What Does A Transcriber Do? (With Salary, Skills and FAQs)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Transcribers, or transcriptionists, listen to audio and write down what they hear. Many working professionals and freelancers work as part-time transcribers to earn extra money. Knowing more about the role and responsibilities of a transcriber can help you determine if you can also become one. In this article, we find out what a transcriber does, learn about their average salary and required skills, look at some industries that require transcription services and answer some frequently asked questions about the role.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

What Does A Transcriber Do?

To better answer the question, "What does a transcriber do?", it's beneficial to review the responsibilities of a transcriber, which may vary as per their specialisation and industry. But all transcribers typically perform the following duties:

Convert audio into text

Transcribers listen to audio files, generally recorded conversations, podcasts, verbal notes or other formats and convert them into written text. They typically get access to audio files to listen to the conversation and type out the spoken words. Specialised transcribers, like medical transcribers, may also require some basic knowledge of industry terms and concepts to transcribe better. The audio file can contain human conversations or automated digital recordings.

Follow client editorial and formatting guidelines

Transcribers usually have to do their job following strict rules of editing, grammar and syntax. They may also have to follow guidelines on how to format and present the text version. These guidelines generally include how to write words in a different language, information words, technical terms and abbreviations.

Use digital tools and software for transcription

There are many digital tools and software for speech recognition and transcription. Transcribers may have to use such software solutions to produce the text from audio files. In such a role, expertise in working on advanced tools, being adept at reviewing the accuracy of the output and correcting the grammar or syntax also becomes their responsibility.

Review accuracy

The role of a transcriber requires them to review their work or the output given by digital tools. Senior transcribers who head teams may not actively transcribe audio files and only supervise their team for accuracy. Ensuring the accuracy of text is one of the most important KPIs for transcribers, and they usually follow strict practices to maintain a high accuracy score.

Average Salary Of A Transcriber

The average salary of a transcriber is ₹19,207 per month. Please note that this figure can vary significantly based on your skills, experience and company. For instance, the average salary of a transcriptionist in Ashoknagar, Madhya Pradesh, is ₹34,672 per month. Similarly, with experience, the approximate average salary of a transcription manager can be ₹35,401 per month.

Related: How To Make Money Typing From Home: A Complete Guide

Industries That Require Transcription Services

There are many industries and business processes that require the services of transcribers, which can include:

  • Healthcare: Medical transcribers convert medical reports, patient meetings and other medical records from audio to text format. They also usually check for irregularities in records and are responsible for keeping records private and confidential.

  • Legal: Legal transcriptionists transcribe official documents, court hearings and other meeting records. They usually work under the supervision of a lawyer and may require fundamental knowledge of legal terms and concepts.

  • Digital content marketing: Many businesses transcribe videos, podcasts and other forms of audio content to improve the search engine optimisation of their websites by converting their content into text. Other businesses may use the services of transcribers to get text-based content from events and webinars to create blog content, social media content and e-books.

  • Customer service: Many customer-facing businesses record interactions between their representatives and customers. These interactions require transcription to analyse customer engagement and employee performance.

  • Entertainment: Providing captions for television shows, movies, videos, radio and other forms of entertainment also utilises the services of transcribers. In many countries, providing these captions is mandatory as per the law.

In addition to these industries, here are some other companies, processes and fields that may employ transcribers:

  • Corporate record keeping

  • Academia

  • Law enforcement record-keeping

  • Finance and insurance

  • Market research

  • Non-profit enterprises

  • Religious companies and boards

  • Research and development

Skills Of A Transcriber

Here are some skills that can help you succeed as a transcriber:

Listening skills

Transcriptionists require excellent active listening skills that allow them to understand the audio accurately. Often, the audio file may not be very clear, or the subjects of the conversation may be speaking in a foreign accent. This makes it essential for transcribers to listen to each word attentively and comprehend it for what it is.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition And Examples

Typing skills

In addition to having strong listening skills, transcribers benefit from fast typing skills. The ability to type quickly and accurately is essential for a transcriber, as it helps them write with minimal errors. You can take short-term courses to improve your typing speed and accuracy to enhance your performance as a transcriber.

Knowledge of editing tools and applications

Alongside speech recognition tools solutions, transcribers also require a strong knowledge of how to work on text processing and editing applications. Clients may also use internal applications or tools, which makes basic digital skills important as well. Knowing how to edit and format text as per client specifications and guidelines is also essential.

Related: Basic Computer Skills: Definition And Examples

Strong language and grammar skills

Transcribers can do their job well if they have strong language and grammar skills to enable higher accuracy. When transcribers understand the participants of the conversation, they can write it better. Additionally, strong language and grammar skills also help make corrections and review accuracy during the checking process.

Attention to detail

Transcribing audio files requires being attentive towards the spoken and the written word. Transcribers pay attention to what they hear and then write the text following the client guidelines. In many transcribing jobs, the spacing, punctuation, brackets and formatting of the text also determine accuracy, making attention to detail a critical skill.

Time management skills

It is crucial to have excellent time management skills while transcribing audio. This is because most freelance and part-time projects pay per minute, or another unit of time, of the audio and not the actual time that goes into transcribing it. For instance, if you take three minutes to transcribe an audio file of one minute, usually, only one minute is chargeable to the client. This makes time management critical to ensure high levels of accuracy alongside a fast speed.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition And Examples

FAQs About The Transcribing

Here are some common questions regarding transcription and transcribers:

Is it better to do a full-time or part-time transcription job?

Full-time employment opportunities for transcribers tend to be rare as only a few specialised companies hire them. In most cases, professionals from related communication fields like writing, marketing and academics take up part-time and freelance projects. For many freelancers, transcribing is a way to earn additional money. Full-time jobs may be available with lawyers, streaming platforms, news channels or medical institutes that require ongoing transcription services. Freelance transcription jobs generally provide more flexibility and offer remote work options.

Where can you find transcribing jobs?

Many online job search portals and freelancing platforms have job opportunities for transcription projects. Most of these opportunities are part-time or offer a limited-time engagement. You can also specifically look for work-from-home job opportunities. Many such projects and opportunities also welcome freshers with no prior transcribing experience. Be careful while approaching agents or lesser-known companies and be sure to research their credibility because many scammers target vulnerable people looking for transcription jobs.

What equipment and devices are necessary to start transcribing?

To begin with, all you typically require is a computer or laptop and a stable internet connection. While a pair of good quality headphones can help improve your performance, they are not necessary to start working. Most clients who hire transcribers provide access to audio files in a particular extension and expect the text in a specific format. Before you take a project, make sure that all the formats are compatible with your device so that you do not face any technical challenges.

How can you improve your transcribing skills?

You can enhance your transcribing skills by improving your listening, typing and language skills. You can start timing your tasks to ensure that you complete them within a specified limit and increase your speed. Similarly, you can purchase tools and software to increase your speed, improve accuracy, and remove grammatical errors from the written text. Learning about different style guides and formats, like the AP, Chicago, APA, MLA, BB, AMA and NYT, can also be beneficial.

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