How To

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Charlie Meek

Charlie Meek

For the last 20 years, Charlie Meek has led creative and brand marketing …


Is learning how to become a medical transcriptionist something that sounds intriguing to you?

Also known as a medical scribe, this type of work offers a great way to work in a high excitement environment around doctors, physician assistants, and nurses.

It’s also flexible in terms of where you work. You can do your job either in-person or virtually as a telescribe.

In this article, you’ll gain an understanding of what’s involved when you need to know how to become a medical transcriptionist.

What Does a Medical Transcriptionist Do?

A medical transcriptionist works closely with doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to convert audio files into written files.

Doctors typically make audio recordings while working inside their practices. Some doctors use speech-to-text software that produces text of the doctor’s notes. A human being is required to make sure the software doesn’t have mistakes.

That’s where you come into the picture. You’ll type what you hear on the audio recordings. As well, you’ll correct any mistakes made by the speech-to-text software.

Your completed work ultimately ends up in each patient’s medical file.

How Is Working as a Medical Transcriptionist Different from a Medical Coder?

A medical coder uses the files produced by a medical transcriptionist to ensure that they’re up-to-date. Part of a medical coder’s responsibility is making sure that those files follow insurance requirements and federal regulations.

How Do I Become a Medical Transcriptionist?

You need a high school diploma or GED to find medical transcriptionist work. If you already have that, you’re ready for step two, which is to get specific transcriptionist training.

You can obtain this training by taking an online medical transcriptionist course. You need this training, or you won’t find anyone willing to hire you.

Research online to find the medical transcriptionist program that you like best. Here’s an example of one from Penn Foster . Online training programs let you work at your own pace.

How long does it take to become a medical transcriptionist? It typically takes one year to complete this postsecondary education. Once you graduate with your medical transcriptionist certification, you can start looking for jobs.

How Much Does a Medical Transcriptionist Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical transcriptionists average $16.96 per hour or $35,270 per year.

Keep in mind, though, that you have some control over how much you earn. You’ll get faster at your job as you gain experience.

You might start out earning less than $16 or $17 per hour because you aren’t as fast as other transcriptionists. As you gain speed, you can potentially move your pay above $20 per hour.

For example, let’s say you’re getting paid $0.06 per typed word. If you can transcribe a 2000-word report in four hours, you would earn $30 per hour (2000 x $0.06 = $120 / 4 hours = $30).

Are Requirements Different from State to State?

It doesn’t matter which state you live in. The requirements remain the same:

  • High school diploma
  • Get your postsecondary education completed
  • Apply for work

Skill Sets Required to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

If you have the following skills, then you’re a good match for the medical transcriptionist industry.

  • Critical thinking: You need to spot inconsistencies and inaccuracies inside the medical reports that you transcribe.
  • Writing skills: A good understanding of grammar helps.
  • Typing skills: This is the primary skill that you put to use in this field.
  • Computer skills: You should have comfort when working with word-processing software.
  • Time management skills: You may run into tight deadlines, so managing time becomes essential.
  • Listening skills: You need to listen to and interpret audio files.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel confident yet in all of the above categories. Your online training program will help you grow into confidence.

What Type of Equipment Does a Medical Transcriptionist Need?

Some transcriptionist resources discuss using a special machine to play the cassettes from doctors. However, that’s old technology. Today, your work gets done mostly via special software. You’ll need the following equipment to work as a medical transcriptionist:

  • Special software to play, pause, fast forward, and rewind audio files
  • Word processor, such as Word
  • Headset
  • Medical dictionary
  • Foot pedal

Your online training will teach you where to obtain the foot pedal, software, headsets, and everything else you need.

What’s the Career Progression for a Medical Transcriptionist?

You might wonder whether a medical transcriptionist position will remain a promising career in 2021 and beyond. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical transcriptionist employment should decline by 2% by 2029 .

One of the issues that the BLS says will cause this decline is a desire by healthcare practitioners to outsource the work more so that it’s not done in-house. That means virtual medical transcriptionists will become the preferred method for completing the work.

One concern is that technological advancements will make transcription software better at turning a doctor’s voice into accurate text. However, we need to use our critical thinking skills in this area. A need for a human being to make sure medical files remain 100% accurate will likely stay in high demand.

Lastly, consider that you’re working in the healthcare industry as a medical transcriptionist. Overall, the BLS predicts 15% growth in this sector by 2029. This means more doctors helping more patients. The result of that activity is more doctors making notes that need people like you to transcribe them.


Now that you’ve learned how to become a medical transcriptionist, does the work sound interesting to you?

If you’re looking for a flexible way to earn extra income from home, then this might turn into your best route for the future.

As noted above, the trend is moving away from in-person transcription work to favoring remote medical transcriptionists. Working to obtain this skill means you can work from anywhere you want to. It also allows you to set your own work schedule.

Does it all sound like a good fit for your life situation? Take the next step by signing up to get your online certification, and you’re on your way.