How to be Successful at Medical Transcription


So what is medical transcription and are medical transcription jobs in demand?


So firstly let’s look at what is medical transcription.  Simply put it is the typing up of clinician documents from audio files.

These audio files may contain treatment of patients, interviews with patients, operation information etc. Then these notes become formal records of the patient.

Next let’s look at whether you should spend money to train in this career.



According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it predicts a decline of only 2% in medical transcriptionist jobs between 2019 – 2029.

So that’s good news.

A quick search on Indeed in the US shows there are a lot of jobs out there.  This leads me to believe that Medical Transcription is NOT dead!

Now, let’s take a look at what equipment and tools are needed.

Medical Transcription Tools and Equipment

  • A foot pedal to work with the playback software.  The infinity pedal is compatible with Express Scribe.
  • Playback software such as Express Scribe
  • Medical transcription headphones – you will need headphones to hear clearly and for obvious confidentiality reasons.
  • A laptop or PC.
  • Broadband connection.

Can you Do Transcription Without a Foot Pedal?

It is possible to use playback software such as Express Scribe without a pedal. However, using a pedal will keep your hands free to type. This will increase your speed and allow you to transcribe more. This will lead to more money. Therefore, I would highly recommend a foot pedal.

Check out this article to see how you can increase both your speed and income from using a foot pedal.

How Hard is Medical Transcription?

Medical transcription is difficult. This is because of terminology and possible heavy accents.  As with any transcription, it is tough when you are not familiar with the person speaking or the subject matter. 

Saying that, the more you do the easier it becomes.

I, personally, don’t have much medical typing experience. I do, however, have a lot of general transcription experience. It is mostly transcribing disciplinaries and grievances.  At first, I had to research terms but now it has become a lot easier. 

Furthermore, you will get files with very poor sound or someone with a heavy accent.   This makes the transcription process take a lot longer.  And it can frustrate the heck out of you!  As a business owner, I advise charging more for a difficult transcription.

Why is it Needed?

It is vital to keep patient records up to date and accurate.  Busy medical professionals will record their diagnosis and treatment plans etc. 

Then medical transcriptionists will help physicians with their admin to release some of their workloads.  It is either done in-house or outsourced to a transcription company

Help on Tap (my business) has received files from a local hospital that has outsourced their audio. In fact, they were actually quite upsetting and this is something you will need to think about when entering this field of work.

What is Speech Recognition?

Speech recognition software translates audio into text automatically. 

A question often asked is will it replace medical transcripionists?

Speech recognition is only good for a single voice and clear audio.  If the person has a strong accent then the software may not work well.  

It is still a long way from perfection.  Furthermore, I have tried it with a few files I have received but have been extremely disappointed with it.  Saying that it was with 2 speakers and the sound quality was poor.

In conclusion, I believe the technology is not good enough to replace a transcriptionist. In addition, I believe the job will evolve into more of a proofreader role.

What is Medical Transcription and Editing?

Medical transcriptionists type up accurate medical records for clinicians. 

In comparison editors are specialized medical transcriptionists. They focus on correcting and editing the written reports generated by speech recognition software.

What is the Difference Between Medical Transcription and Coding?

As we have already covered medical transcription is the typing up of clinician documents from audio files. This may contain treatment of patients, interviews with patients, operation information etc.

Once transcribed medical coders then work with those files, making sure they are up-to-date and they comply with federal regulations and insurance requirements.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics medical coders can earn more money than medical transcriptionists.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

How Much Does Medical Transcription Pay?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that a medical transcriptionist could earn $33,380 per year which is a good salary.

Medical Transcriptionists Salary
So, if you want to start a career as a medical transcriptionist it is worth spending some money on getting certified.

Medical Transcription Training

Formats and Guidelines

When I learnt transcription in 1986 at college it covered the guidelines to adhere to e.g. dealing with numbers. 

There are a lot more rules for medical transcription and Meditec goes into a lot of depth.

Furthermore, Meditec will walk you through when to use spaces and when not to use spaces. For example, do not type a space before or after a hyphen and before or after a slash.  Another example is to type one space on each side of the x in an expression of dimension, e.g. 4 x 4.

In addition, it takes you through writing times and numbers.

Medical Transcription for Beginners

Most medical transcription jobs do ask for a degree or some experience.   

I believe it would be difficult without any experience to get a medical transcription job.  And suggest that you either do some sort of training or gain some general transcription experience first.

Check out this general transcription course which was developed to transform typists into transcriptionists in as little as 2-4 months.

Low Cost Solutions to Improving your Medical Transcription Skills

So you already have experience but feel your skills are rusty. Then why not purchase a low-cost book? One such book is Medical Transcription for Dummies. You may want to also purchase a medical abbreviations and acronyms sheet.

How to Learn Medical Transcription Online

Although certification is not necessary some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified.  This would give them a competitive advantage. Furthermore, as previously mentioned some jobs do ask for a qualification.

There are two certifications offered by AHDI:

The Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) is aimed at recent graduates of medical transcription training programs or those with less than two years of work experience.

The Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) is aimed at those who have at least two years of work experience.  It is also aimed at those who have already passed the RMT.

Typical Requirements for Medical Transcriptionists

Below is a list of requirements that most transcription companies ask for.

  • Professional transcription kit: Most transcription companies ask that you have a transcription kit so a foot pedal, playback software and headphones.
  • Registered self-employed: All transcription companies, that I have seen, ask that you are registered self-employed and will ask for some proof.
  • Typing speed of at least 60wpm: Although this does vary. I have seen some companies ask for 50wpm and other transcription companies 75wpm.
  • Great listening skills: Being able to listen and ensure that the content makes sense is a real skill.
  • High level of accuracy:
  • Good grasp of grammar and punctuation.
  • Editing skills – you must proofread your work. 
  • Great time management skills.
  • Ability to motivate yourself.
  • Reliability.

Some transcription companies ask for a DBA check.

Where to Find Medical Transcription Projects or Jobs

How to Avoid Scams

Unfortunately, there are scammers out there.  For example, they will offer you on the job training. In return, you need to buy their transcription software or hosting.   They will obviously get some sort of compensation for this. 

One such site is Virtual Office Temps Review – VOT – Is It A Scam or Legit? ( and they ask you to buy hosting for a website.  I signed up for this site many years ago but had a bad feeling about it.  I didn’t buy anything from them. However, I am still getting emails from them and there is no unsubscribe button.  If it sounds too good to be true then it usually is. 

My advice is don’t sign up for anything that asks you to buy a product in return for work/experience.  There are plenty of legit transcription companies out there.  I have listed a number below.

Most medical audio typing jobs are in hospitals or physician offices. However, there are medical audio typing jobs working from home.

Medical audio typing from home can be the perfect answer for mums with children. It can be an interesting and varied job. And it is totally flexible and fits in with family life.

Let’s firstly look at some UK Based Transcription Companies.  Please check their websites as the requirements may have changed.

UK Based Transcription Companies

Accuro – states that you must be based in the UK and must have secretarial experience.  This company is seeking both medical and legal transcriptionists.  The website advises that you should have a windows PC, Microsoft Office, a transcription equipment such as Express Scribe or Olympus transcription module.  Accuro don’t ask for you to work set hours but that you do complete work within the pre-agreed time.

Alphabet Secretarial – are seeking professional audio transcribers and proof readers. The equipment you need includes software to play any sound file, email, broadband, virus software, suitable cupping headphone such as Plantronics or Beyerdynamic, bose being their preferred supplier.  If successful you will need to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement. – provides medical transcription to the NHS and medical practitioners.  As such they only accept applications from experienced medical secretaries.  They pay on a per line basis.  You can use either a PC or a MAC.

Document Direct – currently recruiting experienced medical transcriptionists that are fully conversant with medical terminology.  The application form asks what foot pedal and headphones you use.

FingerTips Typing Services – have a form to apply for an audio typing position. It asks you to upload a CV and cover letter.  It doesn’t specify whether you have to be from the UK and there is no indication of the process.

McGowan Transcription – are looking for experienced, professional, accurate transcribers.  They ask that you are able to transcribe 120 minutes per day, five days a week or who can work at the weekend.  You would need to have a DBS certificate.  You will need to complete a 5 minute transcription test and then you will move onto phase 2 which is live files and you will be assessed to see if you are a good fit.

Transcription city – are asking for at least 5 years’ professional experience in your field and a typing speed of at least 60wpm.  Are looking for transcribers in all languages.  They also provide translation services.  In addition, they are looking for experienced subtitle technicians or closed captioners.

Type Out – states that all work is completed by UK typists and you must provide a UTR number. This is the number that you are given when you register as self-employed.  You must apply online and not ring them.  Some jobs require a DBS so it would be an advantage if you had one.  They are asking for a minimum audio typing speed of 75wpm.

US Based Transcription Companies

Acusis – is based in the US and asks for at least 3 years medical transcription experience.  They offer both full time and part time opportunities.  Hardware/Software required: PC with at least 1 GB of RAM, Microsoft Office Version 2003 or any newer version, and up-to-date virus scanner required.

Aquity Solutions –  must live in the US and have recent experience.

EHR Transcriptions – US based company.  On the form it asks how many years experience you have and if you have the necessary transcription equipment.  They are specifically looking for professional transcriptionists with experience in general transcription, especially in the areas of research.

Med-Scribe – Based in the US – it asks for your last 5 years work history.  This is a work agency rather than a transcription company.

World Wide Dictation  – Based in NY – there are no specific requirements given but ask how many years experience you have.

Project Based Websites

Upwork is a job website where people post projects.  You would then send a proposal for the work.  I signed up some years ago but never found any decent projects.  On checking it out recently the quality of projects has improved.  I was able to select jobs that only UK residents could apply for and the rate of pay seemed good.  I also did a search on medical transcription and there were some projects available. is a similar site to Upwork.  I have done one or two projects through this site in the past.  On checking it out there are some transcription projects.   

Top Tips on How to Improve Medical Transcription Skills

  1. Use a foot pedal – this will keep your hands free to type.  If you don’t use a foot pedal you would be fumbling to press the hot keys.
  2. Set your playback software to rewind back when you take your foot off the pedal.  This will allow you to re-listen to the audio. Hence ensuring you have heard it correctly.
  3. Have easy access to a medical terms dictionary or a medical abbreviations sheet.
  4. As well as knowing medical terminology it is important to know how doctors commonly abbreviate words.  For example, nitroglycerine is often shortened to nitro.
  5. It is also important to know when drugs should have an initial capital letter if they are a brand.
  6. Improve listening skills and knowledge – when transcribing a file it may be difficult to hear the difference between words. For example nitrates and nitrites. Knowing what each of these do will help you to choose the right spelling.
  7. Be consistent – use a text file to make notes of terms and names. This will ensure it is spelt the same throughout the transcript. When I check files I often see inconsistencies. For example, in a transcript a person’s name will be spelt two different ways such as Damien and Damian.
  8. Report any discrepancies – a medical transcriptionist is expected to spot any discrepancies in the audio. For example, if the audio file is about a 10 year old patient and it states the patient is a 12 year old later on then this should be highlighted.
  9. Spot mistakes – this will come with experience. A medical audio typist may spot mistakes with patients’ diagnosis or treatments. This could potentially save a patient’s life. And would be valuable to medical professionals.
  10. Proofread your work – this is extremely important.  Once you have transcribed it then check it over carefully.  I proofread all my transcripts and it is amazing some silly errors I spot.  If it is a really difficult file then I will check it a third time.  That’s why I have kept my clients for over 9 years now. Hence, accuracy is so important. People will also pay more for quality.

What is a Medical Transcription Test?

A Medical Transcription test will generally start with multiple-choice questions.  These will focus on terminology, grammar, punctuation and capitalization. It will be pretty straight forward if you have completed an MT training program. 

Next the transcription portion will contain a number of audio files at varying difficulty levels.  There is likely to be a very difficult file but you wouldn’t be expected to transcribe this perfectly. 

The medical transcription for dummies book gives advice on doing tests.

Myth Busters about Medical Transcription

Speed is the most important

This is so untrue with transcription in general. Attention to detail and concentration is far more important.

Anyone can do medical transcription

As already mentioned medical transcription is difficult and as such not everyone would be able to do it.  Ideally, you would need to be trained as a MT and it is very unlikely that a transcription company will take on a person who has little or no training. 

Speech recognition will make medical transcriptionists obsolete

There are some transcription companies and medical institutes that are using speech recognition software. As previously mentioned this technology is not perfect. It requires a person to check the transcript to ensure it is accurate.

It may be that there will be less actual medical audio typing but that the role develops into an editing role. I, personally, would prefer this type of role.

Having used some speech recognition software I believe it is a long, long way off making medical transcriptionists redundant!

Medical transcription is being outsourced to countries abroad where transcription is cheaper

This is so untrue because of changes in federal laws in 2010 relating to protecting patient health information.  These changes made compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules an even higher priority. So medical transcription companies and healthcare facilities need to keep tighter control over patient information. Therefore it needs to be done within the US.

So this year has seen an increase in people working from home.  This is nothing new for me, as I have been working from home since 2008. So let’s examine both the pros and cons of working from home.

Advantages of working from home

  • Flexibility:  This will give a better work/life balance.  As a remote working medical transcriptionist you can select the hours you want to work.  You can fit these around times that you need to drop off the kids or pick them up.  You can choose hours that fit in with your life.

  • No stressful commuting time: You don’t have to travel in a stressful environment.  Thus packed trains and buses can be very stressful these days.  On average your commute would be about an hour a day.  This is an hour you could be focusing on more healthy activities, such as a workout or eating a good breakfast.

  • More productive:  You would not have the distractions of other office staff.  This would mean less noise thus you would be more productive.

  • Travel Savings:  You would not have any travel costs. 

  • Clothes Savings: You would not have to buy any work clothes.

  • No childcare costs:  Working from home means that you fit in your work around your children.

  • Reduce risk of getting viruses:  The less contact you have with people the less likely you are to catch viruses.

  • No office politics:  When self-employed you don’t get involved in meetings and office politics.  Some people can find these very stressful and overwhelming.

  • More relaxed:  When you are in your own environment you are more relaxed.  You don’t have to wear a suit and you can even work in your pyjamas.

Disadvantages of working from home

  • Distractions:  There could be other distractions such as housework, children, making meals etc., which could lead to a lower productivity.

  • Motivation: You need to be disciplined to motivate yourself.

  • Isolation:  You can feel isolated working from home alone. 

Farewell Thoughts: Medical transcriptionist is a job that is still in demand and will only decline 2% up until 2029. If this is the career you decide on then it is definitely worth investing in training. If you are still deciding then it would be best to try some general transcription first to see if it is right for you. In conclusion, in the current climate working from home doing medical transcription is a great way to earn a living.

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