’s how a lot of companies will pay you for the hours you work.
Can anyone do transcription jobs?
Is transcription easy?
Can anyone do it?
Well, no it’s not for everyone. In order to be a successful transcriber and get paid, you need to be a good typist, have an ear for language and speech patterns, and be able to research things you don’t hear clearly. But in my experience it’s not as difficult or technical you might think if done properly. You’ll do well with transcription work if you’re someone who loves listening. This is key because transcribing audio files takes up the bulk of the time you spend working. You’ve got to be able to pay attention!
How much does can a transcriber make?
Let’s talk about what really matters. How much can you make as a transcriber? Will you get paid a good income? If you’re interested in becoming a freelance transcriber that works on your own, you’re likely going to want to charge by audio minute. The rate per minute can depend on a huge number of factors. Some companies only charge a few cents per word (or less). Professional freelancers can charge up to a dollar per minute (or more). Some things that can affect how much you charge include:
- your transcription experience
- the type of transcription job you’re doing
- the number of speakers in the audio
- how clear the audio is
- whether it’s a one-off assignment or part of larger contract
- the type of output file requested by the client
- whether the clients wants a verbatim transcript (including all the “uhs, ohs, and hmms”) or a “clean” transcript
- what language the audio is in
- whether the client wants any services in addition to the transcription (things like translating the content, turning it into a website article, or converting it into a script can all increase the price)
When I first started out as a new transcriber, I began by charging $0.50 a minute. After a few jobs, however, I realized that it wasn’t enough for what I felt I should be earning per hour so I raised my rates to a dollar a minute.
My clients were fine paying the amount because they preferred working with me (someone they could trust with their sensitive material) as opposed to giving it over to one of the many general transcription companies. And I was happy to get paid that amount per audio minute because I thought it was fair.
If you charge a dollar a minute and can transcribe 60 minutes a day, that’s $300 dollars a week you can earn doing part-time transcription. And that doesn’t include any upsells you include with just transcribing audio.
Training that can help you become a transcriber
For general transcribing, you don’t need to have any specialized training to get started as a transcriber. You just need to be able to type and understand spoken language. You might be slow but the more you do it, the better and faster you’ll get at it.
However, if you want to do more specialized transcription work like legal or medical transcription, it wouldn’t hurt to do some professional training so you can do the best job possible. This is especially true since these types of transcriptions have a tendency to involve sensitive and confidential topics that can directly impact the lives of others.
Also, Transcribe Anywhere has a free mini-course on transcription that you can take to learn more about what it takes to be a transcriber. If you’re new, I highly recommend you check it out.
Pros & cons of transcribing
Now that you know a little bit more about what it takes to become a transcriber let’s look at some of the pros and cons to pursuing this side hustle.
- You can work from home – Unlike making money from flipping products, with transcription there’s no need to be tied down to a specific location. You can make money online from anywhere with the right tools and a wifi connection.
- Freelance transcribers are in high demand – Freelance transcribers are in high demand because the world is becoming more and more digitally-connected.
- You don’t need a degree or certification to become a freelance transcriber – While there are no specific requirements for becoming a freelance transcriber, it does take time and effort to learn how to do the job well.
- Freelance transcription jobs are available on lots of different websites – Freelance transcription jobs are easy to find. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr offer freelance opportunities for those looking to make money online on the side, or even a living wage if you’re cut out for it. It’s an easy way to make money while you’re working full-time elsewhere. Becoming a freelance transcriber is the perfect solution for thousands of people because it can provide extra income without having to worry about quitting your day job!
- You need to be able to type fast – If you don’t have quick fingers, you’ll get paid less because it will take you longer to do the transcriptions.
- It can take a lot of time and effort to make money as a transcriber if you’re just starting out – The most difficult part is getting started! But once you do, the process becomes much easier because it’s like riding a bike–the more you do it, the easier (and faster) you’ll become.
- The pay is not always great – This is especially true when it comes to working with transcription companies. However, if you can get some of your own clients as a freelancer, you’ll be able to earn a much bigger paycheck.
- There are some jobs that require special skills or licenses, such as medical transcription – Specialized training and licenses can cost a lot and make it harder to get started. But these are usually worth the money because there are less people competing for those positions.
- You’re not usually eligible for any health insurance or other benefits – That’s the life of a freelancer right?
Companies that hire transcribers
Rev is a really great company for beginner transcribers who are looking to find online transcription jobs without any prior experience. With over 60,000 freelance transcribers and many clients like Amazon, Facebook, and Google available on the site it’s clear there are plenty of opportunities waiting around every corner. They say you can earn an average of $245 per month and some transcribers are able to make over $1,000 a month. Before working for Rev, you’ll need to take and pass a transcription test.
TranscribeMe is a company that wants you to be able to work at home for yourself and your family as long as possible, so they offer an easy way of earning money transcribing. This site provides a service where workers can transcribe audio files into textual representations for people who are unable or unwilling to do it themselves. After registering, take their English test before getting started on contracts. You’ll get paid weekly via PayPal, which makes earning money really convenient.
There aren’t any set rules or regulations for getting clients on Upwork with online transcription jobs for beginners. Rates vary depending on a number of factors such as what type of client you’re talking to, how difficult or easy their job could be, and experience level.
Scribie is a great company to find online transcription jobs for beginners. All you need to do in order to get started is to submit an application and take their online general transcription test. Scribie files are only 6 minutes or less so they shouldn’t be too time consuming, even if there’s multiple documents that day. I believe Scribie pays via PayPal as well.
Crowdsurf is another company that you can use to make money transcribing from home with minimal work experience. All they require is an assessment test and then you can start working on online transcription jobs that pay between $0.03-$0.20 per audio minute. It’s also quick – most of the time it will only take 10 minutes or less for each job!
ZipRecruiter often has listings for freelance transcribers that pay per audio hour. Click on any of the links below for anything that looks interesting to you. (You can also sign up to receive your own email alerts.)
There are many benefits to being a transcriber and making money transcribing! You can work as much or as little as you want, choose how fast you want to work, and even set your own per hour rates. I hope this ultimate guide to making money as a transcriber has helped you decide if being a transcriber is right for you and if so, to help you get started. If you have any questions, remember to post them in the comments!
FAQ – Making Money as a Transcriber
Can you earn money transcribing?
Yes, it is possible to make good money from home transcribing if you become a general transcriptionist. The average earnings for transcribers is $40-45k in the United States. Of course the salary is different if you work from home or only charge by the minute.
Is transcribing hard?
No, it is not hard. There are some skills and techniques that make transcribing easier but all of the software does a good job at making your work flow smoothly once you know what to do!
I want my own transcription business/side hustle. What should I start with first?
The first thing to think about when starting your own transcription business is how much work you want to take on. If it is just for a few hours per week, then start small with jobs or clients that can fit your schedule and skill level at the time! Also, make sure your typing skills are good. It will really help you transcribe faster.
What software do I need to become a transcriptionist? Are there any equipment requirements for making extra money transcribing?
If you work from home, you’re going to need a computer and headphones. I find that over-the-ear style headphones are much better suited to transcribing than the in-ear style. Oh, and don’t forget that you need a reliable internet connection (and probably a PayPal account for getting paid).
What skills do I need that will make me good at transcribing?
The most important skill that is required for transcribing in my opinion, other than a strong typing speed of course, would be listening skills. Transcribers need to have excellent hearing and understand how words flow together when spoken with different accents or dialects! If you want some training on how to become a transcriber, be sure to take this free mini-course.
If I work at home as a freelance transcriber, what per minute rate should I charge to make money transcribing?
There is no set-in-stone rate for a freelance transcriber. It depends on the project parameters. However, I would charge anywhere between $0.25 and $0.50 per audio minute when you’re just getting started.
How long does it typically take to transcribe 1 hour of audio?
The average person can transcribe about one hour of audio in four hours. However, if you have good transcription software that can do a pre-automatic transcription for you, you can cut down that time significantly.