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How to Learn Transcription in Five Easy Steps

In today’s economy, many people want to learn transcription so they can get work to do from home either on a part-time basis to supplement a full-time income, or as a primary source of income on a stay-at-home basis. Whatever your situation or reason for wanting to learn how to do general transcription, learning how to transcribe from audio files is pretty easy. And getting proficient with it only takes time and practice.

This article will talk about the field of general transcription because that’s the fastest type of transcription to get started in. You don’t have to take any special classes and there are no certification programs for a general transcriptionist. You can get work from just about any business or academic field out there, except medical or legal where courses and certifications are most likely required.

And once you learn transcription, the door opens to a nice way to make some extra money or even launch your own general transcription business and be your own boss!

So how do you learn transcription? You do need to know your way around a computer, how to download files and use a word processing program. After that, you just need to follow these five easy steps and you’ll be on your way:

  1. Download Express Scribe HERE. Express Scribe is the most widely used software program today for turning your computer into a digital transcriber unit.
  2. Download Audacity at Audacity is one of the easiest and most often used audio recording and editing software available today. You may find webcasts and podcasts that you will have to record yourself online in order to use them to practice.
  3. Get yourself a good noise-canceling headset and computer foot pedal. These are necessary tools if you want better speed and accuracy.
  4. Download or record audio files to practice with. To find webcasts and podcasts to practice with, simply do a Google search for Business Webcasts or Business Podcasts and locate some directories where you can download the audio files or record them. You want to make sure you pick a wide range of subjects to practice with and a wide range of formats. General transcription work comes from all over – individuals, students, companies, other small business owners; the field is pretty much wide open and so your practice files should be too.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. This is all it takes to learn transcription. Start timing yourself to see how long it takes you to transcribe a 15 minute audio file, then a 30 minute audio file. The industry standard for transcription is four hours of typing to one hour of audio. Getting to the industry standard takes a lot of practice and you can only get faster the more you do it.




About the Author: Karen Musselman owns Musselman’s Online Publishing, operating her transcription business and her custom laminated bookmarks business from her home office.

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  1. February 9, 2012    

    You can also practice on MTurk :)

  2. March 2, 2012    

    Good point! Thanks!

  3. Siddharth's Gravatar Siddharth
    March 24, 2012    

    Thanks a lot. Your article is really helpful but can you tell similar easy steps for legal transcription?

  4. April 3, 2012    

    HI Sid,
    It’s pretty much the same, but you apply to companies that do legal transcription. Many of them want some sort of legal background, though. It’s not as easy to get into without experience. It’s easy to break into general transcription. Good Luck!

  5. July 7, 2012    

    Very good site you have created. I like your site it is very informative. Thanks a lot for creating this type of valuable site…

  6. Vipul Pal's Gravatar Vipul Pal
    June 9, 2013    

    thanks a lot for the important information revealing ebooks of yours. I was wondering you could tell me if freelance transcription can be counted as work experience by the companies who hire people for a permanent job?

  7. June 17, 2013    

    Hi Vipul, I’m glad you enjoyed the free ebook! Yes, your freelance work does count as work experience if you decide to get a job outside the home. Make sure you add your freelancing work to your resume!

  8. December 26, 2013    

    One of your comments stated that it is easy to break into general transcription to obtain work. Can you go into more detail about that? I mean, websites or steps the general writer could follow? I’d sure appreciate it. Thank you

  9. January 21, 2014    

    Hi Tina! Basically, all you need to do is make sure you have decent typing skills with at least 60 words per minute (but the more the better). Brush up on your grammar and punctuation skills. Then just start applying for transcription jobs. Apply to a bunch of them because some may not be hiring at the time. If you land a contract, they will provide you with a Style Guide. Some companies also provide training. I hope that helps!

  10. hiroshan's Gravatar hiroshan
    April 13, 2014    


    i am new to learn about transcription, can you explain impotent steps of the transcription
    i have to do online job in transcription basically yet i dint do kind of transcription.
    can you help me?

    and also i need some sample please

    thank you

  11. Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
    October 21, 2014    

    I first learned about transcription on where i got some bit of inspiration. But i didn’t know about the audacity tool, which i’ve heard about before, and how it can be helpful. I went on to give it a try but it looks too complicated. Maybe you have a tutorial on it?

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