Medical transcriptionists listen to recordings by doctors and other health care providers and type the information. Not all that long ago, transcriptionists listened to cassette tapes to do their work. Increasingly, the recordings are provided in digital format and the individual listens to them directly through the computer with a headset. The recording can be paused when necessary using a medical transcription foot pedal or specific keys on the keyboard, known as hot keys. When the person finishes the work, he or she returns the typed dictation in printed or electronic form.

These transcription specialists need strong knowledge of medical terminology along with excellent typing skills. They must be fast and accurate, and skilled in spelling and grammar. Health care providers typically prefer a transcriptionist who can tweak their grammar when needed. In addition, computer spell-check functions don’t catch misspellings when a similar-sounding word can be spelled more than one way.

While most medical transcriptionists are employed by health care facilities such as hospitals and clinics, many work from home. Work-at-home opportunities make this an appealing career for individuals who prefer telecommuting or self-employment. Medical transcriptionists may work full-time or part-time, and the schedules may be flexible, particularly for those who work at home.

Transcriptionists who work outside of an office generally are paid by the amount of completed dictation they produce rather than by the hour. They need medical transcription software for these projects. A company such as ByteScribe provides an audio player that works with either the foot pedal or keystrokes for pauses. The foot pedal also can be used to rewind the recording a bit when necessary if the communication was not clear.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts good job opportunities in this field through at least 2022. Individuals who are interested in the work may want to complete training if they don’t have a background in health care. Otherwise, they can acquire the equipment to do these tasks and begin applying immediately. It usually takes some time to become proficient and speedy, but when transcriptionists master the skill, they can earn good money working on a variety of projects.