How to Become a General Transcriptionist (Free training!)

general transcription how-to and resources transcription skills transcription work from home work from home freedom Jul 13, 2021
woman on MacBook Pro sitting on couch

I don’t know if it is just me, but the labor market is just wild right now. So many people are walking away from unstable jobs or toxic work environments looking for safer conditions, better pay, or more flexibility in their schedule. Maybe you are looking for a more flexible career too with more control of your income and your schedule. I was in that same place a few years ago when my husband’s health needed more attention. That is when I found general transcription, a flexible career where I could work for myself, set my own hours, and still decide if and when I wanted to take time off or even travel.


Maybe you have heard about general transcription but you have wondered if it was actually a legitimate work from home job. Surely, there were many companies who pivoted to “work from home” in the past 18 months, but what did that mean? Did that mean you had flexibility over your schedule or were you still expected to be present over video conference? Unlike many corporate positions, general transcription is a legitimate work-from-home job where you can set your own hours, generate your own income, and work according to your priorities, whether that is caring for your health or spending more time with your family. In fact, general transcription was just listed as one of 15 Real Work from Home Jobs that Pay Well in 2021.

Curious to know how to get started? I am going to walk you through the 4 things you should know about getting started. Plus, I even have a free training to share with you at the end! 


1. Can anyone become a general transcriptionist? 

The people who find the most success with general transcription are very detail-oriented with good listening skills. Plus, they have taken the time to invest in learning and mastering the skill of transcribing. Here are a few other qualities of a great general transcriptionist:


  • You have a typing speed of 60 words per minute or more. (You can actually check out what your current typing speed is at Typing Test.)
  • You work well on your own. Considering how you have to be dialed in and listening intently to a file while transcribing, it is definitely best for people who like to work solo. It is not group project work, but don’t worry… the community of transcribers is a great bunch, and there are many people you can ask for help and support when you need it. We actually have a Facebook group where all of our students can ask questions, get support, or even commiserate or find humor in our line of work. Transcription Alliance is also a great community for support. 
  • People often ask you to proofread their work. Does that ever happen to you where someone asks you to look over their email or their resume or a letter, and you start spotting the errors pretty quickly? Furthermore, you know how to improve the spelling and grammar so their piece really shines and clearly communicates their message. If that is something you naturally do, you might make a great transcriptionist.


I actually listed out a few more reasons you would make a great transcriptionist at 9 Signs you would make a great transcriptionist if you want to dive a little deeper into this.


Now that you have determined you have natural skills that are well suited for general transcription, you might be wondering...

2. What tools do I need to get started?

The good thing is that you can start transcribing with a few basic tools at first. As you progress and perfect your skills, you might consider investing in some higher-quality tools. But that can be down the road once you have generated income. Here are a few tools that will come in handy at the beginning though.


  • There is no question you will need a good computer with a solid Internet connection. The beautiful thing about general transcription as a legitimate work-from-home job is that it really is a work-from-anywhere job, as long as you have reliable Internet service. In fact, Charly from Connected Transcriptions took our Transcribe Anywhere courses, and she is generating income and making memories with her family in Spain. It is stories like hers that remind me why I want to help so many families build flexible careers and businesses. 
  • A good set of headphones will also be necessary. You may find occasionally that a certain piece of audio may be hard to hear. A good set of headphones will go a long way in filtering through the cross talk and background noise.
  • A quiet workspace that is ergonomically suited for your comfort. When you start, you may wish to jump in and start work immediately at your kitchen table. However, as you spend more time in your work and make more money, it will be important to maintain proper posture and support your back and neck while you are typing. 
  • One more tool that will really help improve your efficiency is a foot pedal. A foot pedal makes it very easy to start and stop audio and replay pieces of audio as necessary until your document is clearly transcribed and formatted correctly.

3. How do I need to get organized to work from home?

You will need a good physical workspace free from distractions as well as a way to digitally organize your files and manage your projects. Additionally, there are a few apps that I have used that really help with productivity and to-do lists. So let’s break this down.


Home office and physical workspace

  • We already discussed the tools you might use. I have found that a physical workspace where I can maintain quiet free from other distractions is really the best environment for me to produce the highest quality work. Some other features your home office may need are a good computer or laptop, a comfortable and ergonomically supportive chair, or even an ergonomically correct keyboard. In case you are trying to build your home office on a tight budget, these tips might be useful.


Setting up your business

  • Whether you sign your clients on your own or you work for an agency, you will still need a few basic systems set up to keep the business side of things organized and clear. Here are a few fundamental systems to put in place:
  • Communication: you can simply set up a separate gmail address for all business communications. This gives you a professional appearance for clients as well as keeping your business and personal communication from getting tangled together. 
  • Accounting: Regardless of how you have your business finances set up, you will need to keep track of all the income you generate so you can adequately report your income at tax time. Wave is a cloud-based accounting software that is perfect for freelancers or those with a small team. It can help with invoices, reports, expenses, and syncing to your bank accounts. 
  • Project Management: Trello is an excellent project management tool. It essentially functions like post-it notes on a whiteboard. This can help you track clients and potential leads, organize important documents as well, and track progress and deadlines for all your transcription files. 


Delivering Excellent Client Work and Maximizing Productivity

  • For delivering excellent transcription files, I have found Express Scribe to be one of the easiest transcription softwares to use. It is definitely very popular in the industry for good reason. It is easy to use, integrates with USB foot pedals for enhanced efficiency, and supports most popular audio formats such as WAV, MP3, WMA, and more.
  • To keep track of your time and make sure you are maximizing your schedule, I recommend Toggl. This app is so helpful for sticking to your schedule, staying focused and on track during work hours, and keeping you accountable to your deadlines. Deadlines are so very important in this industry as many clients expect quick turn-arounds on their transcription files. That is why a time-tracking app can be so crucial to your success.
  • Managing your To-Do list. I mentioned Trello above but truly, time is money in the transcription field. If you can master transcription skills, improve your typing speed, and deliver high-quality work to your clients by the deadline, you will do well in this field. Our graduate Joanna Norman actually shared her amazingly efficient method of maintaining 4 to-do lists that you might find helpful. 

4. Now, for the “make it or break it” question: Where do I find clients who will actually pay me for this transcription work?


To be quite honest, many people have been concerned about AI overwhelming the transcription field. I actually addressed that worry on the blog when I argued why AI can’t replace human transcription. The truth is video marketing is ramping up more than ever before. With more video content, more business owners need transcription support. Plus, as previously shared above, AI cannot detect context, proper names, even cross talk, the same way a human can.

So general transcription is definitely in demand with the explosion of videos and even podcasts that many businesses are starting to use online. I actually had a conversation with Emily about how Youtubers are using transcription services to make their videos more accessible and easy to consume.


Plus, for all the students of our courses who pass the exams and obtain certification, we actually host a Transcriptionist Directory, where we happily list your business name, your certifications, any specialties you may offer and how potential clients can contact you. Many of our graduates really appreciate that exposure. 

Ready for your free training?

Now that you know everything you need to get started, I have a special gift for you! After years of experience in the general transcription field, I saw how rewarding and beneficial it was for my family. That is why I am so committed to helping other families find success in general transcription as a flexible career. To help you find this same rewarding flexibility, get started with my free mini-course here. I can't wait to see you on the inside!


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