Have you noticed the staggering demand for online transcription in 2022?
Everyone from podcasters to lawyers wants to have their audio files written down. So, it’s no wonder that the transcription business is booming. Even online transcription jobs for beginners aren’t hard to find if you know where to look.
We’ve listed the 27 best online transcription jobs for beginners and experienced transcriptionists that we could find, along with everything you need to know about how to get started.
Because, as experienced transcriptionist Merry Wise explains, “the beauty of these platforms is that you get to learn while you earn, and they save you time searching for clients on your own.”
- What is transcription?
- What skills will I need as a beginner transcriptionist?
- What are the pay rates like?
- Transcription Service Categories
- Transcription Work from Home Equipment
- 27 Online Transcription Jobs for Beginners and Experts
- 1. GMR Transcription
- 2. TranscribeMe
- 3. GoTranscript
- 4. CrowdSurf
- 5. Rev
- 6. Pioneer Transcription Services
- 7. Mechanical Turk
- 8. Scribie
- 9. BabbleType
- 10. SpeechPad
- 11. Transcript Divas
- 12. 3Play Media
- 13. Way With Words
- 14. Appen
- 15. Transcription Hub
- 16. BAM
- 17. Allegis
- 18. Purple Shark
- 19. Alpha Dog Transcriptions
- 20. SpeakWrite
- 21. Ubiqus, formerly Verbal Ink
- 22. Transcription Outsourcing
- 23. Neal R. Gross
- 24. Quicktate
- 25. Audio Transcription Center
- 26. Automatic Sync Technologies (AST)
- 27. Upwork
- While You’re Here
What is Transcription?
Transcription involves transforming speech into writing. It’s been around for years; think back to pre-internet days — secretaries taking dictation notes and typing up word-perfect letters and documents.
So, in a nutshell, transcribers listen to audio files and type what they hear. The work can be fun and informative — but it can also be time-consuming and deadly dull.
Isn’t AI squeezing entry-level transcriptionists out of the market?
You might think that transcription would be dying a slow, miserable death, since there are so many AI alternatives and speech recognition software around. But while these do save time in the initial transcription, none are perfect and still need a human editor to correct the mistakes.
So, while some transcription companies prefer you to type directly from the audio file, others use AI to transcribe it first and employ you to correct it afterwards. (This is actually the method we use to create the transcriptions for the HomeWorkingClub podcast.)
The truth is, more people are using human transcribers than ever before. That makes transcription companies some of the best places to look when you want to make some extra money.
What Skills Will I Need as a Beginner Transcriptionist?
Most transcription companies list the following skills as prerequisites for their independent contractors:
- Fast, accurate typing skills — you’ll need a minimum of 70 wpm to finish the work quickly, which usually equates to a higher hourly pay rate. You can practice your typing and boost your speed with online typing tools, like this one right here.
- A high standard of English language knowledge, including spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Speaking a foreign language can be a significant advantage. That opens up work with transcription and translation companies and helps you when videos and podcasts include non-English words.
- Ability to concentrate for long periods
- Ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
- Quick research skills – you’ll need to discover the spelling of unfamiliar industry-specific words, product names, proper nouns etc.
- Be able to pass a background check and the company’s transcription test.
What are the Pay Rates Like?
As we point out in our 52 Best Online Side Jobs article, you’re most unlikely to make a full-time income as a beginner transcriptionist.
In part, that’s because entry-level transcription jobs are notorious for their low pay. It’s also because you’re still building skills. Inevitably you’ll be slow and make many mistakes that you have to go back and correct. Daily transcription tasks can help to get you up to speed.
Often the audio files are not crystal clear, and you’ll take many minutes to type even one audio minute.
Online Transcription company Rev says that the average person takes around four hours to transcribe one audio hour. An experienced transcriptionist will probably do it in half that time.
Transcription Service Categories
General Transcription Work
General transcriptionists transcribe a wide variety of audio and video files.
These can include correspondence, podcast transcripts (our own HWC podcast is a good example), meetings and forums, college lectures, market research and many more.
Closed Captions for Video Files
Most online videos offer closed captions. You’ll see them on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, but they’re often used for online conferences and course videos too.
Some transcription companies specialize in CC, while others offer it as part of their general transcription services.
Legal Transcription Jobs
Legal transcriptionists work with lawyers, attorneys, reporters and the police. Lawyers and attorneys often save precious time by recording letters or documents into a device and having a legal transcriptionist type it out for them to sign.
Documents include depositions, motions, correspondence, memos, court proceedings, notes and many more.
There is plenty of reasonably-paid legal transcription work available. You’ll need a legal background to understand the legal terminology or take some classes to learn the jargon.
Medical Transcription Jobs
Medical transcriptionists work with doctors and hospitals to transcribe audio files of correspondence, medical notes, referral letters, reports, discharge summaries and more.
As well as the usual skills, you’ll need to know some medical terminology and have excellent research skills to find the correct spelling for terms you haven’t heard before.
Transcription Work from Home Equipment
While new transcriptionists don’t have to have all the bells and whistles to start with, you will need some essential equipment and software.
- Desktop or laptop with a decent keyboard
- Microsoft Word for sending professional and secure documents
- A recording player like VLC or Windows Media Player to play the recordings
- Some transcriptionists recommend Express Scribe, an audio player software for PC and Mac with free and pro versions.
- You may also need a DSS Player to transcribe audio from dictation machines.
- Some platforms have on-site editors, handy little gadgets you can use to play, rewind, fast forward, pause and alter the speed of the audio you’re working on.
- A quality set of earbuds or headphones.
- If you want to take transcription to the next level, it’s well worth investing in a transcription foot pedal like this one. It will soon improve your typing speed by freeing up your hands.
27 Online Transcription Jobs for Beginners and Experts
1. GMR Transcription
GMR tells clients they provide “high-quality services at affordable rates with quick turnaround times.” Their work includes academic, legal and business transcription and videos and podcasts. They require a high degree of accuracy from their transcribers.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: GMR says that transcriptionists can earn between $1000 – $3000 per month, depending on their accuracy and assignment type.
Pros: Reviewers say it’s a good place for a side hustle. They enjoy the flexible hours and rapid response to queries and requests.
Cons: Some recordings can be difficult to hear. As usual, reviewers grumble about low pay for the amount of time the work takes.
TranscribeMe requires a reliable internet connection and computer, and specializes in one-to-two-minute clips. As well as an entrance exam, they give you a training program introducing you to the system and a style guide. The company pays through PayPal weekly or on request.
Pay: Starts at $20 per audio hour. The highest monthly earnings go up to $2,200, but average monthly payments are only $250.
Pros: TranscribeMe advertises a strong “promote-from-within” policy.
Cons: Work can dry up in the system, so you may need to wait for more, depending on the time of day.
This UK-based online-only company hires freelancers for transcription services. You can work as much or as little as you want. There’s a support team, and you get regular feedback on your work.
Pay: Pay is up to $0.60 per audio or video minute via Paypal or Payoneer. Average earnings are $150 per month, but the top monthly payments are around $1,215 per month.
Pros: Beginner-friendly with no minimum work amount. The audio can be interesting, and the system is easy to understand.
Cons: Low pay, sometimes poor audio quality, and if your work isn’t accurate enough, you won’t get paid.
You’ll work mainly with video files with CrowdSurf, creating captions to help people who have difficulty hearing understand online media more efficiently. There are also ultra-short files called HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) which are anywhere from 10 to 25 seconds long.
Pay: Ranges from $0.17 to $0.20 per task. There are opportunities to improve as you move up experience levels.
Pros: Flexible hours working from home. It’s easy to sign up. After 100 tasks, you start being eligible for a CrowdSurf promotion.
Cons: Many Indeed reviewers cite low pay as their biggest con. Some beginner transcribers say you’ll make better money if you stick to HITs.
Rev is the top company that pops up when you’re searching for transcription work. You must pass a grammar and transcription test, and they let you know within 48 hours if you’re approved to begin work. You can then work as little or as much as you want, choosing from available projects in the system.
Pay: $0.40 – $0.65 per audio minute via Paypal.
Pros: Highly flexible, no minimums on the amount of work. The company advertises that it has hundreds of transcription jobs to choose from.
Cons: Pay is at the low end of the scale, making this best as a supplemental income.
6. Pioneer Transcription Services
Pioneer is a woman-owned US business that prefers to hire experienced transcriptionists. Much of their work involves transcribing two-person interviews, although there can be a variety of other assignments.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: General transcriptionists $1 per audio minute; a variable per-page rate for legal transcriptionists.
Pros: Reviewers praise the pay rate and say they enjoy the work.
Cons: Work isn’t always uploaded consistently, and you can’t count on a set amount each week.
7. Mechanical Turk
MTurk has many micro-work tasks available, including short online transcription jobs for beginners. When you sign up, you’ll be asked a few basic questions and wait approx 48 hours for approval. M.Turk’s transcription tasks usually involve data entry or audio recordings.
Pay: Our HWC MTurk reviewer quotes some Reddit threads reporting a wide range of income levels from less than $5 per hour up to $12 or even $16 per hour. Workers from some countries are paid in vouchers.
Pros: Reviewers say they enjoy the flexibility of MTurk and that it’s a good thing to do in your spare time.
Cons: The work can be tedious and the rewards meager — don’t look for Mechanical Turk to replace your full-time job.
Scribie employs general transcribers as independent contractors, to transcribe conference calls, YouTube videos, speeches, dictations etc., for their clients. You’ll need good communication skills, proficiency in English, and the ability to comprehend multiple accents. The company requires you to pass a transcription test.
Pay: $5 to $25/audio hour rate. Payments are made once per day through PayPal with no minimum withdrawal limit.
Pros: The system comes with an automated transcript. Workers can gain promotions based on their performance. You can pick the files to work on with no forced assignments.
Cons: Reviewers on Indeed state that sometimes they have trouble with jobs being canceled after they complete the transcription due to poor audio quality. Pay can end up being below minimum wage, depending on how fast you work. Sometimes there’s a shortage of work.
BabbleType’s website says that the company is very selective when hiring transcriptionists. They’re looking for people with prior experience, very high language skills and listening ability to deal with sophisticated transcript formats. They provide this video for potential contractors to see if they’re a good fit.
Pay: BabbleType pays between $0.40 and $0.80 per audio minute.
Pros: Reviews on Indeed are mixed. Some reviewers say that the company has supportive management and is a great spare time job for fast, accurate typists.
Cons: One reviewer pans its low pay rate and poor communication with their transcriptionists.
SpeechPad is a beginner-friendly company that hires independent contractors to type audio and video transcripts. Some will be “clean” (remove filler words) and others “verbatim,” meaning you have to type every ‘um’ and ‘er.’ They require a typing speed of at least 40 wpm. They want people with good listening skills who are native English speakers and understand dialects, figures of speech etc.
Pay: Jobs are priced per audio minute. The pay starts from $0.25/minute for entry-level work but can go up to $1.00 per minute for jobs that require more experience. You may also receive bonuses for work rated 5/5 by the customer.
Pros: SpeechPad offers an excellent way for beginners to gain experience. The hours are flexible, and you can choose which assignments you’ll accept.
Cons: If you’re a beginner, the pay is minimal when you consider the amount of time you’ll take to type one audio minute accurately. You must keep to the set deadlines or face losing your pay.
11. Transcript Divas
Australian business Transcript Divas says it’s looking for can-do people who can deliver on time, are accurate and motivated to “over-deliver” to clients. Each week they’ll ask for a rough estimate of the amount of work you can do and send you appropriate projects as they come in. You’ll take an entrance test when you apply, but they’ll only contact those who then qualify for a phone interview.
Pay: The company prides itself on paying fair wages and pays higher rates than many companies listed here. They pay per audio minute and, according to their website, paid an average rate of $2.19/minute in 2020.
Pros: Higher than usual pay and you can set your hours, which vary each week.
Cons: Some reviewers found it stressful to wait and see if they passed the exam, knowing that Transcript Divas may never contact them.
12. 3Play Media
3Play Media is a great company for entry-level transcriptionists to get started with because you’ll be editing an AI-generated transcript rather than listening and typing from scratch. However, they have many formatting requirements which can slow you down until you become familiar with them.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: $10 – $30 per audio hour.
Pros: Good place to earn extra money from home if you have time to spare.
Cons: You must pass at least five tests before you’re accepted.
13. Way With Words
This UK-based company accepts transcribers from many but not all countries. It’s beginner-friendly, and they provide training if you’re accepted; however, you’ll have to pass their tests before starting work.
Pay: $0.45 – $1.73 per audio minute via Paypal. Payments are made monthly.
Pros: Transcribers say they enjoy the work, and the flexibility and that there’s always work available when they want it. They also enjoy learning new information from the interesting audio and video files.
Cons: There aren’t many complaints about Way With Words, which is impressive for a company that’s been around for 20+ years.
Appen is a micro-working site that includes audio transcription in its tasks. It’s a great place to earn extra money even if you have no experience.
Pay: Most projects are paid per task. You can earn anywhere from $2 to $10 per hour with Aspen.
Pros: The hours are flexible, and you can easily work from home in your spare time. Transcribing jobs with Aspen won’t replace your day job, but it can be an enjoyable side gig.
Cons: Projects can end suddenly, and the work is often inconsistent.
15. Transcription Hub
Transcription Hub freelancers transcribe interviews, sermons, classroom lectures, podcasts and more. They are beginner-friendly and rate you as Gold, Silver or Bronze, based on your initial assessment.
Pay: Averages $0.75 per audio minute
Pros: There’s a wide range of interesting work available, with opportunities to improve as you go along.
Cons: Some files will include technical information that takes longer to transcribe because you may have to stop and find out how to spell many unfamiliar words.
BAM is based in Los Angeles and works mainly in the film and television sector. The company is open to entry-level applicants who have fast, accurate typing skills, but they prefer to hire experienced transcriptionists. You’ll have to pass a basic skills test before you’re accepted.
Pay: Bam doesn’t disclose pay rates (or anything else relevant to freelancers) on its website. To find out any information, they ask you to email email@example.com.
Pros: The company sends you helpful resources, including style guides to study before taking their transcription test.
Cons: Although BAM is a legitimate company that’s been around since the early 2000s, it isn’t easy to discover much information about them online.
Allegis specializes in insurance and legal transcription and provides a steady workflow for work from transcriptionists. Their application process assesses your typing level, spelling, grammar etc. before you have an interview. Everyone who’s accepted then goes through their quality development program.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: Allegis pays per page, which, on average, equates to between $13 and $17 per hour.
Pros: This transcription company has clients from some large US providers, which means a steady workflow for its independent contractors.
Cons: You must have a Windows PC or laptop to work for Allegis.
18. Purple Shark
Purple Shark is a woman-owned transcription company. It provides quality services to corporations, authors, journalists and doctoral students. They require a high level of internet research to ensure the accurate spelling of names, places and other topic-specific words.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: Not stated on their website, but some websites estimate $1 per audio minute.
Pros: This podcast interview by Purple Shark owner Sharon Lee Harkey gives a fascinating insight into the transcription industry.
19. Alpha Dog Transcriptions
Alpha Dog transcriptionists work with narrative and documentary films, reality shows, lectures, meetings, interviews and podcasts. They ask for experienced transcriptionists who have at least one year’s work under their belts. You must be available to work a minimum of five audio hours per week.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: $0.90 – $2.75 per audio minute. Payroll is processed via Zelle.
Pros: Reviewers say it’s a friendly company to work for with flexible hours, helpful management and above-average pay.
Speak Write hires remote transcriptionists who can work in legal, general or Spanish transcription. They offer varied work with a flexible schedule. However, you’ll need to type a minimum of 60 wpm with 90% accuracy for the company to consider hiring.
US and Canadian-based transcriptionists only
Pay: The website shows the average monthly earnings as $450 and the top pay as $3,400/mo.
Pros: Reviewers mention flexible hours as being one of the best benefits.
Cons: Other reviewers say they find it difficult to follow the various typing formats required. Poor audio tapes with long gaps make it hard to work fast.
21. Ubiqus, formerly Verbal Ink
Headquartered in France, Ubiqus hires transcription and summary writers who work part-time, flexible hours. Their transcriptionists produce verbatim transcripts and then format them according to the project specification, including time-stamping when required.
Pay: Not stated on the website.
Pros: Flexjobs says that Ubiqus supports a range of flexible employment opportunities, including telecommuting and freelance.
Cons: Reviewers mention inconsistent work availability and audio quality.
22. Transcription Outsourcing
Transcription Outsourcing has teams that transcribe audio for Law Enforcement, Medical, Financial, Legal and General clients. They prefer transcriptionists with previous experience.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: Legal and law enforcement: $0.80 – $1.10/minute. Academic, financial, general business: $0.80 – $1.10/minute. Medical: $0.07 – $0.10/line
Pros: Excellent pay rates. The company website states, “you will be compensated fairly and above almost all of our competitors because we want the best people possible working with us and our clients.”
Cons: You may not receive a reply to your application. Transcription Outsourcing welcomes online submissions of interest, but they only contact the most suitable candidates due to the high volume of inquiries.
23. Neal R. Gross
This transcription company specializes in legal work, providing court reporting and transcription to global public and private sector clients. They look for excellent typing speed and the ability to work on overnight transcription delivery.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: Not stated
Pros: Well established, reputable company.
Cons: You must be available to work at least 30 hours per week which means the hours aren’t as flexible as those of some other companies.
Quicktate looks for experienced freelance transcriptionists for voicemail messages, memos, letters, legal files etc. They ask for accurate spelling, punctuation and listening skills and emphasize that you must be able to follow instructions carefully.
Pay: General transcription pays $0.01 per 4 words, while medical work pays $0.01 per 2 words.
Pros: Reviewers report that most projects have reasonable audio quality. Excellent transcribers may be invited to work for a sister site called iDictate.
Cons: There is a long list of requirements and agreements in their application, which requires three references.
25. Audio Transcription Center
This 56-year old transcription company says that you don’t need to have transcription experience to apply to work for them. But you should be able to type at least 80 wpm, have excellent computer and research skills and good general knowledge. The website doesn’t say whether they hire internationally or prefer US-based contractors.
Pay: $1 per audio minute
Pros: The work is interesting, covering oral history interviews, focus groups, tech webinars, commencement addresses and more.
Cons: One reviewer on Indeed says they found the workload sporadic.
26. Automatic Sync Technologies (AST)
AST prefers to hire experienced transcriptionists with good time management skills because their projects often have strict deadlines. As well as English, they work with German, French and Spanish transcribers too, so being bilingual in one of these would be a definite advantage.
US-based transcriptionists only
Pay: Not stated publicly.
Pros: Reviewers say they have good support from management and their team.
Cons: Other Indeed reviewers mention some poor audio quality and that the company expects exceptionally high accuracy.
If you’d rather find your own clients rather than work for transcription companies, then try searching on Upwork or one of the other freelance job boards.
Pay: Negotiable depending on your rates and client expectations.
Pros: Upwork provides secure payments and a huge variety of projects to bid for. Also, there are no rules that say you can’t work on one of the platforms while also freelancing via the job boards.
Cons: Some clients offer unrealistically low pay rates, and there can be a lot of competition to win jobs.
All in all, there are plenty of areas where transcription is becoming more and more in-demand.
It’s a good opportunity to get paid while learning or polishing your transcription skills. Advancement can come from the platform you’re working for, or you can take off and freelance with it.
Most online transcription pays some guaranteed income (although not a lot of it) if you need a few groceries for the week. It’s a great way to make a little extra cash after putting the kids to bed.
However, if you’re expecting to become a highly-paid, full time job, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed.
While You’re Here
Check out this free mini course to learn the basics of making a living from transcription.
Perhaps you’re a good typist, but your general computer skills need polishing. In that case, you can read this article about improving them.
Look here for online medical transcriptionist jobs or legal transcription jobs from home.
Lyn is the author of Culture Smart NZ (2022). A freelance writer and blogger from New Zealand, she specialises in content for lifestyle magazines, blogs, podcasts and virtual summits. You’ll find her blog on writing, farm life & talented New Zealanders at lynmcnamee.com