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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 02-27-2010, 10:11 PM
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Question How do I get started?

I am interested in doing transcription work, but have no idea what it takes to get started. Please advise on the following:
Are there any upfront costs or training?
Would I have to work for a company or can I be an independent contractor?
What's the average pay?
Is it better to pay per audio hour, line transcribed, audio minute, by the word or character? What is a realistic expectation of earnings?
What type of software do I need?
What are the pitfalls of the business? (What's the worst case scenario?)
What all gets transcribed and is there special training required for each?

Thank you and I appreciate your advise!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 02-28-2010, 01:23 AM
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What type of transcription work are you interested in doing? Medical, legal or general? I am a general transcriptionist, so I will answer your questions based on doing general transcription. I have been a general transcriptionist for just over 1 year.

Remember that medical transcription is not an immediate work at home type of job. You do need training and most places you apply to will require that you have at least 2 years working in an office before you can work from home. Medical transcription is also being outsourced to foreign countries more than other type of transcription.

IMO, general transcription is the quickest and easiest type to get into with a minimum of cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arbonne__lady View Post
I am interested in doing transcription work, but have no idea what it takes to get started. Please advise on the following:

Are there any upfront costs or training? Little to no training needed for general transcription. You should have an excellent command of English, have very good to excellent grammar skills, be able to listen and understand what is being said and then transcribe those words to the page in a way that can be understood. You also need to a have a relatively fast typing speed. Upfront costs include a foot pedal which can be bought used and computer headphones. This is the minimum you would need to buy.

Would I have to work for a company or can I be an independent contractor? You can do whatever you choose. Actually, most companies will hire you as an independent contractor, but I think you mean do you need to contract for a company or have your own clients. As I said, you can do whatever you choose. I do both. I like having a contract because it's a steady source of income. I also like having my own clients because the TAT is up to me and the client and I can set the rate of pay.

What's the average pay? A beginner general transcriptionist usually starts out advertising services around $25 - $30 an audio hour. This is not the same as a work hour. If it takes you 4 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio at $30 AH, you would make $7.50 an hour. Not a lot of money, but it gets you some clients and then you can raise your rates as you get more experienced. Mid range transcriptionists charge about $60 per AH and then the larger companies will charge $90 + per AH.

Is it better to pay per audio hour, line transcribed, audio minute, by the word or character? What is a realistic expectation of earnings? I prefer to be paid by the audio hour / audio minute. I usually advertise using the audio minute because I use Craig's List and that seems to be what most people look at. Companies that you contract with are different and offer payment using all of the above methods. Only you can set your expectations of income based on how often you work (full time or part time) and by how much you charge.

What type of software do I need? Some version of Word and a free copy of Express Scribe. You probably already have Word on your computer.

What are the pitfalls of the business? (What's the worst case scenario?) To me, pitfalls and worst case scenario would be that you don't get paid. If you contract with a company, you will most likely be paid on a regular basis, but if you have private clients it is highly likely that you will get stiffed one day. That is why it's important to have a contract detailing all aspects of your relationship and, if possible, you need to receive a deposit before you begin work.

What all gets transcribed and is there special training required for each? Anything that is on audio can be transcribed. Some things are more technical, like financial reports, but each company will train you on their specific style. Medical transcription and legal transcription does require training, but most general does not. If you work for your own clients, you can use their preferences for format or use your own. If your general client has some specialized audio to be transcribed, such as a grad student in a medical or engineering field, you will have to do some research on the terms used to make sure you are transcribing them properly.

Thank you and I appreciate your advise!
I hope this answers some of your questions and if you need anything else feel free to PM me.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:39 AM
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Hi Arbonne_Lady,

Crouton's post is excellent advice. She is dead on with her info, as always.

Here is some additional information for you. You can take a typing test here: Typing Test - Learn2Type.com - learn to type online FREE typing tutor and typing tests, typing certification to see how fast you type. You should probably type at least 40 wpm to start and preferably about 50 wpm or more to do transcription work.

There are places on the web you can go to work on grammar, punctuation, etc. to make sure you are well enough versed in them. This site here: Grammar Tutorials - framed version is an excellent site to check out. It's The Basic Elements of English and it's an interactive guide so you can actually test yourself and find out how much you really know or you can brush up on your skills.

All your transcription companies will require you to have a really good command of the English language, especially on confusing words like effect vs. affect, their, they're & there, your & you're, then & than or it's vs. its. It is really important that you know the difference in those words and use them properly.

Here are a couple of companies that you should be able to get on with fairly quickly to find out if you like transcription and want to pursue it. They will also help you get experience so you can get on with better paying companies, if you find that you like doing transcription. One is Quicktate, they have a thread on here and you can read about them. Another company is Call Graph. There is plenty of info about both of them on the forum.

The WAHM forum can help you immensely in answering your questions and having other people to talk to and share with.

Hope that helps.
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
A beginner general transcriptionist usually starts out advertising services around $25 - $30 an audio hour. This is not the same as a work hour. If it takes you 4 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio at $30 AH, you would make $7.50 an hour. Not a lot of money, but it gets you some clients and then you can raise your rates as you get more experienced. Mid range transcriptionists charge about $60 per AH and then the larger companies will charge $90 + per AH.
Nobody should be working for $25 or $30 per audio hour. It devalues the profession.

Practice, practice, practice. Download some practice audio, download the software you need and practice until you're comfortable with the equipment and with transcription in general. It is not a no-skills-required profession. Yes, your rate will increase with your experience, but you must practice until you have enough expertise to ask for and receive a decent starting rate.

And you will never be a successful transcriptionist without knowing how to do research. Asking questions is fine, but only after you've exhausted all of your research options. You didn't ask a single question in your post that you couldn't have answered for yourself with minimal research.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:02 PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions and information. I appreciate it.

@Susan C: Yes, research on your own is necessary, however, getting input from others that are already in this profession is beneficial as well. It can save you from wasted hours and getting incorrect information or taken in by scams. I'll be honest, today was my first day in looking in to transcription. I'd already downloaded ExpressScribe, then came across this message board. Practice makes perfect sense. I wouldn't want to dissapoint a client by testing myself on their dime. Besides, the more you practice, the better (or should be) you are.

@Crouton - I would definitely be starting as a GT (general transcriptionist). I'm looking to get started soon without having to pay upfront costs for additional training and education. I do have word, as well as pages (mac). Still a little confused about the pay types, meaning which is most beneficial for both the typist and the client. But that should come with time and learning.

@Sadie1Lady1 - Thank you for the links and company suggestions. I'm familiar with Learn2Type, and have an average typing speed of 65-70wpm. I will check my grammer usage and understanding. I will also review the companies that you suggested.
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:10 PM
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You got some really good answers and links to help you move forward. That's what transcription forums are about -- helping potential transcriptionists (and one another) -- and you lucked out finding WAHM.

There are a few companies that will consider hiring someone without experience, but you have to be very prepared as noted in the previous posts.

It sounds as though you've already done some "homework." One item I didn't see mentioned was a resume. I don't know what your background is, but most companies require a resume. Take care to specifically note any type of transcription you may have done in a business office, i.e., transcribing correspondence, legal or real estate documents, that kind of thing.

Good luck!
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:45 AM
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Yes, I agree with doing research, but you can spend countless hours researching instead of working. I've been a part of this site since 2005. I've always asked questions if I couldn't find the answer I needed. Saving a step or two here and there can also help in getting closer to the job you are looking for. Don't ever hesitate to ask anyone for help. Always continue to do research, if you can't find the answers you're looking them post the questions here. Also Crouton has great advice.

First, if you're just starting out, then general transcription is the best place to start. But don't ever sell yourself short. To me, the most money can be made in legal and medical transcription. Yes, you are required to have experience, but there are companies that will hire you through recommendations of MT schools and LT schools. I can put the input in as far as legal goes. I've been doing legal since 1994. I love it. I first started at home in 2005 doing general transcription, but was not that successful at it. I'm not a big fan of general transcription because some, not all, of the audio is not good. This is my opinion only because I've done GT for two years. Again, it is a good place to start if you are trying to get your foot in the door.

This is my second stint at home, and I decided if I'm going to work from home it's going to be in a field that I'm the most comfortable in, legal. I make just as much money at home doing legal as I would if I were in a firm. Most general (not all) pay per audio hour. Medical and Legal pay by the word or line. I know how many lines I need to type for Sten-Tel each month to bring in what I need every month. I also work for court reporters in my State. I actually started with Sten-Tel and then one of the ladies that I know at the courthouse gave my name to the criminal court reporter here in my county. I love working for her. She then in turn gave my name to another criminal court reporter in the State, and then another. So, if Sten-Tel is not busy, I am busy with them and vice versa. I'm hardly without work.

As I said, don't sell yourself short on anything. Yes, start in general transcription. When you get that down, maybe take a few classes in medical or legal and work your way up. Just keep plugging and it will be very rewarding in the end.
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Old 03-05-2010, 08:12 PM
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Hey SoccerMomx2,

Since you work in legal, I have a question for you. What exactly is involved in legal transcribing/court reporting? I have a legal background in mortgages, titles & real estate but I don't know if that is considered legal or not so I don't mention it. But now I'm wondering. Also is PD transcribing considered legal or is it general?

Tia for your help.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:06 AM
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Hey Sadie1Lady1:

That's a really good question, because there are so many different types of legal. You have corporate, you have family law, you have real estate (which deals with closings), you have foreclosures, you have collections (done this before it's very intense, as well as foreclosures), personal injury (which I totally stay far away from), insurance defense (which defends lawsuits on the personal injury), Workers' Comp claims and defense, medical malpractice and criminal. Those are the ones off the top of my head right now that I can think of.

With that said, for Sten-Tel, it's strictly insurance defense and Workers' Comp defense. I have had almost 20 years experience in these fields. I love working for Sten-Tel. My account managers are awesome and if I need anything I can count on them for help. I type anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 lines for them a month. They pay once a month, on time, every time! That's a plus.

Now, onto my court reporters. I don't do depositions anymore. The money is not in the depositions. It can be if you do enough of them. They charge by the page, as well as the criminal court reporters. The criminal court reporters that I work for I get more money per page. I mainly do trials for them, and most of them are murder trials, death penalty trials, rape, sexual assault, child sex assault. Each state has an indigent rate for transcripts, which means the defense attorneys are court-appointed and you can't charge any more than the rate applied due to the Defendant not being able to pay for his attorney. The only time you will ever do a transcript is if the Defendant is found guilty, because at the end of the trial, the defense attorney will automatically request an appeal. Then the transcript is order because the appellate attorney has to have it to go before the Court of Appeals. I'm not sure what the indigent rate is for each state; however, here in NC it's $1.35 per page. I've done transcripts for indigents (or guilty Defendants) in excess of 2,000 pages. I've done some as little as 500 pages.

I've also done med mal cases where they are not indigent cases, and I charge $2.00. The most I received from that job was $4,100.

I mean, there is a lot of money that can be made in legal. The way the crime rate is here in the US, as of right now, my job is secure. Not to mention all the legitimate and bogus lawsuits filed. Yes, there are many lawsuits that are legitimate, but there are those that far outweigh those that aren't. You want to know why our insurance rates are so high? Do insurance defense for at least a year and you'll know, and that is healthcare and car insurance.

This sounds like a lot of info, but I hope I answered some of your questions. If you have anymore, just ask and I promise I'll do what I can to answer them the best way I know how, and accurately!
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:15 AM
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Thanks SoccerMomx2. Your answer was awesome. I'm going to PM you as I'd like to get into some more details with you and I'm also in NC.
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