Looking at Transcription Jobs? Here’s My Candid Advice (and a job).

7/16/2018 – Update: Positions have been filled

Expedited Transcripts is currently hiring one or two U.S.-based transcribers (contractors). Email chris@expeditedtranscripts.com if you’re interested.

Who should apply? People who take pride in their work, have strong grammar and MS Word skills, are honest and punctual, and have some prior transcription experience.

Expedited Transcripts is very small and workflow is uneven, so the positions are best for people looking to make extra cash on the side and work around two to five hours per week. As a contractor, you’re entitled to work as much or little as you please.

Contractors who work for Expedited Transcripts make $1 per audio minute during training, and $1.20 thereafter. Training ends whenever I feel comfortable enough to submit your work to clients without proofreading it. Transcripts are proofread for accuracy, spelling, grammar, research, and formatting. There is a style manual, though some clients require special formatting.

If you’re willing to put in the extra effort to make more than the going rate, which I gauge to be $0.75 to $1 per audio minute, please email me.

This post is meant to give bearings and insight to people who may be interested in a full-time transcription career, or just browsing work-from-home contract positions online. My advice is based solely on my personal experience transcribing audio for five years in all sorts of capacities, from full time to freelancer to self-employed/business owner. If you think I’m wrong, by all means comment!

Tip #1: If you’re interested in a transcription job but feel intimidated, just take the plunge.

The prospect of learning a lengthy style guide, going to court, or having your work scrutinized by lawyers, reporters, and the general public can be daunting. However, it’s a little bit like driving a car: There are a lot of rules to learn upfront, you’ll probably screw up in public, but it will become second nature in around three to six months.

When I took a full-time position transcribing foreign policy events, I literally didn’t know what to even name them. Luckily, I usually had someone to ask, but not always. Learning on the job is never easy, but when you’re essentially learning how not to embarrass yourself, your mind turns into a sponge pretty fast. That’s why I say you should jump in with both feet.

Tip #2: Full-time transcription jobs beat freelancing.

If you want to be a transcriptionist for a living and can find full-time work, take it! In addition to the usual benefits of employment – paid leave/vacation, overtime, health insurance, guaranteed income – you’ll also be able to interact with your colleagues, assuming you work onsite. Working from home sounds nice (and it is a couple days a week), but as someone who worked from home 100% of the time for two years, it’s too much of a good thing. So if your situation allows it, I recommend looking for an office job.

A couple notable downsides of full-time work can be production requirements (not all positions have one), limited earnings/promotion potential, and limited opportunities to grow your skillset. These limitations don’t apply to everyone or every position since some are more involved than others, but thinking about where it can take you in, say, five years is worth considering. If you don’t want to transcribe audio forever (and there’s nothing wrong if you do), make sure you learn skills outside this area.

With that said, freelancing has a place.

You can get hired quickly and choose your hours, which is perfect if you just want extra cash or a quick source of income. It can also pad your resume as you apply to full-time transcriptionist positions. The downside is that, unless you’re in a specialized position such as a court reporter, freelancing is not a viable primary source of income in the long term. Why? The hours will be long, the pay will probably not surpass $20 an hour, and unlike a full-time position, you won’t have any paid time off.

Tip #3: Get paid fairly.

How much do transcribers make? Like most things in life, it depends.

Full-time: If you’re super detail-oriented and/or have transcription experience, make sure you find a company that values their employees, emphasizes quality, and most importantly, will pay you for it. For full-time work, higher-paying jobs can be found at court-reporting firms, law firms, most levels of government, and companies specializing in medical transcription or other fields. Pay will depend on many factors, but will likely fall between $32,000 and $55,000 for full-time positions.

Freelance: If you’ve been tested by a company, must deliver high-quality transcripts, and have to follow their style guide (which is usually a pain to learn), you should absolutely accept nothing less than $1 per minute of audio/video – around $12 to $15 per labor hour – for general transcription. The going rate seems to be 75 cents to $1 per audio minute. If you’re being offered significantly less, the company’s expectation of quality should be also less. There is a place for quick and dirty transcripts, but just make sure your compensation matches the required level of quality. In short, if you’re being offered $30 to make a Rolex, work somewhere else.

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