Transcription Equipment

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Working as a transcriptionist is a great, and flexible, way to make money from home. If you’ve got some typing skills, this may be a job or side hustle that you’ll want to consider.

In order to work as a transcriptionist, you will need a few basic pieces of equipment. This article covers the most essential transcription equipment that will help you to get started working and making money with one of the best transcription jobs.

Some of the equipment is necessary, and a few things are optional (the optional ones are indicated). You may even have some of these things already.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to get started as a transcriptionist, please see my article and interview with Janet Shaughnessy, How to Become a Transcriptionist.

You may also be interested in my article that features more than 150 side hustle ideas.

Transcription Equipment

1. PC (Desktop or Laptop)

The most basic piece of equipment that you’ll need is a PC. You don’t need anything fancy or expensive, just a simple (but reliable) PC will do the job. Some of the leading transcription software is Windows-only, so I recommend going with a PC instead of a Mac for the purposes of working as a transcriber.

Chances are, you probably already have a PC that will get the job done. If you currently have a Mac and no PC, you can choose software and equipment that will work with your Mac to avoid buying a PC.

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2. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is the leading word processor. Most Microsoft Word alternatives are able to open files saved in Word, so having access to Word is a great way to ensure the files that you create and save are able to be used by just about anyone.

3. Headset

A good headset is essential transcription equipment. As a transcriber, you’ll be wearing a headset most of the time you’re working, so you’ll want to choose carefully. The headset should be comfortable since you will be wearing it so much.

There are a few different types of headsets you could choose.

Over-the-ear headsets cover your entire ear. Noise-canceling headphones will often come in this style, and over-the-ear headphones tend to be very comfortable as well.

Other headsets will rest on your ears instead of covering the whole ear. Some will be more comfortable than others, and it may be a matter of personal preference.

Earbuds and in-ear headphones are another option, although some people find that they are not as comfortable for long periods of time.

You can also consider wireless headphones. The wire / cord can get caught on your chair or get in your way, so wireless headphones are preferred by some transcribers. The wireless varieties do tend to cost more money, and sometimes they are not as reliable, so there is a tradeoff.

ECS OHUSB WordSlinger Deluxe Overhead USB Transcription Headset

This headset is made specifically for transcribing and dictating. It has a 7-foot cord and a USB plug. You can easily adjust the volume on the headset without touching the computer. These on-ear headphones were designed for comfort with thick foam padding.

Spectra USB Transcription Headset

This headset is a good bit cheaper, and still an excellent option. The cord is 10-feet long and has a USB plug. You’ll also be able to control the volume from the headset.

4. Transcription Software

The software that you choose will have a big impact on your work. There are some free options available, but they are all limited and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get much better software. Here is a look at a few of the leading options.

Express Scribe

One of the most popular options, Express Scribe is suitable for beginners as well as more advanced and experienced transcribers. It costs less than $40, so it’s not going to set you back a lot. It works with both audio and video files, and comes in PC and Mac versions. You can use Express Scribe with a foot pedal (more on that later) or with hotkeys.

The FTW Transcriber

The FTW Transcriber comes with a free version that has limited functionality, or you can upgrade for $1 per month. This software is for PC and a Mac version is not available. There is a version for Android, but in general you’ll want to use a desktop or laptop for your transcription work.


Inqscribe is another good option that can be used with both PC and Mac, and with audio or video files. A 14-day free trial is available, and the full version costs $99.

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5. Foot Pedal

The foot pedal is another important piece of transcription equipment. You can use the foot pedal for things like pausing the audio, fast forwarding and rewinding. Being able to do these things with your feet will free up your hands (as opposed to using hotkeys) and allow you to work faster.

There are many different foot pedals available. When choosing, be sure that the foot pedal is compatible with your preferred transcription software, and also be sure that you’re getting the right version (PC or Mac). If you’re going to be doing a lot of transcription work, you’ll probably want to avoid the cheapest options because they are usually not very durable.

Infinity IN-USB-1 USB Computer Transcription Foot Pedal – This is a high-quality, durable foot pedal made with an ergonomic design to prevent foot fatigue. It has a USB cable and works with most popular transcription software (for PC).

Digital USB Foot Pedal for Express Scribe Pro Software – If you are using the Express Scribe software, this is an excellent foot pedal. It is also a quality, durable option that features ergonomic design. This one also has configurable functions, so you can set it up however you like.

Philips ACC2310 3-Pedal Foot Control – This is another excellent choice that will work with most of the leading software options, including Express Scribe. Like the others listed here, this one features an ergonomic design.

Transcription Kit (Optional)

Instead of buying the headset, software, and foot pedal separately, you could buy all of them together in a transcription kit. You’ll also find kits with just the software and foot pedal, which can be a good option if you already have headphones that you like.

One of the nice things about a kit is that you know all of the pieces will be compatible with each other.

The downside of buying a kit is that the individual items may not be your preferred choice. For example, you may not find a kit or bundle that includes the software you want to use, along with a foot pedal that you like and headset of your favorite style.

The good news is there are many different kits available, so you can probably find one that works well for you. Here are a few good options.