How To Become A Transcriptionist (With No Experience)

This article may contain affiliate links, please read our disclosure policy.

Looking for a way to make money from home that will give you freedom? Are you detailed-oriented and can type fast? If so, becoming a transcriptionist could be the perfect choice for you! I will share with you how to become a transcriptionist. Plus, where to find your first job, even if you have no experience!

Woman looking at camera with headphones and a pen in her hands

A new gig? In this economy?

Well, yes …

In an unsettled world, more and more people are looking for a recession-proof new side hustle, a way to save more money, or even a more lucrative full-time job.

Any way you look at it, one of the absolute best options out there today is to find a job that can give you the freedom to work from anywhere, and at your own pace, like becoming a transcriptionist.

The shift from written content to audio and video has meant the need for transcriptionists is spiking. In fact, the transcriptionist industry in the United States is expected to grow at an annual rate of over 6% between 2022 and 2027.

Compare this to the US economy as a whole, which is expected to see less than 2% annual growth over those same years.

The fact is, freelance transcription is becoming one of the best ways to make money from home, and one of the best small business ideas to start on the side.

Better still, you can get started as a freelance transcriptionist with no previous experience and no qualifications.

Ready to find out how to become a transcriptionist?

Let’s get started!

What does a transcriptionist do?

A transcriptionist listens to audio files or video recordings, then types what is said into a document. It really is as simple as that!

So, who needs transcription services? In a word, everyone.

  • Businesses need transcription of their business meetings and conferences.
  • Podcasters, YouTubers, and other content creators need transcripts of their episodes.
  • Law firms and other legal bodies require that legal proceedings are transcribed.
  • Marketers need transcription of focus groups and product tests.

So, there is no shortage of transcription work out there, and no shortage of opportunities for freelance transcriptionists.

Types of transcription

There are two main types of transcription you can work on when you become a transcriber:

  • General transcription: This refers to all forms of transcription mentioned above. From academia to business and finance, to content creation, and more – except the legal industry.
  • Legal transcription: Legal transcription is different than general transcription in that it requires specific knowledge of legal terms, concepts, and research methods. This means that you will need to have received certification to work on it. Because of this, legal transcription is more lucrative for transcribers than general transcription.

Pro tip: It used to be that medical transcription was like legal transcription, a higher-level, more lucrative niche in the transcription industry. However, today, most medical transcription is outsourced. This means that jobs for medical transcriptionists are hard to find, and poorly paid when they are. At this point, it’s best not to bother.

What skills do you need to become a transcriptionist?

The good news is, you can start with general transcription right away, even if you have no experience.

However, you do need the necessary skills.

1. Type fast

Well, the first thing is that you must have the ability to type both quickly and accurately. In the transcription industry, a typing speed of 65 words per minute is adequate. But you’ll want to shoot for between 75 and 90. The faster you can accurately type the work, the more success you’ll have as a transcriptionist.

2. Great English

You must also have strong English language skills, including spelling and grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary.

3. Concentration & Time Management

Additionally, you should have strong concentration skills and excellent time management. Transcription work is flexible, yet can often be tedious and complex. Having these skills will ensure you get the most out of transcription jobs.

How much do transcriptionists make a year?

According to various job platforms, most general transcriptionists in the US currently make between $36,000 and $48,000 per year.

Glassdoor screenshot with average transcriptionist salary

Legal transcriptionists can make significantly more than that, between $50,000 and $70,000 per year or more depending on experience.

Glassdoor screenshot with average legal transcriptionist salary

Important note: When you start looking for transcriptionist jobs, many will list their pay per audio hour. This is not the hourly rate, but rather the rate paid to transcribe one hour of audio. Depending on how efficient you are, and how complicated the recording is to decipher, an audio hour might take 4-6 hours to transcribe. Generally, anything below $45-$50 per audio hour is considered low.

How to become a transcriptionist from home

The fact is, there is a lot of transcription work out there, and many opportunities to start a freelance transcription business from home.

This means flexible hours and the chance to work as much or as little as you like.

But the best part is that you can become a freelance transcriptionist with no experience.

No, really. There are many places to find transcription jobs, even if you are just starting out and have never worked in the industry.

Becoming a transcriptionist from home is simply about finding these jobs and diving in!

Equipment and tools

You don’t need a bunch of expensive gear or special equipment to become a transcriber.

In fact, all you really need is a computer with a high-speed internet connection and a word processor like Microsoft Word.

However, there are two things you will want to consider acquiring. They will make the job much easier, and much more lucrative for you.

  • Foot pedal – This allows you to fast forward, stop, start, and rewind an audio recording using your feet, ensuring your hands stay on the keyboard. This will dramatically improve your efficiency and mean higher rates of pay per audio hour.
  • Headset – This allows you to focus on the recording and block out other distractions. A headset is particularly valuable for recordings with poor audio quality, or where the speaker has a heavy accent.

Transcriptionist programs and courses

1. Free 7-Lesson Mini Course

The perfect mini-course to understand if transcribing is for you.
Plus it’s completely free!

2. Legal Transcription Course

This course will give you all the certifications you need to get into the much more profitable legal transcriptions.

2. General Transcription Course

A more affordable course to learn everything you need to become a transcriptionist.

While you don’t need to be a certified transcriptionist to work in general transcription, it is definitely a good idea to get some formal training, whether you are just starting out or looking to take your transcription business to the next level.

When you train to be a transcriptionist, it enhances both your capability and confidence and makes you more appealing to potential customers.

Free Workshop

You’ve heard me talk about Transcribe Anywhere before.

They are, quite simply, the best in the game when it comes to transcription training.

They offer an in-depth workshop for free. This free course teaches you what it takes to become a successful transcriptionist, as well as the dos and don’ts from someone who actually built a successful transcription business.

Ready to take the first step?

Check out this TOTALLY FREE workshop from Transcribe Anywhere.

Legal Transcription Course

And if you are thinking about taking the next step and getting into legal transcription, well, Transcribe Anywhere has everything you need to know about how to become a certified transcriptionist in the legal industry.

Remember, getting into the more lucrative legal transcription niche means that you will need to have legal experience and certification.

This course provides you with both, and so much more.

First, you will become comfortable with the US legal system and jurisdictional laws, gain an understanding of legal jargon, and learn how to conduct legal research, giving you the experience in the field you need.

On top of that, you will learn how to communicate with customers and find the highest-paying gigs, putting you in the best position to make more money.

And when you complete the course, you will receive certification as a legal transcriptionist which is recognized by the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).

This means you will be ready to start working as a certified transcriptionist in the legal industry!

The course is self-paced, meaning you can go as fast or as slow as you want. For most people, this means completion in between 4-6 months, much better than the two years or more similar courses at colleges often take.

The course costs around $1,500, and when considering that the difference in salary between general and legal transcription can be tens of thousands of dollars every year, that might be the best money you’ll ever spend.

Check out the Legal Transcription Course.

General Transcription Course

If you are looking for something a little cheaper but which can still have big benefits to your general transcriptionist business, you can look at a general transcription course.

This course provides in-depth information on how the transcription industry works, how to use relevant software and tools, and even how to land a job and build your customer base.

It is a great way for those just starting out to stand out from the crowd and succeed right away.

Check out the General Transcription Course.

Best online transcription jobs for beginners

As mentioned above, there are numerous transcription companies that provide jobs to freelancers with no experience, making it easy to find your first transcription job.

Truth be told, they often don’t pay much money, but they can be the best way to get a foot in the door of the industry, gain experience, and see if you are a good fit while still getting paid.

Plus, you will not need to clear a very high bar to begin working. Most require no more than a quick test or sample transcription.

So which platforms are the best for finding transcription jobs for beginners?

1. TranscribeMe

Getting started on TranscribeMe is so simple – all you have to do is pass a basic English exam.

From there, they will provide you with short, 2–4-minute clips to transcribe directly within the platform. As you finish one, another appears, and you are free to do as many or as few as you like in a sitting, in a day, in a month, and so on. When you reach at least $10 of earnings, you will receive payment directly to your PayPal account.

The pay is low – only about $15-$22 per audio hour for those just starting out – but TranscribeMe can still be a good way to start with short transcription jobs and see if you like it and if you are good at it.

As a bonus, TranscribeMe offers numerous free resources and guides to help you improve your skills, meaning you can, in effect, train to be a transcriptionist before seeking higher-paying work elsewhere.

2. Speechpad

To apply for Speechpad, you will need to pass a basic transcription test, as well as a basic grammar test.

From there, you will find available work on their Job Board.

One thing you will notice is that while many jobs will be available to you, there will also be more lucrative jobs which you need to be qualified for.

Don’t stress, Speechpad provides totally free qualification tests which you can take at any time. You can even go into a gig you’d like to do and click ‘Get Qualified’ directly within the posting to take the required test.

Entry-level jobs usually pay somewhere around $15 per audio hour, while jobs you need to qualify for can go up to $60 per audio hour.

You will be paid twice per week through PayPal, regardless of how much you earn.

3. CrowdSurf

CrowdSurf is the transcription company where you literally get paid to transcribe by the second. Seriously. Their audio clips range from 5-30 seconds, and you get paid on an ongoing basis through PayPal or direct deposit to your bank account.

Again, the pay is low, often under $10 per audio hour for beginners. However, Crowdsurf may be perfect as a place to make a little extra cash if you have a few free minutes throughout the day, much like online survey sites.

As Crowdsurf says, “by day’s end, you can have cash to spend.”

To begin working with them, all you have to do is complete a brief assessment, which usually takes between 3-5 days to process.

4. Rev

Rev provides work to over 72,000 freelance transcriptionists, including those without prior experience or special qualifications.

To get started, you will have to pass a quiz and complete a sample transcription. Note that the sample transcription must be completed following Rev’s styling rules. Don’t worry, though, they provide you with the guidelines before you undertake the sample.

From there, you will find hundreds of transcription jobs to choose from; simply do as many or as few as you’d like.

Rev pays a very competitive rate for beginners – $0.40-$0.75 per audio minute, meaning $24-$45 per audio hour.

And you will be paid via PayPal every Monday for files transcribed the previous week.

For more inspiration, check these 19 Best Online Transcription Jobs for beginners.


Do you have to be certified to be a transcriptionist?

For general transcription work, the answer is no; you do not have to be certified to be a transcriptionist. However, becoming a certified transcriptionist will make you more appealing to customers and more capable and confident in your work.

For a legal transcription career, you will need certification.

In either case, I would recommend checking out Transcribe Anywhere. They will not only show you how to become a certified transcriptionist. They’ll get you certified!

How long does it take to become a transcriber?

If you have the skills, you can get started as a general transcriptionist right away. Depending on how long the application process takes on the platform you choose, this could mean anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, even a couple of minutes in some cases.

For legal transcription, you will need certification, which can take some time.

Through college certificate programs, it can take two years or more to get fully certified. But with online programs, you can train to be a transcriptionist in the legal industry and get certified in only 4-6 months.

What qualifications do you need to become a transcriptionist?

For general transcription, the answer is none. Many companies will hire freelance transcribers even if they are not certified transcriptionists and, in fact, even if they have no experience.

However, it is still a good idea to take some level of training with online courses, such as this free course, which will show you everything you need to know about how to become a transcriptionist when you are just starting out.

For legal transcription, you will need to be experienced and certified within the legal field.

So what are you waiting for?

If you’ve made it this far, then you know how to become a transcriptionist, and are ready to start earning cash from transcription jobs! Now is the perfect time to join the growing industry and start capitalizing on one of the best ways out there to make extra money from home.

Or maybe you like the idea of working with words, but don’t know if transcription is for you. Why not become a freelance proofreader, a virtual assistant, or a freelancer writer (you know that I would highly recommend starting a blog)?

Either way, leave me a comment and let me know how it’s going! 

More inspiring ways to make money

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Heads up. Transcribe Me English exam is close until further notice.

  2. Wow…..Great writing. Your blog has gave me enough idea to get started as a transcriptionist. Thanks a million..