Investing in an online transcription course is the best way to learn the skills and gain the knowledge needed for a new professional transcriptionist career. For people who want to boost their earnings and improve their job prospects working online, transcription is a good skill to have.
Transcription is the transformation of audio recordings into a written text format. This information is then used in a wide variety of ways, such as medical data, court documents, and more. This is an easy skill to learn, but it’s hard to master and this means that experienced transcriptionists are in high demand.
The best way to learn transcription is to take an online class where you can work at your own pace and schedule. There are many transcription courses to choose from and it can be hard to make an informed choice. In this article, we’ve reviewed and ranked eight of the best transcription courses available right now to help you brush up on your skills or to start as a complete beginner.
The Transcription Basics
A transcriptionist listens to audio files where one or more people are talking and then types that information into a written format. At the basic level, it really is that simple. Some people may be wondering if there is even a market for this skill. It sounds so easy that anyone should be able to do this, but there is a catch. It can take a long time to transcribe an audio file; you need to pay attention to the details. Grammar is important and the ability to type fast is essential for productivity.
As you can imagine, it can take a while to fully develop these skills and many people simply don’t have the time. Transcribing your own audio may seem like a way to cut costs, but in reality, it takes someone away from their core business and the results can be less than optimal. So, there are always transcription jobs available and companies that specialize in transcription that will be eager to work with you.
There are three main types of transcription jobs: general, medical, and legal. For the vast majority of people starting in this career, it’s a good idea to forget about the last two for now. Both medical and legal transcription are specialized fields that are lucrative, but it can take a long time to develop the necessary skills and experience. To start, focus on general transcription which includes: podcasts, YouTube videos, minutes of meetings, and much more.
At this stage, most people understand the value of transcription to make a written record of an interview, meeting, podcast, or other source of audio information. But, it’s natural to wonder why this is necessary when we have technological solutions, such as text-to-speech, AI, automatic captions on video content, and more. This is a reasonable point. We’ve all spoken to a phone assistant, such as Alexa or Siri, but how accurate are they?
If you think about your own experiences, how often have you needed to correct a text after it was sent with a speech-to-text application? Now, would you stop using text because the speech-to-text is inaccurate or introduce some human intervention and send it yourself? At this time, technology simply hasn’t come up with a solution that can transcribe accurately and understand human nuances. This is why top companies still hire transcriptionists instead of relying on machines to do the work.
To put this into some perspective, Xuedong Huang, a senior Microsoft scientist, said “If you have people transcribe conversation speech over the telephone the error rate is around 4%”. This is more than acceptable, but he went on to talk about technology and transcription, he said “If you put all the systems together of IBM, Google, and Microsoft the error rate rises to 8%. Is it reasonable to use machines for transcription in a small or large business when it’s twice as bad at the job as a human? For companies that are looking to minimize errors, work efficiently, and turn a healthy profit, the answer is no.
Are There Different Types of Transcriptionists?
Yes, various clients need transcription services for many reasons, let’s take a look at the five most common sectors where you may be transcribing audio and video:
Business: Many people in the business sector prefer to read information rather than listen to it or watch video content. Having accurate transcriptions of meetings, conferences, keynote speeches and more can be especially useful.
Creatives: In recent decades we have seen the ascendance of bloggers, Youtubers, podcast hosts, influencers, and more. This industry is still relatively new and technology-driven, but there is still a need for text versions of the audio and video content they create. The creative sector is growing quickly because people are consuming more non-mainstream content than ever.
Education: Both educators and students need transcription services because many classes and course materials are presented in a video or audio format. It can be slow and tedious to listen to an audio file and key details may be missed. For these reasons, professional transcription is helpful to understand the content efficiently.
Medical: This transcription field requires specialized training to transcribe patient details, treatments, procedures, and other essential details. As you can imagine, it is pretty hard to get a handle on medical terminology, the names of drugs, and other details without training or some kind of medical background.
Legal: Attorneys, paralegals, court reporters, law firms, and other legal professionals need professional transcription for recorded evidence, depositions, statements, and more. Again, this is a specialized field and legal transcription training is needed to progress into this field.
The 8 Best Transcription Training Courses
1. Skillshare: Learn How to Transcribe
“Learn How to Transcribe” is a SkillShare course that is designed to get you started on the path to becoming a transcriber. This online course is taught by Elizabeth Le Roux and beginners will learn how to transcribe and where to find online transcription work.
The lessons are presented as 1 hour and 21 minutes of video lessons for new and intermediate transcription students. You will learn accuracy, listening skills, common confusing homophones, spelling, speaker labeling, transcription formatting, and the transcription tools you need for your new career.
Some advanced topics are also covered, such as conducting research, notation tags, differentiating between verbatim and non-verbatim transcription, and more. To make this course even more appealing, it can be learned for free as part of your SkillShare subscription!
This is a great transcription course for complete newbies and intermediate students.
Some advanced courses are included to develop your skills.
The training program is taught by an experienced transcriptionist.
At 90 minutes, the time investment is low to learn these valuable skills.
The student has access to a transcriptionist community for support.
There are practice tests to further hone your newly acquired skills.
The course teaches students how to find transcription work.
This is a free course that’s included in your SkillShare subscription.
This course does not include a certificate of completion that some potential employers would like to see.
2. Udemy: Transcription Skills – Learn Beginning to Advanced Skills
This Udemy training program is designed for a relatively new transcriptionist who wants to expand their knowledge. This is a comprehensive course, the student learns how to transcribe more accurately and efficiently. So, this is an ideal course for transcriptionists who are ready to take their career to the next level to maximize productivity.
The tutor is Chelsea Flint; she’s a professional transcriptionist with substantial experience transcribing for KMS Transcription Services and Verbal Ink. In this 1.5 hour class, you can master grammar, punctuation for typing, proofreading, text expanders, shortcuts, hotkeys, cleaning up trick audio files, and techniques to transcribe audio clips with multiple speakers.
Students will learn how to use Express Scribe to transcribe faster and how to market these transcription services to top companies. The course includes practice tests to hone your skills and this is a certification course.
This is a very affordable course.
This is great for both beginners and intermediate students who want to build upon the skills they already have.
The course materials can be downloaded.
The course fee includes lifetime access to the materials.
The tutor has extensive experience working as a professional transcriptionist with top companies.
Learning how to fix grammar, punctuation and proofreading errors are useful skills.
The time commitment is minimal.
This course has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This course is not designed for experienced transcriptionists.
Some extra content would be useful, but it still offers an excellent value proposition.
3. Transcribe Anywhere: General Transcription: Theory & Practice
One of the most comprehensive online transcription courses, Transcribe Anywhere is an in-depth course that’s designed to take the student from an absolute beginner to a professional transcriptionist. As such, this all-inclusive program does come at a higher purchase point than most of the courses on our list. But, at the end of this course, the student will have the skills, tools, and knowledge to start their own transcription business or find work for a transcription company.
The course leader is Janet Shaughnessy. She has run Zoom Transcription Services for more than ten years. The tutorials run across 2-4 months, the students will learn skills that will take them from beginners to experts in transcription, including grammar, punctuation, text expanders to increase speed, how to secure high-paying work, a 7-level practice system to hone skills, and how to score the best deals on transcription equipment.
During the course, the student has direct access to the instructor and other experts in the field. There is lifetime access to the student support ground on Facebook and ongoing feedback on the work. This will help the student to develop their skills faster, and they will learn how to market their skills and services.
This is an in-depth course that requires a 2-4 month commitment.
This is a great course for beginners and intermediate level students.
Students have direct access to the instructor and other expert transcriptionists.
Lifetime access to the premium Facebook support group is included in the course fee.
The transcription courses are self-paced for a faster or more methodical approach.
Students will learn how to market their transcription services to big companies.
A certificate of completion is earned at the conclusion of the course.
This is a comprehensive and costly course.
4. Udemy: Step-by-Step Transcription from Home-Start A New Career
This is another excellent transcription course designed to give a beginner all the skills and knowledge they need to start a new career working as a transcriptionist.
The course tutor is Amanda Fichter. She has worked as a professional transcriptionist for more than 17 years, and in this course, she shares her wealth of experience in this field.
This is a great course for people that want to make a career change and there is no barrier to entry. Students will learn many useful skills during this two-hour course, including transcription styles and skills, how to set up your office, where to find clients, and how to pitch your services to them. This course includes a large number of downloadable resources with full lifetime access included in the very affordable course fee.
This course is extremely affordable.
All the knowledge to turn transcription from a side hustle into a full-time career is included in the course.
The tutorials are comprehensive and concise.
Full lifetime access to the course and learning materials is included in the course fee.
Students earn a certificate of completion.
This course has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For some students, there may be an overemphasis on the business side over practical skills.
5. Transcription Certification Institute (TCI): General Transcription Course
The Transcription Certification Institute (TCI) offers this General Transcription Course to make the transition from beginner to professional easier than ever. The course gives the student access to a team of seasoned pros and all the training needed to advance quickly.
The course lasts three weeks. It covers fixing spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, and improving listening and comprehension skills. It also tackles improving typing accuracy and speed, transcribing files with multiple speakers, and essential computer skills.
Premium course materials are included with access to tests and quizzes to increase proficiency, speed, and efficiency. One of the best aspects of this course is that students may qualify for an internship with a transcription company upon completion.
Students will learn how to start their own transcription business.
The online transcription classes are designed for beginner to intermediate level students.
The tutorials are comprehensive and in-depth.
Students have access to the TCI job board to find work.
A certificate of completion is earned upon finishing the course.
There may be an internship with a transcription company.
This course is longer than the SkillShare and Udemy courses on this list.
This is an expensive transcription course.
6. SkillShare: Transcription and Captioning Masterclass | Master Video Captions and Subtitles
If you’ve been looking for free transcription courses, then look no more. This free course is great if you want to learn more about tools that can facilitate the efficient transcription of video content. Students will learn how to write and edit transcripts, which are useful skills to possess, as so many brands and companies make content and marketing videos.
The course tutor is Nitay; he is a transcriptionist, proofreader, and freelance translator with hundreds of positive student reviews. During this course, you will learn how to practice and hone skills, detect silent background noises, use autocorrect software, the best free and paid tools to use, how to get work on Upwork and other online marketplaces, and the best online and offline sources of jobs.
This is a free online transcription course.
It’s a great fit for beginners.
The study projects are easy to tackle.
The student learns about the best free and paid tools to help them succeed.
The time commitment is only 2 hours.
The student learns how to land paying gigs.
This course does not have any certification to boost a resume.
7. General Transcription: Theory & Practice
This is an all-inclusive general transcription learning program that’s designed to teach beginners everything they need to know about becoming a transcriptionist. The main focus is to give the student the skills they need to secure work in a relatively short time frame, including using shortcut keys and time codes, transcription styles, finding the best equipment deals, how to use transcription software and more.
The course provides lifetime access to the current and future materials and the student support forum on Facebook. There are printables and downloadable templates to make learning easier and 7 levels of practice dictations to hone the students’ new skills.
The course also teaches students how and where to find work as an independent professional transcriptionist. A legal transcription course is also available for transcriptionists who want to take their career to the next level.
Students learn how to find work opportunities.
There are plenty of learning materials to support the course.
The course includes lifetime access to all materials and future updates.
A general transcription certificate is provided upon completion.
This is a comprehensive and self-paced course, but it may take 2-6 months to complete depending on your level of dedication and time commitment.
8. Free Mini-Course: Transcription Foundations
The founder of the aforementioned Transcribe Anywhere is Janet Shaughnessy and she has created this free transcription foundations mini-course. This course acts as a marketing tool for the full Transcribe Anywhere course, but it’s also a low-cost way to gauge your level of interest in this career.
So, no matter which course you finally decide to join, it’s well worth taking your time to complete this mini-course first. The course offers a solid overview of the transcription industry, the skills you will need, and how to become a certified transcriptionist.
The course is broken down into seven easy-to-follow lessons:
What is a transcriptionist and why is it a useful skill in a digital world?
Who uses transcriptionists, how do you become one and what are the two keys to success?
Busting myths about transcription.
Ten signs that transcription is not for you.
How much can you earn?
Where can you get transcription work?
What’s needed to get started?
This free mini-course is a great introduction to transcription
This should not be considered to be a viable replacement for a full course.
How Much Do Transcriptionists Earn?
According to PayScale data, the average salary for a transcriptionist is from $15.22 up to $16.33 per hour. But, as a beginner with no experience, you may earn $10 to $12 per hour or less working as a general transcriptionist.
This improves with experience; an in-demand professional general transcriptionist would expect to earn $15 to $30 per hour. This hourly rate rises if the transcription work is more specialized. A beginner medical or legal transcriptionist can expect to earn $24 and $17 per hour respectively.
What Qualifications are Needed to be a Transcriptionist?
It is entirely possible to start a transcription business with no professional training. This is a tougher route to follow and some fundamental skills will be required to improve the chances of success, including grammar, fast typing, active listening, language check, editing, multitasking, communication, attention to detail, time management, comprehension, software (Google Docs or Microsoft Word) and more.
Although you can upskill yourself in this manner, it’s easier to follow one of the online transcription courses above to truly master transcription. The access to course materials, ongoing support, skill tests, professional advice, lessons on how to source work, and more are well worth the price of entry. It’s a great idea to invest in yourself to get up and running quickly and avoid learning bad habits and practices that may hinder your progress later.
What is the Cost of a Transcription Course?
This will depend on the course. It’s hard to make generalizations, but you should expect to spend anywhere from $2,500 up to $12,000 to earn a medical transcriptionist certificate.
This is probably an extreme example for many people considering transcription as a career that they can follow from home. But, even with a general transcription course on our list and the basic equipment, there is an investment.
All of the courses on our list are affordable if you’re committed to this career path. To gauge your interest, start with the Transcribe Anywhere mini-course and look at free transcription courses or cheaper options on Udemy, SkillShare, and other places if you can’t afford a more comprehensive course.
As the interest in working from home and running an online business has increased in recent years, many people have considered transcription as a career path. As such, this is a growing industry and the demand for transcriptionists is high. These transcription courses online offer the perfect way to learn at your own pace and around your existing commitments. Many online learning platforms offer free trials and this can give you limited access to a transcription course to gauge if it’s a good fit for you.