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Back in the '90's, I worked in a word processing center of a law firm. All day, every day I would hook up my earpiece, push a foot pedal under my desk and transcribe cassette tapes of memos, meetings, and other events. Because my typing speed was pretty decent and my spelling and grammar were great, I did pretty well as a transcriptionist. Since then, I've transcribed off and on for extra money. Transcribing is one of the easiest ways to break into working from home and really, you don't need a whole lot of experience. In some cases, you don't need any prior transcription experience to get a job.
If you're ready to work from home and want to get your foot in the door, then transcribing might be an option. But let me say this first - working from home is not a walk in the park. Get your ducks in a row first. Make sure you have all of the equipment you need. Tell your friends and family you're interested in working from home and when you do land a work from home job (yes, I said "when" because I have faith in you, even if you don't!), set up a schedule and stick to it. Keep interruptions to a minimum. I used to have a recording on my phone, telling callers I was working and giving them a good time to call me back. Treat your new work from home job like a job! Note that you'll be an independent contractor and not an employee, meaning you'll be responsible for your taxes and stuff like that. Check with an accountant or you can get more details from the Internal Revenue Service.
What is transcription and what does a transcriber do?
Well, transcription involves listening to a recording of something and typing what you hear into a document. You then send back what you've typed to the client in a file. Boom! It could be an author dictating a novel, it could be a business owner needing a transcription of meeting minutes, it could be a blogger conducting an interview. And check this out: It can take a loooong time to transcribe recordings and if you don't type that fast -- well, it can seem like you're typing for ages! A fifteen-minute interview might take you an hour to transcribe.
Okay, now that the preaching is over, let's get into which transcription companies will hire folks with little or no experience.
Transcribeme - According to Transcribeme, "We require transcribers to have a strong command of the English language, its syntactical and grammatical rules; to be able to recognize American English accents/speech; and, to have a decent typing speed." You don't need any special equipment but you will need a computer with Google Chrome and a reliable Internet connection. There's no minimum or maximum number of hours you can work and transcribers are paid $20 per audio hour. If you have legal and medical transcription experience, the pay is higher. Payment is made by Paypal and can be withdrawn weekly.
Verbal Ink - Verbal Ink transcribers transcribe a lot of different types of audio, including academic, business, interviews and various languages. They may not be hiring but your resume will be kept on file. If you have a great command of English grammar, super time management skills and a working knowledge of email and Microsoft Word, they want to hear from you. You'll also need specialized transcription software, a foot pedal and Quick Time or Windows Media Player to play back videos.
Rev - Rev has a pretty impressive client list, including Google, Uber, Comcast and PBS, to name a few. And just a quick check of current employees' LinkedIn profiles reveals that they do promote from within. All you need is a computer connection and a computer to get started. You get to choose your own hours and your own projects and pay is weekly by Paypal. If you need a little encouragement and coaching, they also provide regular feedback and the opportunity to collaborate with other team members. Choose either transcriptonist ($0.40 - $0.65 per audio minute) or captioner ($0.40 - $0.75 per video minute) to watch video and create timed captions to sync with the video.
Athreon - Athreon has legal, media and business-related projects for its team of U.S. based transcriptionists. They do require graduation from a transcription training program or two years of experience as a transcriptionist. You'll need a high-speed Internet connection and Windows (sorry, Mac users). Payment is sent out weekly by Paypal.
Let me stop here. Are you noticing that companies are using Paypal to pay contractors? If you don't have a Paypal account, sign up now. It's free to sign up and only takes a few minutes. When you do receive payments, please note that a small fee is deducted. You can either have the money stay in your Paypal account or you can transfer it to your bank account. I have a Paypal card that I can use to withdraw my funds as soon as a client pays. Super convenient!
Sorry for the interruption. Back to the transcription jobs. Oops, one more little thing. Don't call any of these companies to follow up on your application. They get loads of resumes every day and a phone call is only going to irritate them and even worse, kill any chances you have of getting hired. Don't get yourself in hot water before you even get started. Be patient and wait for them to contact you.
That's it. Really this time. Back to the list.
Transcript Divas - Fairly new on the scene, Transcript Divas has offices in New York, Toronto and London and offers projects in academic, legal and film and video. Although not spelled out, it does appear applicants need some type of experience. Get started here.
AccuTran - AccuTran's niche is the financial sector, stuff like stock earnings and analyst meetings. You can take a listen to the types of audio they transcribe (listen to a sample here). They don't guarantee full-time work because the work is pretty seasonal with peak times. You'll need excellent command of the English language, superb listening skills, excellent spelling and punctuation abilities, and an interest in current events and world affairs.
CrowdSurf - CrowdSurf uses Amazon Mechanical Turk as a platform for its transcription work. You will need an Amazon Mechanical Turk account to transcribe with them. You'll search through their Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) and find work that you want to do. Accept the job, do the work, submit it and get paid after the approver approves your work. This type of job is a good source for making extra money rather than income. You'll need a US bank account and a US address to get started.
Get Transcribed - You don't need prior transcription experience to get started with Get Transcribed but you do need: 60 wpm error-free typing speed, native English speaker, impeccable grammar and spelling, and a Paypal account to receive payments. There is a minimum payment threshold of $100, meaning you won't get paid until you've worked enough to make $100. Transcribers earn $0.25 per minute of audio.
Quicktate - If you get on with Quicktate, you can expect to transcribe voicemail messages, memos, letters, legal files, medical files, recordings of phone calls, conference calls and other audio files. Quicktate also audits, summarizes, evaluates and analyzes audio recordings and phone conversations. Some audio files, like voicemail messages, may average just 2-3 minutes and other recordings may be a lot longer, perhaps several hours. You'll need to take a typing test and undergo a background check.
1888TYPEITUP - You don't need experience but the higher audio rate suggests they would prefer experienced applicants over newbies. The pay rate is $0.60 to $2 per audio minute. From the website, "We completely understand the conundrum of needing experience to land a contract while needing to gain experience at the same time. After all, our first clients had to give us a chance too. As long as you can deliver good work and prove to be reliable while working from home, we are happy to work with you as one of our transcriptionists."
What equipment will I need?
There is an investment. I look at it like this -- anything worth having requires an investment. Before you go out and buy a bunch of stuff, I would highly recommend test-driving transcription to see if it's something you really want to do. Try listening to a podcast and transcribing a portion of the show. I hope it is something you want to do -- truly. But I also don't want to see you plunk down money unnecessarily.
Transcribing has come a long way when I started -- cassette tapes, typewriters and clunky foot pedals. Whoa, I definitely aged myself, didn't I? There's some fancy tools nowadays that make the job a whole lot easier. Let's take a look at a few:
When my grammar game is a bit funky, I've got my own personal English teacher in Grammarly. As you type, your mistakes are highlighted and you get suggestions on how to correct them. The Grammarly Chrome extension can be installed quickly and away you go!
You'll need a foot pedal and a headset. The foot pedal controls the software and it frees up your hands. Depending on what you need to do, you can stop, playback or rewind all while you keep typing. A foot pedal and a headset are definite musts! A few recommended items are below:
One more tip: since you'll be downloading LOTS of files as a transcriber, you'll need a really reliable computer with lots of memory. If you're a Mac user, definitely find out upfront if your system is compatible. Most companies have a frequently asked question page (FAQ) and that's a good place to check for what you'll need to work with them. You'll definitely need a stable Internet connection and the quieter the workspace, the better. If you have to keep listening over and over to the same sentence because you can't hear it, it will slow you down and you'll be losing money. Who wants that?
If you need to improve your typing or figure out how fast you type, try this free online typing course.
If you've hung with me this long reading this post and you're thinking, "Hey, I want to do transcription!" but feel like you need to learn a bit more, check out this self-paced FREE seven-day course.
Well, that's it. Good luck to you and check back to let me know if this was helpful to you.