Transcriber Job Description: Is a career in transcription worth it?


Did you know there’s a flexible and reliable way to make money from home? No, really – there is! By freelancing as a transcriptionist you choose how many hours you work, making it a great option for students or anyone looking to earn some extra money. This is a simple transcriber job description, to help you decide if a career in transcription is worth it for you.

What is transcribing?

Transcribing entails listening to recorded audio (or video) and typing what you hear word-for-word. The audio files are varied and can include focus groups for market research, interviews, meetings, phone calls, zoom calls etc.

There are different kinds of transcription jobs; general, market research transcription, medical transcription and legal transcription. Usually, no experience is required for general transcription. Instead, companies such as Take Note or TranscribeMe require transcribers to pass a test to ensure they meet their high standards.

For more specialised areas of transcription, such as medical transcription or legal transcription, experience or training is needed. However, medical transcriptionists and legal transcriptionists earn more money.

What skills does a transcriber need?

A successful transcriber has a range of skills, these include:

  • Strong attention to detail – remember, clients, are paying for a service. It needs to be typed up according to the transcription company’s style guidelines and without any mistakes.
  • Typing speed of at least 70 words per minute – search for free typing speed tests online to see how fast you can type.
  • Writing skills – a thorough understanding of all aspects of English language and grammar is crucial.
  • Discretion – you will be transcribing confidential audio, therefore a professional and discreet manner is essential. Take Note takes its client’s transcription data security very seriously.
  • Computer skills – as you’ll be working remotely or working from home, you need to be computer savvy and able to use different programmes and word processing software.
  • Listening skills – transcribers need to have the ability to listen carefully to audio recordings and interpret them appropriately.
  • Time management – deadlines are non-negotiable meaning transcribers must work quickly but efficiently.

Is transcription work right for me?

To help you ascertain if working for a transcription service is right for you here are the main pros and cons.


  • Flexible working hours that fit around your lifestyle
  • Opportunity for home-based work – who wouldn’t enjoy that?
  • Fun – for many people transcription work is enjoyable and provides a real sense of achievement


  • Difficult audio – sometimes the audio may be difficult to understand. That may be because it’s poor quality, contains heavy accents or there are people talking simultaneously.
  • Unknown terminology – extra time will have to be spent researching the correct spelling of unfamiliar terminology (medical terminology, business jargon, etc). In these situations, the transcription process will be longer and some may find it stressful.
  • Work might not always be available – as a self-employed freelancer, occasionally there may not be any work up for grabs.
  • Slow at the beginning – each transcription company has its own style guide which needs to be followed to a T. It can take a while to fully understand and feel confident using it but practice makes perfect.

Now the part of the transcriber job description you really want to know – what’s the pay like?

Let’s be realistic, you’re not going to become a millionaire through transcription work (sorry!) However, you will earn money without having to leave the comfort of home. Many people also use it as a side job to support them, for example, students or parents doing full-time child-care. With regular shifts, transcribers often make £1,500 per month.

Transcriptionists typically get paid per minute of audio and not per minute of your own time. That’s why a fast typing speed is important! At Take Note, the pay rate for verbatim transcription starts at £0.46 pence per minute of audio. This will increase depending on the number of speakers in the audio, how technical the terminology is or more complex formatting; the rates for post-production style transcripts (TV & Film transcription), start at £0.79 pence per minute of audio, and premium closed captions at £1.70 per minute.

It should take you no longer than three to four times the length of the audio to type a verbatim transcription, although it will inevitably take longer than this in the beginning. Don’t worry – this is completely normal. Once you are up to speed you should be able to earn upwards of £9.00 per hour of your time. Just be careful, as there are many transcription services that predominantly recruit from outside the UK, which means that their rates tend to be much lower. I’ve seen UK companies paying as little as £0.19 pence per minute… Also, don’t go near a company that requires you to commit to a fee in order to get on the books. there are plenty of reputable transcription services out there that will take you on if your typing speed, accuracy and grammar are of a good enough standard.

How do I get started?

All you need is a laptop or computer, high-speed internet, a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones and enthusiasm! Many also like to use a foot pedal.

Don’t forget, as a freelancer you will have to register as self-employed with HMRC.

You can also consider a number of transcription certificate programs that can help with recruitment, but it’s not essential.

Thereafter you will be assessed, tested and then trained on an individual basis to check and ensure that you have the necessary skills to join the team.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch and tell us a little about yourself and we will get back to you soon.

Thomas Carter