A blog for the work-at-home professional by a work-at-home professional.


Some people have actually told me that they want my job. That's because I don't have to get dressed and wear makeup to go to work. I don't have to worry about transportation and getting late for work since my work station is but a few steps from my bed.

And best of all, I don't have a degree, but I make more money than most college graduates here do. So how much do I earn? Suffice it to say that I earn more than most office employees in my province. I pay all the bills at home. And I do have some money left over to buy some of the things I want -- like this laptop that I'm using right now.

As I have mentioned before, I've been a transcriptionist for two years now. I started working as a medical transcriptionist in 2007 for a medical transcription firm in Manila, but I came home and decided to work at home. I was able to find a job through Craigslist. I've been a media/business transcriptionist since August of 2007 and so far, I'm happy with my job although I'm planning to shift to web development because I'd like to try something new.

What exactly is transcription? Wikipedia defines it as "the conversion of spoken words into written language." If I were to be asked what I do for a living, I'd say that, essentially, I just type what I hear. But for some, it may not be as easy as it sounds. It requires certain skills and knowledge which are as follows:

1) GOOD LANGUAGE SKILLS -- This includes a good grasp of English grammar, the ability to listen and perceive nuances of pronunciation, and basic knowledge of the rules of punctuation and style.

2) BASIC COMPUTER SKILLS -- One does not have to be a computer genius to be a transcriptionist. A basic proficiency in MS Word, Excel and Internet research will do.

3) GOOD TYPING SKILLS -- Most people say that transcription is not about knowing how to type well. But for me, speed and accuracy in typing is essential if you would like to be a productive transcriptionist. Simply put, the faster you type, the more transcripts you produce in a day and the more you produce, the more you earn.

4) SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE -- Transcription necessitates the ability to understand what is being said through context clues. In other words, a transcriptionist needs to know what is being talked about in order to correctly transcribe what is being said by the speaker. For instance, a medical transcriptionist has to be familiar with medical terms and drugs' generic names and brands and has to study the basic concepts of anatomy and physiology in order to be able to transcribe doctors' reports accurately. Legal transcriptionists have to be familiar with the legal terms, especially the Latin ones. Even media transcriptionists like me have to be familiar with the names (especially the pronunciation and spelling) of TV personalities like George Stephanopoulos (whew!) and Lola Ogunnaike.

Now, for more information on how to develop the three skills that I mentioned above and for free resources online, read my previous post, "Basic Skills that Every Online Professional Should Have." You can read that post by clicking here.

As for specialized knowledge, you need to determine in what area or field of transcription you are well-suited for. Some graduates and students of medicine and nursing get into medical transcription. Law students and graduates may work as legal transcriptionists. Wide readers and erstwhile couch potatoes like me are well-suited for media transcription. You may take up special courses like I did. I studied medical transcription for six months.

Aside from a computer and an Internet connection, what else does a transcriptionist need to have?

1) A GOOD WORD PROCESSING SOFTWARE -- I use MS Word, but alternatively, you can use Writer, a free word processor from Open Office. It's free and it's compatible with MS Word. To download the Open Office suite, click here.

2) A TRANSCRIPTION SOFTWARE -- A transcription software is a program that plays back sound files. The best transcription software I have ever used so far is Express Scribe. Other transcription softwares make the speaker sound like Darth Vader when you slow down the speed. Not Express Scribe -- you can adjust the speed without affecting the pitch of the speaker's voice. And did I mention that it's free? To download Express Scribe, click here.

However, as a media transcriptionist, I transcribe video files. Sometimes, there are captions that I need to type. Express Scribe can only play the sound in video files. I have not tried any free video transcription software. I use StartStop which was provided by the transcription company that I work for.

Beware: Some transcription "firms" promise to train you for free and guarantee you a job, but they will actually charge you an astronomical price for the transcription software (like $600). I almost got duped; fortunately, my uncle didn't lend me money for the software. Why pay when you can get one for free?

3) A HEADSET -- Actually, a pair of good earphones or headphones will do. Sometimes, I use my MP3 player's earphones.

4) A FOOT PEDAL -- You can actually do without this one -- if you're just practicing. Anything that the foot pedal can do, the mouse can also do. Express Scribe allows the use of "Hot Keys" -- F keys that have the same function as a foot pedal. However, if you would like to be a productive transcriptionist and earn more and would like to concentrate better on what you're transcribing, then you should get one.

You can purchase a foot pedal from Executive Communications Systems, Inc. I believe that Executive Communications Systems is a trustworthy company. The transcription firm that I work for ordered a foot pedal for me last year. I found Executive Communications Systems' website address on the sticker affixed on the underside the footpedal that was sent to me by the transcription firm. It was delivered via FedEx from the U.S. to Kalibo, Aklan, my hometown. It is still in excellent condition; my first foot pedal lasted only 10 months. To buy a foot pedal, click on the banner below.

Transcription requires some basic skills that may be acquired through constant practice. The knowledge part is easy; I studied medical transcription for only six months. Well, I don't even use what I studied because I transcribe news reports. The investment is minimal and may be recouped within months. This could be a lucrative job depending on one's level of skill and productivity. It could be rewarding and it is certainly worth-trying.

To find transcription jobs, go to my resource page titled "JOBS" by clicking here. You will find a list of websites where you can find job postings from people who need transcription services.

Good luck!

Update: Want a transcription job? The company I work for is hiring! Be sure to click on the banner above my blog posts.


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