A transcriptionist listens to recorded materials and types the material into written form. The most common industry for transcriptionists is the medical field but transcriptionists do work in the legal industry and others. Transcriptionists typically work in an office environment, but many complete their work from home.
Transcriptionists receive dictation (recordings) from professionals and type them to produce a written document. Depending on their level of experience and the field of work, transcriptionists may make corrections, such as fixing grammatical errors in speech. The transcriptionist generally works on deadlines and produces documents quickly and accurately. The professional usually receives the transcribed documents for approval and signature. Transcriptionists may physically retrieve and return the dictation and forms or the information or send them via the Internet or a company's intranet.
Many employers seek applicants with some postsecondary training in transcription. Many vocational schools and some community colleges offer training in transcription. Additional coursework or work experience that provides knowledge of the industry is beneficial for applicants to understand jargon and specialized terms used in the dictation. Employers often provide applicants with a skills test to determine their ability to complete the work in a timely manner. Applicants seeking to work from home will need to have a home computer and high-speed Internet access.
Transcriptionists work at a computer terminal in an office environment or from home. Transcriptionists use a device the plays cassette or digital recordings of dictation. The transcriptionist usually uses a headset to listen to the machine and operates the machine with a foot pedal so she can use her hands to type. Transcriptionists often have a private office or location to work free from distraction. Because of the nature of the work, transcriptionists typically have only occasional interactions with others in the office.
The earnings of transcriptionist vary depending on several factors. Many transcriptionists receive pay on a per line or per word basis, making their income dependent on the speed and accuracy of their work. Transcriptionists are often contracted workers who are not eligible for employer-provided fringe benefits such as vacation and sick leave or health insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in May 2008 the average wage of a medical transcriptionist was about $15.50 per hour.
Hospitals and other health care facilities that have large amounts of dictated work typically employ transcriptionists. From doctors to counselors, many medical providers require transcriptionists to create notes documenting care and treatment. Not only required for a patient's medical records, these documents also are for insurance billing and industry compliance. Law firms and various levels of government also employ transcriptionists to document meetings, legal proceedings, and to create letters and memos.