Update: Medical transcription is no longer a work-from-home career that I recommend. Due to medical facilities using electronic medical records, the demand and pay rates for medical transcriptionists continues to decline. If you’re interested in working in a related field, I suggest general or legal transcription, becoming a medical scribe, or medical coding. This article has been left here for informational purposes only.
Are you a fast and accurate typist? Are you good at meeting deadlines? Do you have excellent listening skills? Then perhaps a home-based career as a medical transcriptionist is right for you.
What is Medical Transcription?
Medical transcription is the process of listening to audio files from medical professionals and transcribing them into written documents. Once the audio file is in written format, it becomes part of the patient’s permanent medical record.
There are also medical transcriptionists, called medical transcription editors or dictation editors, who correct and edit written reports generated by speech recognition software. So, when searching for medical transcription jobs, remember to search by all three terms.
Do You Need Special Training?
Note: I do not recommend investing money into this career path, as it is a dying career field.
While there’s not a license that is required to be a medical transcriptionist; individuals need to be familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and medical reporting; plus, transcription companies prefer hiring professionals who are certified in the field. Most medical transcription training programs can be completed in as little as four to eight months. There are many community colleges and career institutions that offer medical transcription training – but the one I recommend is CareerStep.
CareerStep has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, Dave Ramsey endorses them, and their program can be completed online in just four months. They also offer tuition assistance and special funding for military families, and they offer graduate support to help you land a job. Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll want to take the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) exam. This exam is voluntary and needs to be retaken every three years, but it’s a great way to establish your credibility in the field, especially when you’re starting out.
What Skills and Equipment Do You Need?
To make it as a medical transcriber, you’ll need to have top-notch listening skills, fast and accurate typing skills, and excellent written communication — after all, what you’re typing is going to be in someone’s medical record, and their life could depend on the information you’re transcribing.
Here’s some of the equipment you’ll need:
- Reliable computer or laptop
- High-speed internet connection
- Good quality headphones
- Transcription software and foot pedal to playback the audio files
Some hiring companies will supply the appropriate equipment needed for the job.
How Much Do Medical Transcriptionists Earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical transcriptionists earn an average of $16.70 per hour or $34,730 annually. However, I’ve had many medical transcribers tell me they are making much less. Because medical facilities have moved away from paper documentation to digital medical records, the need for medical transcriptionists is rapidly declining.
The BLS says the job outlook for medical transcribers is expected to drop by 4% from 2022-2032. Over the years, not only has the demand for medical transcriptionists decreased, but the pay rates have also taken a nose dive. I do not recommend this career as it is a dwindling occupation.
Where Do I Find Medical Transcription Jobs?
Medical transcriptionists are generally hired by hospitals, medical offices, and administrative support companies. Here are some of the companies that regularly hire home-based medical transcriptionists:
Do You Want to Be a Freelance Medical Transcriptionist?
Like any other freelance business, you will need to educate yourself on the best business practices, file all of the appropriate paperwork, and get your legal and financial ducks in a row. Once you set up the preliminary business framework, you can start working on the fun parts of your business.
1. Create an Online Presence
Having a website as a medical transcriber isn’t necessary, but you should have an online presence that can help to attract more clients. Having a well-written LinkedIn profile is a good place to start, but you can also list your services on freelance portals like Upwork and Guru.
2. Educate Yourself
Even though you’ll have formal training as a medical transcriptionist, if you decide to go the freelance route, you’ll have a new set of skills and practices to learn. Skills like marketing, keeping track of your finances as a 1099 contractor, organization, and productivity — will all be part of your life as a freelancer. Be sure to brush up on these areas and join groups and organizations that can help you be successful.
Here are a few resources to check out:
- American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group
- Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity
- Medical Transcription For Dummies
3. Market Your Business
There are lots of ways to promote your medical transcription business, but the thing you need to remember is consistency is key. Choose a few methods that you think you’ll enjoy doing and spend time each day working on those methods. This post below covers nine ways to market yourself and get clients:
Medical Transcription Conclusion
If you enjoy typing and want to work in the medical field, working from home as a medical transcriptionist may be a viable option. Be sure to research the industry in-depth and reach out to local medical establishments to see if they still hire for these sorts of positions. It will also be beneficial to connect with other medical transcriptionists so that you can ask questions and find out more about this profession.
Good luck, and keep us posted!
Originally published February 25, 2009. The content was updated in September 2022.