Top Tips for Becoming an Amazing Transcriptionist

Top Tips for Becoming an Amazing Transcriptionist

If you’re thinking about becoming a transcriptionist – congrats on your great idea! This business gives you flexibility to work when and where you want, the ability to work in different sectors, and a better understanding of grammar and typing.

At Atomic Scribe, we absolutely love our transcriptionists, and we truly believe they are the best in the business. We also believe that a company can be a great help for molding transcriptionists into being the best workers they can be.

Here are some of our tips for how to start your journey to become a top transcriptionist.

1. Find the right tools

To get started in transcription, you’ll need a few tools. The first is, of course, a working computer. It can be a desktop or a laptop, but you need to be able to listen to audio or video on it. Some transcription companies require Windows to work with their software, but at Atomic Scribe we allow any operating system.

Next, a good pair of headphones is key. You’ll sometimes need to be able to transcribe difficult audio, and good headphones can go a long way for deciphering otherwise unintelligible dialogue.

For transcription software, we recommend ExpressScribe, which is free. Most transcriptionists also use foot pedals to play, rewind and fast forward audio with ease, though it is optional. Additionally, most companies require Word documents for transcripts, so a Microsoft Word subscription may be necessary and is good to have regardless.

According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average words spoken in the U.S. is about 150 words per minute. The average typing speed is 40-50 words per minute.

2. Practice makes perfect

If you’re a beginner, chances are you don’t have much experience with transcribing. But don’t let that deter you! The best way to get better is by practicing. We recommend Googling to find free audio online that you can download.

For example, Real English Conversations has downloadable audio, as well as transcripts you can use afterwards to see how well you captured the content. As you go, find other audio that’s more difficult to challenge yourself. Most audio is not perfect, so it’s best to be prepared for difficult audio as well.

Also, when you apply to a transcription company, you will likely have to take a transcription test with sample audio. Practicing beforehand is a good way to ensure that your equipment is working properly, that you can format a document correctly, and that the amount of time you are spending transcribing is worth your time. Remember as a benchmark: it takes a transcriptionist an average of 1 hour to complete 15 minutes of good audio.

“We work with companies and individuals in the legal, entertainment, market research, police, government, radio, church, and other fields to make their content easily accessible to all.”

“We work with companies and individuals in the legal, entertainment, market research, police, government, radio, church, and other fields to make their content easily accessible to all.”

3. Google is your friend

In most transcripts, there are going to be words and phrases you’re unfamiliar with. For example, a speaker could mention a small town in a different country that you’ve never been to, or the name of a doctor. Research is a key part of being a transcriptionist, and it can be quite a fun one, too!

Make sure to read up on tips for how to use Google efficiently. Knowing the tricks to use can save you so much time, and your ability to work out difficult places and names will surely impress clients.

4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes

Transcription is really difficult, and every transcription company has their own formats and standards. So when you do start working with a company and you receive feedback, embrace it and move on. Don’t dwell too much on mistakes, except in regards to learning from the errors so that your next transcript is even better.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, we had a project recently that had multiple names of towns that transcriptionists had a hard time finding online. So, when we were told of the issue, we sent word to the client and received a list of town names back. That’s something we are so happy our transcriptionists made us aware of so that we could find a solution. Remember that it never hurts to ask, and you and your transcription company are a team.

83.4%: Women total % of workforce
39%: Bachelor's degree holders
100%: In 2021 female transcriptionists earned 100% of what men earned

Source: Zippia


Transcription is a wonderful business. It allows accessibility for those who cannot or choose not to listen to audio and video. With such content growing every year on the internet, there are more things than ever that need transcribing, and you can help!

If you’d like to work with Atomic Scribe, check our careers page for any openings, or send us your resume. We hope you’ll love this industry as much as we do.

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    Atomic Scribe

    Atomic Scribe provides high-quality language services for all markets and sectors. Human-powered. Professional. Personal.

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