Audio Transcription Jobs are one career path for those wanting to work from home.
Audio transcription is a simple activity. Have you ever watched Netflix with subtitles on? The subtitles were created by an audio transcriber. The job of an audio transcriber is to listen to a piece of audio and accurately type out what is said.
Sometimes a job requires that you type out the audio verbatim (exactly as said) while other times you can type up the general message (while still sticking close to what is being said).
Other times, you may be required to use timestamps to occasionally mark the approximate point in the audio for what you typed up.
Audio transcription sounds easy!
For some people, audio transcription may very well be easy. Some people just have the listening and typing skills to quickly get the job done. However, this is not the case for many. So, what does it really take to be great at this job?
In order to be great at this job, you must first and foremost have a good comprehension of the language you work with. For most, this would be a great understanding of the English language.
If you did well in your English classes, you probably have what it takes to write out the audio. Although…sometimes you have to interpret English with accents. Think British, Australian, or even Indian accents.
Next, you need a keen ear. Some of the transcription work you pick up might have poor quality audio. It’s unfortunate, but when you’re just starting out you probably won’t be getting the greatest audio leveling. Your audio might come across garbled or far too quiet. Work is work, though, and these jobs still need to get done.
With great English skills and a keen ear, all that’s really left is the ability to type. If you’ve spent a fair amount of time at the computer, you might have the skills necessary to quickly crank out paragraphs of text. The faster and more accurately you type, the higher potential you have to complete more jobs and get paid more.
Oh, one thing I can’t forget to mention is that you’re going to need patience. You will be repeating sections of audio over and over to get the text right. Few people can keep pace with the audio in one go. Keep this in mind ahead of time and it will help you from becoming demotivated.
Do you need any special equipment?
While you can start off with just a keyboard and speakers, there are a few pieces of equipment that can make your transcription life much easier. There are really three things you should consider when thinking about a transcription job: noise-cancelling headphones, a transcription pedal, and transcription software.
First, have you ever tried watching a movie in a busy room at a party? All of the distractions can easily make you lose track of the audio. That’s where noise-cancelling headphones come in. With these headphones, you minimize the effect of the noise around you making it much easier to hear even whispered words. You’ll want to be able to hear as much as possible and this is the tool for the job.
One cheaper set of headphones I recommend is the Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones. These headphones are a great starter set for the beginner transcriptionist. The sound isn’t the best, but you get what you pay for. To see reviews on Amazon, click here.
Next, a transcription pedal can really reduce the amount of time you spend transcribing. A transcription pedal gives you foot control over the playback of audio. You want to look for a 3-function foot pedal for better control to play, rewind, and fast forward the audio.
The Infinity USB Digital Foot Control (IN-USB2) is an affordable foot pedal to get you started in the transcription industry. It’s a 3-function pedal that works with most software that allows a pedal control. For Amazon reviews, click here.
Last, transcription software can really speed up the transcription process. If you decide to do transcription as a freelance job, you may decide to pick this kind of software up. The transcription software will transcribe audio you input into the system.
There is no perfect transcription software yet, so you would have to edit the text to match the audio file as best as you can still. Even so, it tremendously cuts down the time needed to transcribe most good quality audio.
One thing to keep in mind is that text files with multiple speakers or a lot of background noise may have trouble being transcribed by the software. Single-speaker files with low or no background noise are the best to use with the software.
For transcription software, I recommend Express Scribe Transcription Software. This software is easy to use, can load audio from many different sources, and has many features audio transcribers will find useful. Check out Amazon reviews here.
If you want to pick up the foot pedal and the transcription software together, there’s even a convenient bundle. Check out Express Scribe Pro Transcription Software with USB Foot Pedal on Amazon here.
Transcription equipment. Got it. Now what?
I guess all that’s left to cover is how to get the job. When you’re first starting out and want to test the waters, you can try doing little odd jobs on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. With Mechanical Turk, you take out small, usually very short jobs called HITs. These HITs are usually for very low pay, but the tasks are usually pretty easy. In audio transcription, you’ll probably end up with low-quality audio on MTurk.
Some HITs have certification requirements that you can meet by taking different tests. Each company that puts out the HITs may have different tests, but they may be worth completing to get access to the easier audio files. Some companies may even have jobs lined up for people that really take to the transcription business.
After getting the hang of transcribing audio, there are really two options outside of MTurk. You could decide to try and get a permanent part-time position with an audio transcription company or you could try to start as a freelance transcriber.
With permanent positions, you shouldn’t expect a steady schedule. If there is work available, great…but sometimes there are a lack of audio jobs for you. With freelance work, you get jobs based on your “resume”.
The description of the work you’re able to do is what will convince potential clients to contact you. It’s good to have a small portfolio on hand of small jobs you’ve done as an example for them to see your work.
When applying for a transcription job with a company, you will usually have to take a test where they give you a few minutes of audio to transcribe. You have to transcribe the audio with as few errors as possible.
These tests are the same for many people trying to sign up, so they have the text files on hand for each piece of audio. You might be able to retry the test immediately if you fail, but some companies require that a certain amount of time passes before you can try again.
You probably want to know how much you can expect to be paid for your transcription services, don’t you? Well, first you have to understand the pay system. You aren’t paid an hourly wage, but rather you are paid based on the number of audio hours you transcribe.
Some companies might start you off at .50 cents per audio minute and go up to $1 per audio minute or more. These are wages for general transcription, not for specialized transcription services like medical transcription or legal transcription (more on those in another post).
What are some transcription companies? TranscribeMe! has starting pay at $20 per audio hour. They pay more if you have a medical or legal background and qualify for those jobs. They also give you micro-tasks (1-2 minute clips) instead of giving you full hour-long audio clips.
Scribie starts you off between $5-$20 per audio hour. They have the chance for promotion to other jobs as well, such as reviewer, proofreader, and quality checker. Keep in mind, these are just starter transcription jobs and have pretty low pay but they give you the experience you need to get higher paying jobs at other companies.
But what about freelance work?
If you want to go the freelance route, there are a few options you can pursue. At Fiverr, you can set a $5 price for the number of audio minutes you’re willing to work for that little pay.
For instance, if you set $5 for 5 audio minutes, you will be paid for each portion of audio up to 5 minutes. A 13-minute clip would bring in $15 pay. Keep in mind that Fiverr takes a small cut of the profits for their service.
You also have a deadline that you can set a default on (for instance, 3-day turnaround). You have to complete the job within that amount of time, otherwise, the client can refund their payment and cancel the transaction.
There is also Upwork and Freelancer. With these sites, you set your own price on your profile. For example, you can say you want $60 an audio hour with a 30-minute minimum (meaning that no matter the length of the audio, you will be paid for 30-minutes time at least).
You can also bid on jobs that people post about. This could be a way to get steady work from the right people. If you do a great job, people are more inclined to come back.
And that’s that.
You’ve got your hands on the basics of general audio transcription. You know how to find the work and what equipment helps. Now, get out there and try your hand at audio transcription!
If you’re looking for an alternative work-from-home opportunity, I recommend checking out affiliate marketing. Wealthy Affiliate has a great program that teaches you everything you need to know about affiliate marketing. Check out my review of Wealthy Affiliate here.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to type them up in the comment box below. I love reading your responses!