How to get a job as a transcriptionist – 4 steps

We often hear from people trying to get a job as a transcriptionist that it is very hard to break into without experience. But you cannot get experience until you get hired. A real Catch-22.


Why don’t transcription companies give new people a chance?

Often transcription services will not hire an inexperienced transcriptionist because it takes so long for people to learn the ropes and come up to speed. A common misconception is that transcription is just typing. This is not the case.

Transcription requires a greater set of skills than just the ability to type. For example, some of the projects may require listening to hours of focus group discussions, that are poorly recorded, identifying who is speaking,  inserting time codes, and googling the spelling of uncommon terms and acronyms. Projects such as this take patience, extreme attention to detail, on top of typing speed. It takes time to get used to transcription equipment such as foot pedals and software. It takes practice to build up both physical and mental stamina to type for 8 hours a day. The trick is to build this stamina slowly and gain experience and skills before applying with a Transcription Service. But how do you do gain experience? Well, here is a four step approach to landing a job we have come up with.


4 Steps to landing a job as a transcriptionist

  1. Do a Transcription training course. Although you probably don’t want to hear this … but… doing a course should be looked at as a first step. A medical transcription course will provide the basics all transcriptionists need to know. We do not have recommendations on courses but a good place to start asking is probably some of the more active transcription forums such as MT Stars.
  2. Start: One of the biggest hurdles with anything is to make a start.  Once you complete a course (or during) the next step will be to get as many hours of transcribing under your belt as possible. This work should be seen as your “apprenticeship”. What I suggest is starting off by working small contracts. Although often paying below minimum wage (!) sites like, or provide great insight and varied opportunities to flex your typing muscles and gain both stamina and experience.
  3. Build a Work History: Build your client base and reputation. Get references from clients.  Start with simple dictation, move to interviewsthento groups. Start going for larger and different jobs. Learn software, do video.
  4. Become the low risk/high performing option:  Finally, start approaching transcription services and companies and sell yourself as a “low-risk asset”. Nothing is more attractive to a transcription service than a person looking for work who is already doing the same job successfully somewhere else.  Prove that you can do the job and are successfully doing the job in your cover letter to an employee. Give examples, refer to clients. Be on time. Be accurate. Be available.


Someone who can show that they have built their own business and client lists shows that they can not only type – but they understand the business and what it takes to succeed.  Well rounded transcriptionists are a great asset to a service – don’t forget to include transcription jobs with us in your job hunt. Good luck!