If you are interested in working in the language services industry, becoming a transcriptionist is one of the choices open to you. The job is demanding, but it’s also rewarding.
Definition of a Transcriptionist
A transcriptionist is a specialist in documentation. The job entails listening to voice recordings and converting them into written documents. It requires patience and serious training.
The job might involve transcribing recordings of legal, medical and other topics. Becoming a transcriptionist requires having excellent typing skills and keen hearing. It requires accuracy and a commitment to producing a written document of high quality.
Types of Transcription Work
Some professional transcriptionists prefer to specialize in a specific field such as law or medicine, but you can do general transcription if you wish. Being a general transcriptionist is typically suitable for those who are just starting out, enabling them to gain experience, and handle different topics. It could help them decide whether they want to specialize or remain a general transcriptionist.
In doing general transcription work, you'll typically listen to recordings of college lectures, court hearings, business meetings, personal conversations and other types of recordings requiring a written reference.
Many companies, organizations and individuals require document transcription services. Aside from the types of audio files mentioned above, you might receive the task of transcribing phone conversations, teleconferences, speeches, articles, script correspondence, dictations, forums, meetings, reports, manuscripts and interviews.
Becoming a Transcriptionist
The level of training and education you need to become a transcriptionist depends on whether you want to specialize in medical or legal transcription or you want to stick to general transcription work.
Becoming a transcriptionist does not require very extensive training. Several online courses to be a transcriptionist are available. If you want to specialize, then you need a certificate or associate degree in either court reporting, legal transcription, or medical transcription. Some states in the U.S. require certification or licensure for legal and medical transcriptionists.
Required Skills to Become a Transcriptionist
Becoming a transcriptionist requires patience, as mentioned earlier. You cannot choose the quality of the recording you’ll transcribe, so there would be instances where you receive audio files that are of low quality and difficult to understand.
You should be a good typist and have a keen ear. Computer skills are essential, as aside from downloading files, the work might entail research. You should likewise be comfortable using word processing programs.
The typing speed should be of about 60 to 75 words per minute, with an accuracy of at least 98%. You should be a fluent, culturally-aware speaker of the language of the recordings, so you can understand its many nuances. Your command of a language should be in both the colloquial and formal styles. Your grammar and spelling skills should be excellent, and you should also have good knowledge of punctuations. It is also a good idea to use a good writing editor to check your text for sentence construction and grammar, as well as spelling.
To help you decide if becoming a transcriptionist is the career for you, here are some ideas.
- Try doing transcription on your own, without the use of specialized equipment, aside from a decent pair of headphones. Listen to an audio recording and try to transcribe it. You may have to stop and restart the recording to be able to type the spoken words.
- If you are adept at it, consider looking for an online transcriptionist course, or you can take a certificate or associate degree. The classes will help you understand transcription work better and give you the skills you need to become a professional.
- You need constant practice to gain the confidence you need to apply to language service companies - or find direct clients, if you decide to go freelance.
- Considering the number of people speaking in the recording and their intended meaning are also good habits to cultivate.
The Complexity of Transcription Work
Transcription work sounds easy since it only involves listening to audio files and typing. In reality, however, transcription is quite complicated. It takes commitment and full involvement in the job to ensure that you produce excellent work.
One of the things that complicate the transcription process is the quality of the audio files. You are lucky if the audio files you receive from clients are crisp and clear. Working with this type of files, you’ll be able to type out the transcript quite quickly. Some recordings may be complicated, with unique terminology and local jargon, or a very poor audio quality. People speaking with strong accents, and those with a low and soft voice can make the recording difficult to understand. Transcribing such files takes longer because you have to listen to the recording several times. So you’ll need to exercise patience.
Some clients have specific style guides that you have to follow strictly. You require attention to details to ensure that your formatting of the document is correct.
Essential Tools for Transcription
If you're seriously thinking of becoming a transcriptionist, you need some tools.
One of the first things you need is transcription software. Some of them are free and downloadable, which is excellent for a beginner to use. Others cost between $50 and $100. Some of the software is available for Windows or OSX only, while others can be used for different operating systems. Choose the right one for you. The best transcription program should be able to play different video and audio file types, such as dct, wma, mp3 or wav files, with customizable time code settings (timestamps).
A good to excellent pair of headphones is essential, so you should invest in one that is of above-average quality. While personal preference may dictate which headphones to buy, here are some tips to help you make the right decision.
It is better to have a pair of headphones that come with a 3.5mm jack, which is stronger than USB headphones with a sound card. The sound card is attached and breaks easily. Earbuds might be comfortable, but only for short periods. They are suitable for noise cancellation, but your ears will suffer if you use them for a long time.
Supra-aural or on-ear headphones are alright as they rest over your earlobes, but they can be quite uncomfortable, especially when they are too tight.
Circumaural, closed-ear or over-ear headphones have ear cups. The cups cover your ears. Soft and slightly thicken by padding, wearing them is quite comfortable. If you are working in a quiet room, this is the best type of headphones to pick. Their noise rejection feature is not very good, so they are not recommended when you are working in a noisy environment.
Be sure to test the headphones for comfort. Look for ones that are durable and with a smooth mid-range, between 250 Hz and 2000 Hz, which is the frequency of the human voice.
Instead of turning the audio recording on and off while listening to it so you can have a full grasp of the recording, it is better to invest in a foot pedal (WAV pedal). The foot pedal allows you to play, pause, fast forward or rewind an audio recording using your foot. Although some transcription programs will enable you to use keyboard hotkeys, a foot pedal helps you concentrate on typing. You can buy a foot pedal separately while you can purchase some programs bundled with a foot pedal. If you buy your foot pedal separately, make sure it’s compatible with the transcription program you use.
You need a word processing application to type and edit the document. Make sure it can produce files in the format your clients request.
You likewise need a reliable and high-speed Internet connection. Most transcriptionists work from home. If you’ll be one of them, make sure your home’s Internet connection allows you to receive and send files securely.
Becoming a transcriptionist requires you to be a fast and efficient worker who will be able to deliver accurate transcriptions within the deadline. You should be discreet and assure the client that their transcription project remains confidential.
Get Excellent Transcription Services Anytime, Anywhere
Transcription is a complex task that requires dedication, time, attention to details and strong linguistic command. Day Translations, Inc. offers the best transcription services, whether you require general transcription, legal transcription or medical transcription. Our linguists have the right skills and decades of expertise, as well as the certification to do the job properly and accurately. They are native speakers who live in your target country, assuring you that they understand not only local culture but the nuances of the language as well. Our offices are open 24/7, 365 days of the year, so you can call us at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us whenever you need transcription services.