Medical Transcription: A Speedy Typists’ Dream Job?

July 12th, 2017 Mike Gecawich

If you’re looking for work in an interesting field and something you can do from home, a job doing medical transcription might be right up your alley.

As a career option, it has some very attractive features:

  • You can train from home.
  • You can work from practically anywhere you can get an Internet connection.
  • Nobody cares what you look like or how old you are; all that matters is whether you can do the job correctly (and quickly).
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for medical transcription was $35,720 in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available.

Many pursue medical transcription as a supplementary income rather than as a full-time profession.

What Medical Transcriptionists Do

A medical transcriptionist’s job is to produce the clearest, most accurate medical documentation possible, and to do so extremely fast.

It’s not as simple as listening to someone dictate and typing up what they say.

You must be able to decipher occasionally impenetrable medical jargon, distinguish between virtually identical words that sound the same but mean entirely different things, and know enough medical terminology to carry on a conversation with a neurosurgeon.

Okay, perhaps you don’t really have to be prepared to discuss axial tomography of the amygdala with Dr. Goodhope, but you do need to know which body part is involved and how to spell it correctly.

But most importantly, if you want to make any money at all, you must be able to type quickly.

Most MT work is paid based on production. The more lines you transcribe, the more you earn. An MT making 8 cpl (cents per line) would make $100 for every 1250 lines transcribed. The faster you can produce (and still remain accurate), the higher your earning potential.

Breaking In

You don’t need a license or certification to become an MT, but formal training is an absolute must. Even if you could finagle your way in the door without it, you wouldn’t survive on the job long.

MT training is available through community colleges and online MT schools. Fast learners with plenty of time to study can complete training in as little as 9 months, but most people need a year or more. The quality of training programs varies tremendously, so make sure you do your homework before signing up.

In addition to becoming masters of medical lingo, MT students must become experts on the nuances of formatting and punctuation and learn industry standards for medical reports. They also need to develop excellent referencing skills, as it’s often necessary to sleuth out details to confirm what you think you’re hearing.

Once you complete training, you can apply for a transcription job. You’ll have to complete several test transcriptions to prove you’re ready. Although some hospitals directly employ MTs, many MT’s get their first transcription job through one of the many outside agencies that provide MT services to medical facilities.

A lot of MT work has transitioned from direct transcription of dictated reports to editing reports generated by speech recognition systems, a.k.a. speech wreck. However, there will always be dictators that no computer can understand or transcribe, and there will always be MTs ready to come to the rescue.

Whether you want to be an MT or not, you can’t go wrong by brushing up on your typing skills and ramping up your typing speed. Learning to type blindingly fast is a matter of learning touch typing techniques and practice. And that’s what we’re here for!