How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist


Medical transcriptionists perform professional duties to cater to healthcare experts’ needs, the most important of which is converting physicians’ or doctors’ voice recordings into organized written reports. Because doctors and other healthcare professionals are often incredibly overworked, they tend not to have time to transcribe their own recorded notes and reports. Medical transcriptionists provide this service in an efficient, accurate, and timely manner so that the physician can review his or her notes without constantly having to search through a cassette or digital voice recording.

As the demand for this service increases, so does the number of students enrolling into transcription programs. Aside from being insightful work, it also offers a unique earning potential, particularly for those with children, disabilities, or other issues which prevent them from working outside the home; after training and certification, many students successfully begin freelance transcription services from a home office. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, keep reading to find out how you can make this dream a reality.

Job Duties

Medical transcriptionists listen to health professionals’ and physicians’ voice recordings in order to convert them into hand-written (or more commonly, typed) reports. The main purpose of this task is to make a permanent patient file to avoid future problems or conflicts in diagnosing or treating them. These practitioners are highly skilled in interpreting medical terms and abbreviations, both skills which help them to write any document, report, or summary of patients and their medical histories. During their work, they have to convert the spoken language into referral letters, reports, and diagnostic test results, when then need to be submitted back to the physician who originally recorded the file.As a result, they must be familiar with subjects related to pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, anatomy, and medical terminology. Sometimes transcriptionists have to translate abbreviations into long form sentences to ensure accuracy and clarity. They also must follow strict guidelines to ensure patient confidentiality.

Transcriptionists use audio playback equipment including a headset and a foot pedal connected to the computer. Specialized word processing software allows them to create, edit, and format documents for added ease of use and readability.

If they work in an office or run an independent transcription service, transcriptionists may perform other general duties such as answering phones and greeting patients.

Regardless of whether they work from home or in a traditional office setting, medical transcriptionists are an important part of a patient’s healthcare team.

Career Outlook

Professionals of this field work in a variety of settings like physicians’ offices, medical and surgical hospitals, business support services, diagnostic laboratories,corporate management. According to a 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, there were around 76,570 people employed as medical transcriptionists in the United States. Technological advancement has played a large role in increasing this figure, as there has been a great influx of practitioners in this area, with more opportunities expected to arise over the next several years.


In May 2011, theBureau of Labor Statistics reported an average yearly salary of $34,050 for trained medical transcriptionists. The highest paying positions are in specialty hospitals, where earnings are recorded at $38,030 annually.

Education Requirements

To enter this field, candidates must have at least a high school level education. Additional post-secondary training is usually required as well, whether it’s from a community, college, or vocational school. One might also choose to attain an associate’s degree with an emphasis on courses in English grammar, anatomy, and medical terminology; along with supervised on-the-job training, they will make promising candidates for any transcription opening.

If one enters this field with existing relevant skills and knowledge of medical terms, one might enhance those skills through relevant training and specialized courses. Certification isn’t required in many states, but for those who would prefer to be certified, they may do so through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.

$_SESSION['title'] = "Featured Degree Programs";
$_SESSION['campusType'] = "BOTH";
$_SESSION['degreeOfInterest'] = "";

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.