How to Become a Transcriptionist – The Ultimate Guide
Have you been wondering how one becomes a transcriptionist? What makes one a transcriptionist? Are there courses or books that help you become a transcriptionist?
If you are pondering these questions this post is for you, my friend. This is quite a long post as I want you to come out of it with a true understanding of being a transcriptionist. I want to provide as much value as possible in every post I publish. So buckle up and enjoy the read.
How I became a Transcriptionist
Back in 2005, I was reading commerce at Delhi University when my father met with an RTA (road traffic accident) and succumbed to his injuries. As he was the lone bread earner in the family, I had to step in his shoes and take care of the family. Fortunately, shortly after that, a friend who was then working in a transcription company invited me to give an interview.
To cut the story short, I gave the interview and as of today, I have been working there for almost 5 years.
Just like that. I became a transcriptionist.
How I heart my work!
Until that time, I had no idea what transcription is!
I soon fell in love with transcription. I found my mojo!
A few months down the road saw me moving up the corporate ladder! [Read here how I got promotion after promotion!]
There are a few things that helped me tremendously early in my work (and even now):
- English Grammar: I loved English classes, and the teachers too! Is it funny how English teachers always end up being our favourite teachers in high school? The basic grammar I learnt in high school is all I needed to succeed in the transcription business. If asked, I’d say English is THE subject students should never neglect. This forms the basis of your communication skills and maybe underestimated in some quarters. I believe, in whatever industry you maybe, it is essential for actively managing your career and for your confidence – whether in interviews or in the workplace.
- Watching TV: Yes, at the risk of sounding rather juvenile let me say the hundreds of hours I’ve spent watching TV finally pays off! And, mind you I was watching only English/American movies and programs. I am comfortable with any accent. I simply adore the UK English accent more. Its classy and even sexy. The more movies and TV programs you watch the more you are exposed to different English accents. Always watch the news on TV. You get to see and learn history, places, people etc which are beyond your culture and society.
- Reading loads of novels and books: I’ve always loved reading. In fact it’s an acquired habit. I was 12/13 years of age when I decided to make reading a habit. I’d read all the books and magazines I can lay my hands on. I’d frequently used up my library cards in school. I joined the local District Library. I was saving for book sales. In the process I accumulated quite a library. Reading books and magazines improved my vocabulary, to say the least. I became more aware of geography, culture, history and art. All these really help in transcription. Believe me.
- Everything I do or experience is a chance to learn: I am a student of the University of Life. I believe there is always a chance to learn something new in every situation or place. When my dad write articles I’d help him in typing. In fact, I helped in proofreading his last book that was published posthumously. I learnt a lot from these experiences.
So there you have it. You don’t need a degree or do a course to become a transcriptionist. That is not to say, degree is not important. In fact, I have now joined a correspondence BA English course. It is not degrees that maketh a man, but how he utilizes his knowledge that is more important. Simply align what you are doing with what you want in your life.
See below, how what I’ve been learning all my life BEFORE I became a transcriptionist readies me for the job!
What you need to become a transcriptionist –
- Basic English grammar
- Good typing speed of 60 – 100 wpm (word per minute)
- Good comprehension of English language
- Awareness of different cultures, history, art, law and business.
- Proficiency in a word processor like Microsoft Word and/or any other alternative.
Why I Heart Transcription
Before working for the company where I still work, I’ve never heard the word transcription even. Even after a couple of months I still don’t know if it pays enough to feed my family. How wrong one could be! I’d go as far as to say that not only does it feed my family, there is even a chance to make yourself a nice, comfortable living, too! Lets see below a few of the benefits of working as a transcriptionist.
- Everyday is a learning experience: It is never monotonous and boring. One file may be about family law or immigration matter. The next you are listening about the current state of law. Depending on the clients, you may also be exposed to how a company is run to business ethics and practices.
- Upgrades your skills: Before I became a transcriptionist I knew how to use the MS Word, but it’s only after I became a transcriptionist that I learnt to use all the keyboard shortcuts, efficient Google search and research techniques, formatting text, text box, MS Word templates, etc. I now often look at the documents I helped my father type and see how unprofessional they are!
- No pressure: Transcription job is a pressureless job. Client usually give us ample time to complete the transcripts. Once you get used to a client and his/her diction and pronunciation, transcribing only gets easier. With experience and increased efficiency, typing and proofreading documents is a breeze.
- Pay: I can’t say for other cities and countries, but in New Delhi a transcriptionist with zero experience can earn anything between Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000. Within 2/3 years an skilled transcriptionist should be making 2ok plus.
- Parttime/work at home : There is always an option to work parttime from home. To supplement your regular income you can always find a subcontractor in your city who will provide you with transcription work at home. I would not encourage you to depend on this for the long term, though. The pay rate is not too great.
- Go freelance – you can always take it to the next level: Almost similar to the above, you may reach a stage where you believe you have all the skills required to take on clients yourself. That’s when you might want to go freelance. This is an option well worth checking out. Freelance transcriptionist acquire their own clients and deal with the client directly. By cutting out the middleman (company or individual), there is limitless earning potential. Details on this will be in the future posts.
- Build your own transcription company: For the ambitious, this is the ultimate in the business. It may require a bit of capital and ready contracts for this to work. But if you have been freelancing and alreading having regular billing clients, this is something you should look into. Because, an individual can do only so much. In transcription business, more hands do matter!
Go out and get in!
To becoming a transcription simply work for a transcription company. There are no strict requirements. The question only then is where is a transcription company that employs freshers or gives training.
- Contact your friends and relatives and ask if they know of any company in the transcription industry.
- Read opportunities pages in newspapers.
- Join online job sites like Naukri.com
- Check out online jobboards.
Although it’s possible to be a transcriptionist without any experience in a transcription company, it’s advisable to work for one at least say 3 years. For one, you will be dealing with an array of different clients, meaning different accents, formatting and requirements. That’s free exposure will only get in a company.
Good luck now!