Everything you need to know to become a home-based transcriptionist!
Looking for a way to start working from home but unsure how to start? Or maybe you’re looking for a side hustle that doesn’t involve working with the public? Motivated individuals often turn to driving for Uber or making deliveries for DoorDash, but that isn’t a good fit for everyone. Transcribing can be a great way to transition to working from home for students, busy parents, and even retirees looking to supplement their income. Many companies hire independent contractors to turn audio files into typed documents. These positions are usually flexible and allow you to type when it’s convenient for you, as long as you submit work in a timely fashion. Let’s take a look at who is best suited for home-based transcription work, equipment needed, how to ace you transcription test, all while avoiding scams.
What skills do I need to transcribe from home?
There are specific skills you’ll need to successfully transcribe from home. First, and most obviously, you’ll need to be a fast and accurate typist. If it’s been a while since you’ve typed, take a speed test to see where you stand in terms of speed and accuracy. A keen eye for detail is essential to spot your errors so you can be your own editor. Practice, practice, practice to get your skills built up to their best possible potential!
Many times, audio files will have background noise, multiple speakers with overlapping conversation, or speakers with heavy accents. Being able to discern as much of what is being said as possible is essential. “Train” your ears to pick up on how to filter out these challenges in a technical way: the next time you’re watching the news, a movie, or BBC, think of how you would handle transcribing the audio. Companies like Rev offer free training and will start with basic files to get you started, then working up to more challenging audio clips.
Do I need expensive equipment?
This depends largely on requirements of the company you are applying for, but the broad answer for this is no. I’ll use Rev as an example again simply because they have minimal start up requirements and low commitment for those of us just wanting to try out the field. Here’s an idea of what it would take to get started with a company like Rev, as well as extra equipment for those looking for more long-term projects:
• A computer with Windows operating system. Doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest, but reliable and dependable. Some companies may also be Mac compatible, but most require Windows.
• High-speed internet. Most companies will send you audio clips and files via the internet, so a solid internet connection is a must. If your connection is slow and unstable, you could experience reduced playback quality, thus making your job more difficult.
• Headphones. Good headphones will make your life easier when listening to audio clips for transcribing. They don’t need to be top of the line, but decent quality will go a long way.
• Software (optional) Rev doesn’t require the use of paid software, but some companies do require at least the free version of ExpressScribe.
• Foot pedal (optional) Rev also doesn’t require use of a foot pedal, but instead uses keyboard commands and shortcuts for stopping and starting audio playback and to adjust speed as needed. You can often find used and refurbished foot pedals online if you aren’t ready to commit to the expense of a brand new one.
I’m new to this. Who hires beginners?
If you’re a newbie that wants to gain experience before applying for a full-time transcription job, there are several great options. As I’ve mentioned several times previously, Rev.com is a good starting point for free training and to test the waters to see if a career in transcription is right for you. Other options, such as mTurk and Appen, can be good starting points as a freelancer, too. For more details on six different beginner-friendly transcription companies, check out my article “Transcription Jobs for Beginners”. You’ll find details on what to expect when working for these companies, how to apply, and general payment information.
Any tips on how to pass my transcription test?
• Practice. I’m a broken record, but I can’t stress this enough: practice, practice, practice! The more typing you do, the faster and more accurate you will become. It takes everyone a little time to get their skills built up, but it’s well worth the effort. Ready for your expertise and confidence to grow? Try ExpressScribe’s free transcription practice files in the link here.
• Review spelling and grammar. Maybe it’s been a while since you were in school and some of those grammar rules have slipped away. Trust me, I can totally relate! But, the less time you spend waffling back and forth over comma placement or how to spell relatively common terms, the more time you can spend on your test. Since all transcription tests are timed, you want to be able to complete it as quickly as you possibly can with as few mistakes as possible. Having basic spelling and grammar under your belt will speed things up considerably.
• Get familiar with the Style Guide. Regardless of which company you’re applying to, thoroughly review their Style Guide. Different companies may have slight variations on how they handle certain scenarios even though basic grammar and spelling will be consistent from one job to the next. This is especially true once you branch out of general transcription and into more specialized areas, such as medical and legal transcription.
One last piece of advice: how to avoid scams
You know the old adage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”? That should ring true in jobs, too, especially working from home in data entry and transcription. There’s an abundance of scammers looking for vulnerable individuals. Any transcription job that promises pay that’s too good to be true is likely a shady operation. Do your due diligence and research the company. Are there plenty of reviews? Are there tons of complaints that work was done and payment never received? Or so many over-the-top glowing positive reviews that it seems suspicious (and likely the reviews are fakes)? See what the complaints are and if they seem valid.
There are many “training programs” that promise jobs after paying exorbitant fees for their tuition and software. Once training is complete, there isn’t any actual job offers or placement assistance. Again, check online reviews and with the Better Business Bureau to see what complaints have been filed against these training schools. After scanning reviews, it’s pretty easy to decide if complaints are just sour grapes or if they are actually ripping people off.
Avoid any transcription companies that ask for upfront fees to save you a position on their team. This is not typical in most legitimate transcription jobs. And, finally, even after you apply, check and double check the emails you receive from the companies that you’re applying to. If the email address doesn’t seem to match the company or if something about it seems fishy, reach out to the company directly to verify their correspondence. And definitely do not open any suspicious emails or provide any sensitive personal or financial information to a questionable sender.