Transcription Work: Tools and Skills Needed + Where to Find Jobs!

Last updated on July 11, 2020

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Transcription work. Is it available? What are the opportunities? What do I need to become a great transcriber?  

I asked myself the same questions back in 2012. I then stopped asking myself and decided to ask Google. I Googled the term transcription and  came up with this, from Wikipedia:

“Transcription is the first step of gene expression, in which a particular segment of DNA is copied into RNA by the enzyme, RNA polymerase. Both RNA and DNA …blah, blah, blah

I thought no way! This can’t be what I’m looking for. Well, let me ask you this? Do you have good English skills?  Do you have a typing speed of at least 40 wpm?

Do you know the difference between stationery and stationary, precedent and president, too and two? Last but not least, do you love to learn new things? You just might be the best person for transcription.

Transcription work is all about converting audio to written text. As simple as that.

All you do is listen to an audio or video file and type out its contents. Transcription services are usually provided for business, legal, or medical purposes.

Is there a market for transcription services? Yes. 

Let me give you an example. Pastors need transcription services so that their sermons can reach more people.

When their sermons are transcribed, the transcripts can be put up on the sites and more people are able to access the mesage. Podcasters need transcription services too.

At the moment, search engine bots are not able to crawl audio, and having a transcript helps the search engines understand what the podcast is about.

The same goes for people who record YouTube videos. They can have the videos transcribed and from the transcripts, subtitles can be created. 

Brief History of Transcription

Before the introduction of the Dictaphone, transcription was a very difficult job. Back in the 1970’s secretaries would write down the speech as they heard it by using skills such as shorthand.

It was a necessity to be at the location where the service was required. But since the advent of the mp3 based Dictaphone – a software that is used to record sound – transcription work has become much easier.

Once a person has made the recording, it is then uploaded to a PC and emailed to someone to transcribe. The person who does the transcription, thanks to the internet nowadays, can be thousands of miles away, in fact maybe in another continent.

The completed document  – the transcript – is then emailed back and printed out or whatever the client chooses to do with it.  All this can be done in a matter of hours. Oh, thank God for technology!!

Important Skills

Great English Skills

A transcriptionist must possess an excellent command of the English language.  You must have the ability to recognize and differentiate words.

As I stated before, words such as their/there or complement/compliment for example, which are called homophones, can completely change the meaning of the transcript when used incorrectly.

You need to be a linguist, a language professional, one who is familiar with the English language and speech.

Punctuation too, is key. Do you know when to use hyphens? Is it full time or full-time? Low income or low-income? Is it ebook or eBook?

Clients want to hire a transcriber who pays attention to detail, because they do not want to hire someone else to do the editing work.

The final document should read well and make sense to the reader.

Active Listening

If you want to do transcription work, you will need to have excellent listening skills. Each word needs to be heard and typed correctly. Your goal as a transcriptionist is to type as fast as you can with very few errors.

An accuracy rate of 98 to 99% is recommended.

Your good listening skills will come in handy when you encounter speakers who are either nearly inaudible, speaking with a heavy accent, speaking over each other, or when there is background noise in the audio.

Extensive Research

Google is your friend. You will come across names of streets, towns, and countries and it will be imperative that you research those terms to limit the number of “inaudible” words in your transcript.

Researching those words also helps to ensure that they are correctly spelled.

In my experience, LinkedIn also comes in handy when you are researching people’s designations and names.

I must add that the more knowledgeable and well-read a transcriber is, the more words that will be recognized in a recording.

But research is a common and necessary component of a high-quality transcript. 

Typing Skills

via GIPHY

Need I say more? A comfortable speed of about 40 wpm and above is needed for you to work as a transcriber.

If your typing speed is 60 wpm and above, you are in a really good place. There are clients who need rush jobs, and if you type fast, that will be a plus.

IMPORTANT TOOLS

Starting your transcription business takes very little setup. These are the requisite tools:

Laptop or Desktop

You can purchase a desktop or a laptop. I prefer laptops because I can move around, from my living room to my bedroom. I can even go to the mall when I get tired of staying in the house.

You don’t have to purchase a top-of-the-range laptop. I started out with a basic computer, which served me well, until I was able to purchase a better brand. 

Headphones

Good quality headphones are a must if you want to do transcription work.

This is helpful and vital equipment through which you will hear the audio. You need to hear the speakers well for the final output/ transcript.

And they also need to be comfortable considering you will be wearing them for hours. Buy good quality headphones that will serve you for long.

Express Scribe

Transcribing audio or video files can be tedious work, especially when you receive long audio files.

Typically, it takes me three to five hours to transcribe a 60-minute file, and it can take a newbie much longer.

Thankfully, there is software that helps with that. 

Express Scribe is a popular software used for transcription work around the world.  There is a free version and a paid version.

With the free version, you can load MP3 files, and WAV files but you cannot load videos. That function is only available on the paid version.

Here’s how Express Scribe works. A transcriber loads an audio file to Express Scribe. The transcriber then uses the hot keys to transcribe the file, the hot keys being F4,F7, F8 etc.

That helps the transcriber to be more productive, and to transcribe faster – much faster than if they were typing the audio while listening to it via Windows Media Player. 

Good Internet Connection

This is the lifeblood of our business.

You need a reliable internet connection to download audio files.

Sometimes you will need to download large files, upto 300-400 mbs. .mov files are usually huge and this is where having a reliable and fast internet connection comes in handy. 

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Conclusion

I have had some funny moments transcribing.

From those clients who make jokes and leave me unable to type for about five minutes because what they said was so funny, to those who want to blast my ear drums every few minutes by coughing like crazy.

I’ve had moments when I’ve had to reach for a Kleenex too. Such is the transcriber’s life. Quite interesting.

Where To Find Transcription Jobs

As I said before, there is a market for transcription services. Don’t waste any more time. Get some training (because transcription involves much more than ‘just typing’) and then sign up!

All the best in your transcription career!

About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • […] Transcription: Transcription is basically the conversion of audio to text. The client will send you an audio or a video file. You will need to listen to it and type it out. Once you are through, you send the transcript back to the client as a Word document. The client will then pay you also via the freelancing sites. The pay ranges from $25 to $50 depending on the quality of the audio and the length of the audio. A good typing speed, coupled with great English and research skills is what you need for this. It’s a great way to earn and work online in Kenya. Learn more about transcription in this article. […]

    • Sure Harriet. Feel free to contact me anytime 🙂 I’ll give you more info and also you can get my training which has lots more information that will help you get your feet wet in this business.

    • Hi Lucy,
      You can always start your own blog and market it aggresively. You will be marketing your services that way. At the end of the day, making money online is simple but not necessarily easy.

    • I’m glad you find it informative Purity. I offer training for those who are ready to venture into this. Please head over to my training category where you will find more information on what this is all about. I have also emailed you my number in case you want to call me.

  • Hi i am from the UK and currently living in Nairobi, looking for home based work as I am a mother of two. I am fluent in English and my typing skills are perfect. please let me know how i can get started. Thank you

    • Hi Mehnaz, Thanks for your interest. I’m basically talking about online freelancing where you sell your skills to potential clients online, via freelancing sites such as Elance, oDesk, Freelance, Fiverr etc. You’ll need to sign up with several of this sites which is absolutely free, build your profile and start sending out proposals for the jobs you are interested in. I offer training on that as well as transcription training. Let me know if you need more information.

    • Hi Ann,

      You don’t need a blog to market yourself in the beginning. Maybe later. For starters, a computer, good internet connection and good headphones is what you need. Next, you can sign up with the freelancing sites I have mentioned. There are numerous clients who need transcription services. However, transcription isn’t just typing and that is where my training comes in. Feel free to read the post here http://www.workonlinekenya.com/transcription-training/ and if you need clarity let me know.

  • Hi sheeroh,kindly email me as well about the ecourse though I would love to meet you and hopefully work with/for you in future. Thanks in advance.

  • Hi,
    i’m currently working as a transcriptionist during the day but i was wondering if you could hook me up with some part time work to do at night. if you cant hook me up i will be happy if you could just give a list of websites that i could visit to do so. thanks.

    • Hi Fatma, You can check out Voxtab, scribie.com, Rev.com, Elance, odesk, freelancer and fiverr.com. Hope that helps. 🙂

  • Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at. Seo Plugin

  • thanks for enlightening me..if I may ask how is one paid.do I have to open an account..I will come back to you after visiting the sites mentioned above. thanks madam

    • Hi Shelmith. When dealing with the freelancing sites, you’ll be paid on the same sites and then you will choose how to withdraw your money. You can withdraw via paypal or via payoneer card. Learn more about the Payoneer Card here which is a must for Kenyan freelancers.

  • Hey girl, just read this. Am actually interested in online jobs ( story za scams lakini) to enable me work from home in addition to my fb page serene fashion house. Let me read the training you have I hope I get help.

    • Hi Zuhrah, You are a perfect candidate for transcription. I already know you have great English skills and I’m sure your typing speed is up to par too. Sure, please read the Training post and if you need to know more, contact me.

  • Hi Sheeroh Kiarie, thanks for the good work that you are doing. You are indeed a Kenyan for Kenyans.
    I am interested to learn more about transcription. I have a good command of English Please let me know what i should do to proceed.

  • a very interesting post. I have worked as a transcriber for almost 2 years now, earning at least $100 per week for only about 4 hours work a day.

    This is a great way to start out as a freelancer. When coupled with my other job as an article writer, I earn enough to take care of all my needs and I get to spend time with my daughter too 🙂

    For those who are interested, http://www.transcribeme.com is a great place to get started.

    • Don’t you just love the flexibility? That’s one of the pros of freelancing. Yes, Transcribeme is a very good place to start. And they are getting more and more jobs unlike before. We hope to see more ‘Transcribeme’s and Rev’s’ in the future.

    • Hi Tecla! Thanks for your interest. The lessons are online and comprise of 10 lessons that run over six days. Once you’re ready with the 999 payment, let me know so that I can send you the number to send. Cheers.

    • Hi Marvin, There are plenty of opportunities on odesk, elance, freelancer, and fiverr.com. Just sign up for a free account, build your profile and bid for jobs. Also, a company called Scribie and TranscribeMe. You can start there. Hope that helps!

    • Hi Marleen. Sorry for that. Have you tried working on freelancing sites such as Odesk, Elance and Fiverr?

    • Hi Emily, Thanks for your interest. The fee for the training is 999. Once you’re ready with that, please let me know and we can proceed.

    • I’m glad you found the article informative William. Yes, ,please get in touch with me and I’ll let you know about payments.

    • Hi Dolly, Thanks for your interest. You can find transcription jobs on Odesk, Elance, freelancer.com and fiverr.com too. If you need more info, feel free to get in touch with me.

    • Hi Stephen. Once you’re ready with the 999, please let me know and I’ll send you my number so that you can pay the training fee via Mpesa.

  • Hi Sheeroh Kiarie,
    My name is Rency and am really interested in transcription and internet writing.I would like to know more about this and get to know the genuine sites i can visit for transcription jobs.
    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Rency, For transcription, you can visit TranscribeMe, Speechpad, Casting Words and sites such as Odesk, Elance etc. Ensure that before you take any paid job, you have done thorough research about transcription or you have taken my training.

  • Hi sheeroh, I am very much interested in transcription work and am very good in English,it was my favourite subject so if need arises you can email some work I will appreciate working with you.

  • hi Sheeroh. I have been doing transcriptions for quite some but on the normal platform Microsoft word. currently am free . i have not tried this one. kindly help me wit any guidelines and anything else that i should know. i would like to be part of your team. thank you

  • This is so informative. I wish i would have learned about it a little earlier but I want to believe I am not not late thou. Am very interested in this and looking forward for more info on the same like training.

  • Hey gal, for a very long time now I have been interested in online jobs ranging from data entry, transcription to writing.I am so lucky to have finally stumbled upon your blog.I am well educated and willing to use my skills to earn from online jobs.Kindly guide and advice me.
    Thanx

  • Hi Sheero,
    I have been searching for online jobs until i came across your site which is so informative that i need not to search further.I’m interested in online transcription job and will contact you soon for training.Thanks.

    • Hi Joyce. I train at a fee of 999 bob. In my ecourse I have links to where you can get legitimate transcription jobs. The good thing with transcription is it doesn’t have low or high seasons.

    • Hi Scholar. The materials are a computer or laptop, and internet connection. If you’ll be working as a transcriber, you’ll also need headphones.

  • Hi Sheeroh, nice to know about your training. Can you please specify to me the best headphones for transcribing, I have the rest of the requirements. I am very interested to know transcribing and soon I will contact you. Thank you for being of much help, you are great. God bless.

    • Hi Serah. Just get headphones that are noise cancellation, ie the ones that have padded ears. They tend to block out background noise. You are very welcome!

  • hello, my name is sharlene and i would like to start doing some transcription work to make some extra money,please refer me to a site in Kenya. Thank you

  • Sheeroh are you still in this line of business? I would very much like guidance on how to start. my typing speed is 50WPM and have a blog on the side. any help will be appreciated.

  • I would like to recommend Sheeroh to anyone looking to get into the world of Transcription. I signed on for her ecourse a week ago, and the knowledge I’ve gained in that short period I could not have gotten by myself. I recommend the lessons to anyone looking to do this seriously, part-time or fulltime. It will be the best spent 999 bob of your life!

  • Hi Sheeroh. I love your web and the transcription work sounds awesome. Are there any other jobs. Am a stay at home since Dec 2014 and am sourcing for online work at home jobs. Got a computer and uses modem for internet accesss. What i need now is the pair of earphone and the training. What about that?

    • You have the tools Beatrice. That’s good. I’m available to train you. I train online via email at a fee of 999 bob. When you’re ready, please mpesa the fee to 0722896756

  • I would love to go through your lessons and start transcription work. Its clear how you’ve been a goddess to many. ☺️

    • Lol! It’s my pleasure to impact and add value to people’s lives. My ecourse runs for six days and comprises of 10 easy to follow lessons. Payment is via mpesa to 0722896756.

  • I need to start training,I have been doing research on transcription online and there is alot of information and no clear guidelines on where to start . Your blogs have been very helpful in providing meaningful Information.looking foward to have you as a mentor

  • I have truly enjoyed the informative read..Have learnt so much and helped me to know so much about the online working.I truly would love to get into it and earn some more cash as well as learn more.

  • Quite informative. Thank you Sheeroh, as a mum to a child with cerebral palsy and a need to look after her personally , I have surely stumbled on something right for me as I am good in typing and have been transcribing for my current boss for many years. Will get in touch soon for the training. Keep it up!

    • You are most welcome Josephine. This is a great opportunity that will enable you to work from home as well as earn a decent income.

  • Hi Cheeroh,
    I have been reading your posts about transcription a million times. I really feel interested in this line though a bit limited by the gadgets required. Am hoping to raise enough funds for them soon. How much is the course? Do you give transcription jobs yourself?

    • The ecourse is 999 bob Isabel. I outsource jobs from time to time to my team. But I require client ready transcripts 🙂

  • Hello Sheroh. My name is Sharon from Uganda. I am interested in working as an online freelance typist. I have very good typing skills having been typing since the age of 15. I pay attention to detail and accuracy. I work within given deadlines. I have my own PC and steady Internet connection. I am available to start work immediately. I work with honesty, am self-motivated and follow direction. My typing speed is 47WPM.

    • Hello Sharon. Thanks for your interest. Let me encourage you to sign up with the relevant sites ie. TranscribeMe, Casting Words, Scribie and Upwork.com

  • Nice piece of info there sherroh. Ikechuwu is my name. I am interested in transcribing and want to know if I need to own a blog before getting started?

    • Hello Ikechukwu. No, you don’t need to own a blog, though it’s not a bad idea to create one for your freelance transcription services. It will help you get direct clients. In the meantime, there are plenty of transcription jobs on transcription sites such as Transcribeme, Speechpad, GoTranscript and on bidding sites like Upwork.

    • Hi. I focus on transcription. Good data entry jobs are few and far in between. But you can check Upwork.com for such jobs.

  • Good information. I would love to start beginning next month. I will send you the amount for training. Hoping to get more guidance from you. Kindly, advise on how to send the amount. Thanks

  • Hi Sheeroh,

    I’m interested in the training and wish to know how long each lesson takes. I intend to do the transcription part-time in the evenings as a side hustle. I already have the necessary equipment. Kindly guide on this.

    • Hello Lilian. Thanks for your interest. Each lesson takes approximately 20 minutes. It’s also very flexible and therefore, you can do this part-time without any pressure.

  • Hi Sheeroh. Was in the KCB Karen group last week and it revitalized my resolve to make money online doing what I know best, writing and reading. I was a bit self conscious of my English, but Ive seen errors on your page, so no one is perfect and I will work hard to make money and promote online work to the youth in Voi.

    • Hello Jeniffer, You can start by registering on sites such as TranscribeMe, Gotranscript, Upwork,and Fiverr. Some of these sites require you to take a test and if you pass, you’ll be able to access live jobs.

    • Hi,
      From the articles I have read, like today in the Nation paper, you only talk of the youth! My question is, can somebody above 30 yrs become a transcriber and if so, how will that person improve his or her English?

      • Anyone who has the skills can become a transcriber. You can improve your English via the free resources on Google or take a course on Udemy.com – an online learning platform.

  • Hi Sheeroh
    I came across freelance this year but never understood it well.
    I’m a student at university level and as I was going through a certain Daily Nation newspaper, I came across your encouraging story. It motivated me a lot. I
    have been looking for many ways on how to be a content writer and a transcriber. Sheeroh, may you please aid me in this if you don’t mind?

    • Happy to help you with tips Collins. I’ve shared a couple of things about freelance transcription on this blog so feel free to browse some more. Also, reach out to the guys I’ve recommended above, for training.

  • I have shared a few things about independent interpretation on this blog so don’t hesitate to peruse some more. Likewise, connect with the folks I’ve suggested above, for preparing.

  • I have gone through the blog and the comments too. I am so grateful for your generosity and just ready to begin. I have a long-term online project of eBook writing and have just been wondering what to do on the side. Let me check into the sites you have provided and start learning straight away. I would be glad if you wouldn’t mind occasional queries just in case I get stuck. Many blessings.

  • Very informative as usual. I really admire your consistency, grasp of the online ecosystem and command of English language. I will be taking your ecourse soon. From your experience what kind of internet connection should I invest in?

    • Hey Benedict,

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I use Zuku, the 20 mbps package. Love it! I’ve been their customer for years. I hear Jamii Telcom is great too.

    • Hey Nipun. That’s a great typing speed. In addition to that, good listening and English skills will come in handy. You can check Transcribeme and Gotranscript for transcription jobs.

      • Hi Sherooh. My name is zama Khan. Kindly help me in learning transcription. Conrad of Uganda referred your name. I need your advice.

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