How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

A medical transcriptionist working in a medica...
Many of you have likely run across ads touting the work-from-home opportunities in medical transcription.  Since it is a largely unregulated industry, it is difficult to sift through false promises and realistic outcomes.  Let me first assure you that the industry is not a scam, and you can work from home and make a decent income as a medical transcriptionist.  As a mom of three small children, I have been working from home as a medical and general transcriptionist for five years.  There are too many details to cover in one article, but I’ll give you my basic take on the experience!
A medical transcriptionist is a professional trained to create patient medical records from doctor dictations.  This is mostly done digitally, usually over the Internet or over a phone line.  The transcriptionist uses a foot pedal or keys to control the voice file so typing is not interrupted while listening.  Transcriptionists are typically paid on volume, so speed and accuracy are important, but some positions do offer hourly wages.  
Many transcriptionists work from home.  I did my training online and started working from home immediately.  Some transcriptionists also work at a doctor’s office or hospital.  I am an independent contractor.  An independent contractor often has a 24-hour turnaround time, so the work is very flexible.  I can do my work early in the morning, during nap time, or at night so long as I meet my commitments for the day.  I currently work about three hours a day, but there are many full-time, part-time, and as-needed positions open in the industry.  
After the first six months, I found I was making about $16 to $23 an hour.  This number can vary with experience, full-time versus part-time status, as well as many other factors unique to each company.  In five years of working in the industry, I found it reasonable to expect this range.
Most companies require schooling specific to medical transcription.  There are many schools out there, and they are largely unregulated.  I highly recommend a school that takes no more than a year, costs no more than $2,500, and offers job placement upon graduation.  This is vital to success, because breaking into the medical transcription world as an entry-level candidate is really tough – almost impossible.  But a great school will have contacts and help you get that first job and gain some experience.
I attended CAI Medical Transcription.  I completed their course in about three months, working on it about 20 hours a week during that time.  I made the expense back in my first two months of working.  They offer many discounts and tuition assistance, and they work hard to find you a job upon graduation.  
CAI Medical Transcription also offers a referral program to existing students and former students.  If this blog article inspires you to take the plunge with CAI, then my referral student number is 3825.  You also get a $25-discount on your tuition if you use a referral number.  
Final note – This is a career choice and requires some family discernment.  The learning curve is a little steep, and the initial months can be challenging.  Once you get the hang of it and get settled with a company, it is very rewarding.  Don’t do the hard part and then stop right before reaping the rewards!  

This is a guest post by Liz Tappan, a medical transcriptionist and a reader of Little People Wealth.  Liz wrote about her career choice in a comment on one of my work at home posts and graciously accepted my offer to guest post about the subject.  Medical transcription is a viable work at home career, but like mystery shopping it can be hard to both break into and separate the good from the bad.  Liz did a wonderful job of explaining how to break into this field.  She included her referral link for a school and if this post inspires you to give it a shot I encourage you to use it!

Image via Wikipedia

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 momof2 August 6, 2010 at 12:04 am

Thanks for cooridinating with Liz for this post! I know that there is a lot out there about this field, but it is hard to sort through what is real. This should help a lot of people!



2 LittlePeopleWealth August 6, 2010 at 3:52 am

You're welcome. It is a great work at home career, but one that I knew little about so it was the perfect opportunity for a guest post!


3 Claudia August 18, 2010 at 6:20 am

This is a great post and an overall great blog idea – keep up the good work!


4 LittlePeopleWealth August 18, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Thanks Claudia


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