The author of this article is an expat Brit in rural France who has been successful in making a living from transcription and proofreading.
Do Home Typing Jobs Really Exist?
Yes, they do, but you have to search hard for them. There are genuine transcription firms out there offering genuine opportunities, but there are also many scams you need to beware of. The Internet is riddled with false promises of lucrative home typing and data entry work. The rule of thumb is if you are being asked for money, it's most likely a scam. Never pay anyone to give you a job. If it's a genuine opportunity, they should be paying you. That sounds like common sense, but the fact that so many of these sites exist means that they must be succeeding in hoodwinking people into parting with their money.
Can You Make Money?
Yes, you can, but you need to be aware that, like any home business, it takes time to build up your income. However, I have been doing audio transcription for several years now, and have progressed to become a proofreader. Whilst I'll never get rich this way, my earnings are not insignificant and have become an important part of the household budget.
Things You Need to Know
Audio transcription at home sounds like the perfect job. In truth, however, it's not as easy as it sounds. There are some disadvantages:
- It is often low pay to start with. You have to prove yourself and build up a reputation by producing quality work on an as-needed basis before you are in a position to negotiate a better rate of pay
- Typing is harder work than it sounds
and often requires specialist knowledge in terms of jargon and layout. Depending on your typing speed, speed at which the speaker talks, and quality of audio, the
average time it takes to transcribe a one hour audio recording is three to six
hours. You need to learn quickly and accept and
respond positively to feedback.
- Sitting still for hours on end can cause your back and arms to ache. It's important to have a chair and workstation ergonomically adapted to suit you. It is not a good idea to sit with a laptop on the sofa for hours. If you use a laptop, use it at your workstation, and plug a keyboard into it. Laptop keyboards are not ergonomically designed for touch typing.
- Healthy food is always important, but particularly in this line of work. In really busy periods, you don't have time to stop and eat properly. The tendency is to work 'til you're starving, grab junk food like biscuits, crisps or sweets, and then keep on going. I got into the habit of doing this and found myself turning into a blob. These days I have muesli for breakfast, fruit, yoghurt and a few nuts during the day, and a healthy low fat meal in the evening. It's actually helped me lose a bit of weight!
- The constant need to meet deadlines means everything else in life tends to get put on hold. Paid work takes priority, so housework and family can get a bit neglected. It's important that other members of the household understand the nature of your work and support you.
- Being self-employed means you have no guaranteed monthly income and no paid holidays. The idea that you can work flexibly in hours to suit yourself is simply not true. Companies have busy and quiet periods. If you want to make money from this, you have to take the work when it's available. If you turn down work when the firm most needs you, you are no good to them, and you will be offered less work in the future.
- Having said that, you need to know when to stop. It can be hard to say no when you know the firm is busy and they are depending on you. Whilst it is important that you are available during busy periods as much as possible, it's very easy to allow yourself to be persuaded to take on more work than you can realistically cope with. I've done this many times and ended up working all night at times. The quality of work produced suffers.
- The urgency of the deadlines can cause stress if you don't pace yourself properly. If you get technical glitches such as the broadband going down, or you're simply late getting a job uploaded, this can set your adrenalin pumping and your blood pressure rocketing.
- If you're not careful, your social life suffers. There is no time for chatty phone calls, and when people turn up unexpectedly, it can cause major problems to your work schedule. I used to have dinner parties, but I simply don't have the time or energy for them anymore. If you are a gregarious sort of a person, you might find this work a bit isolating.
- Remember that if you run any sort of home business, you are responsible for declaring your own income to the tax authorities. This isn't as bad as it sounds, but you need to put aside enough money each month in case you get a huge tax demand at the end of the year.
On the More Positive Side
Having said all that, there are advantages to this sort of work:
- It doesn't cost much to set up as a home typist. As far as hardware is concerned, you only need a half decent computer, headset and broadband connection. Some firms will specify certain types of headphones and foot pedals. In actual fact, a foot pedal isn't strictly necessary as you can use hot keys, but having a foot pedal is probably more comfortable and should help with speed.
- You don't need expensive software. Microsoft Word is the standard software that most firms use. Adobe Reader for reading PDF files is free for download from the Internet, as is the software you will need to play, fast forward and rewind the audio file. I use Express Scribe.
- You can work from anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection. I'm in the middle of rural France where there's not a lot of employment. If I go elsewhere for a week, I can take my laptop with me if I like and do a bit of work while I'm away.
- You don't have to dress up smartly to go to work. You can stay in your pyjamas all day if you like. If you look anything like I do sometimes though, just make sure you don't turn the webcam on!
- Of course, if you're not going to work, you don't incur any travelling or subsistence expenses.
- We've already discussed the issue of holidays in disadvantages above, but in theory, if you can afford to, you do have the flexibility to take a day, a week, or whatever off whenever you choose.
- Some people think typing is boring, and it can be, depending on the subject matter of the audio file you are working on. Some subject matter, however, can be very interesting, and if the quality of the audio is good, it can be very enjoyable and educational.
- Audio transcription is something you can do alongside some other jobs such as house-sitting.
- You are your own boss (an advantage worth its weight in gold). You don't have anyone looking over your shoulder. You succeed or fail by your own efforts. Consequently, you are much more motivated to work because it's for yourself.
- And, of course, the ultimate advantage, it's great when the cheques come in.
- As well as being a fast, accurate typist, you must be computer literate and possess some research skills. It's often necessary to track down names and jargon which typically requires you to switch between several open document windows and the Web.
- You need to be a self-starter. When you are in the comfort of your own home, it's very easy to succumb to the luxury of being there and not feel like working. It can take a lot of self-discipline to force yourself to knuckle down to work, especially if other members of the household are all relaxing.
Finding a Job
Listed below are a few sites that I've come across where vacancies sometimes arise. This list is not exhaustive by any means. There are others out there. Some of them may not be accepting applications at the moment, so you will need to return periodically to check.
Applying For a Job
- When you apply for a job of this nature, make sure your CV is up to date. It's useful to be able to list secretarial qualifications and experience. However, speed and accuracy takes precedence over these, and you will almost certainly be tested before you are accepted.
- They will ask you for your typing speed. If you don't know it, you can find out what it is using https://typing-speed-test.aoeu.eu/ .
- The application process is likely to be online, so your CV should exist as a file on your computer in readiness for sending.
- If you get a test, don't rush it. Take your time and do the best job you can. You'll probably only get one shot at it.
Start Your Own Business
Finally, for those entrepreneurs amongst you, once you get some experience, there is nothing to stop you from cutting out the middleman and setting up your own business as a digital transcriptionist. One way of advertising is to get yourself out there on the Internet. If you don't want to pay someone to design you a website, there are numerous web development software providers to be found on the Internet and you can design your own website. I set up my own website for my own business using the free software Yola.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2009 Annabelle Johnson
Thomas Carter from London, UK on September 19, 2018:
Have you tried applying for a transcription job at Take Note transcription service (https://www.takenotetyping.com/careers)
The test is only for those with a strong grasp of the English Language, and you need to be fast (65 words per minute min), but once in and up to speed, the pay is very good compared to the rest of the market.
Their editor is awesome, making it much faster to transcribe.
CeeGunn from Canada on April 30, 2018:
I've been working as an online transcriptionist for almost 10 years. It's interesting work but does require a lot of self-discipline. It's way too easy to be distracted! :)
Hanifq on November 05, 2014:
Its good to know that these types of job are 'low pay' to start with, until you build your experience and reputation up.
Orca5 on October 24, 2014:
I have been working for a few years doing general transcription for an online agency which pays about $40 per audio hour. For me, transcription is satisfying to do, but only when the audio is good. I like the interviews where I learn something, usually about an aspect of disease, or sometimes a new computer software. Also, I love to type.
Considering the amount of skill and intelligence required, especially to do transcription of difficult topics requiring considerable Internet research beyond looking up spelling, it discourages me that I often earn less than minimum wage, even though I'm a fast typist, went to graduate school, and have a high IQ. Quality-wise, I'm probably in the top 1% of people who do this kind of work. But at my agency, it doesn't matter, there is no advancement or raise in salary. I could be there for the next 20 years and still be earning less than minimum wage.
The agencies do not operate on big profit margins, and it is very competitive for them to attract clients. I have worked for regular companies with full medical, dental, vacation, where I earned five times as much, and this was many years ago. I wasn't doing transcription. So, I've had to think philosophically about doing such skilled work for sub-minimum wage.
One thing that can really help is to use an audio equalizer. Windows has one built in but it is tricky to access. I used that one for a year. Now I use a separate piece of software. The equalizer can be used to equalize the volume of the voices, lessen background noise, and enhance the intelligibility of the voice.
Sometimes audio can have sounds which are disturbing to listen to or even damaging for the hearing, and so it is good to be able to filter that out.
The other suggestion I have is to use high-quality headphones which are also comfortable. I use comfortable $10 headphones for the first pass most of the time, or my speakers (if the audio is good), and then uncomfortable, expensive ones for the proof pass. The brand I use is known for having excellent sound but also for being uncomfortable. I owned them before; that's the only reason I didn't buy good comfortable ones.
The best way to find out if you like to do transcription is to work for an agency that is relatively easy to get into, even if their pay is scary. Then leave after a month, once you are confident you are good at this and like doing it.
Agencies have different twists, as far as what type of work they do -- for example, some have focus groups -- and also how they operate, and distribute the work.
I thought this was a good post, and I wish I had the I-don't-know-what to strike out on my own and cut out the middleman.
For me, the best part of transcription is I like to hear intelligent people talk and I like to learn new things. Also, as I mentioned, I like to type.
orandze from Pittsburgh on October 09, 2014:
This is perfect. If anyone is looking to get some REAL work doing audio transcription they need to read an article like this. Thank you for being upfront and honest about the reality of the work and not promising $200+ a day like a lot of the scams out there do.
I've worked off and on through Quicktate, and I don't have anything negative to report about it. Although they don't always have audio for you to type, I like to keep it open and waiting while I'm doing other work on the computer at home. I usually get some good fun money this way. Nothing substantial, but an extra $10-20 a week can pay for a nice monthly date night with the wife :)
Emily Lantry from Tennessee on October 04, 2014:
I've worked as a transcriptions before and I am hoping to try to start again soon. This hub was helpful. I've been trying to find a company I am interested in starting with. Thanks for sharing. :)
Dr. Tom from Lagos Nigeria on October 03, 2014:
Whaoo....! What a great post. These are the kinds of posts that we need people to be posting on this platform.
I have been scammed severally in the name of work at home jobs until very recently that i started using my thinking cap...
However, a word is enough for the wise
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on September 30, 2014:
Hello Lynn. Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. I've never had a problem with transferring files from the UK. I know there are other typists in France who receive files from the UK as well. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Ireland. Have you tried Way With Words? They are a worldwide organisation. https://waywithwords.net/find-out-more/work-for-us...
The entrance tests are rigorous, but once you're in, there is plenty of work and it may lead on to other things. I wish you the best of luck.
Lynn on September 09, 2014:
Hi Paddycat. I am also living in France but have found that most companies wont transfer files out of Ireland or UK for transcribing. I have over 15 years typing experience (medical). But I'm not fussy what I type. I just want to type! Maybe you were lucky enough to get into the companies and earn a reputation before the jurisdiction laws came into play. Could you give me some advice on this? Thanks a mill. I live in Montpellier and I'm Irish. Desperate to get some transcription work. I know that I am accurate and fast. I have excellent referees too if anyone is interested. I just did one of those random speed tests. I was on a laptop with no table! I've no furniture yet in my apartment! So I think I could do better with a proper keyboard headphones etc.
Your speed was: 66wpm.
Congratulations! You made no mistakes, practice does make perfect.
Thanks for the advice.
Cedric Brad on August 12, 2014:
WANTED TRANSCRIPTIONIST & ADMIN SUPPORT ASAP
I am in need of an experience transcriber with administration support skills available immediately to work with us. This advert is intended for skilled individual with at least 1-3 years experience & able to deliver work in timely fashion. These job is flexible and a duration of one year.Individual with Transcription knowledge on Audio files to text would be preferred.This position can be Telecommute.
Budget range: $75/hr- $180/hr
Estimated start date: Immediately
Contact info: Cedric Brad
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on August 03, 2014:
Systems for paying tax vary from country to country, but in this line of work, you would be working at home as a self-employed person and would therefore be responsible for making an annual declaration of income for tax purposes. I live and work in France, and each spring, I complete and submit my tax return. In October, I get the bill. Therefore, to avoid a nasty shock, if you are earning a significant amount of money, it's a good idea to set some money aside each month as you earn it.
Jess on August 03, 2014:
I was just wondering how to go about doing the taxes for this type of job and at what level is it required to file? Thanks!
3afia on July 29, 2014:
Can you refer for me some companies hiring transcribers ?
Louise on July 23, 2014:
A really balanced review of transcription work. I've been doing this for 18 months and it is a lot harder than I anticipated. (And impossible if you've got sick kids home from school, the internet crashes, power-cuts, etc...). It still frustrates me when people say "oh you type at home, how easy!" and think I spend my days sipping coffees - and why isn't my house spotless. How can I type AND iron at the same time?? It has been great for allowing me to contribute to the family finances, but I don't think I would continue long term. I also find a miss the companionship of workmates.
Hanif-Ibrahim on June 05, 2014:
You hub "Online Audio Transcription Jobs: The Reality" is really very interesting or I should say it is not only fantastic but also very useful for the people who want to work in transcription field. I am an agency owner in Perth Australia. You can visit my website here http://hrcatalyst.com.au/. The information you provided about Transcription work is very useful for the people seeking a new job in this line.
Sheeroh on June 03, 2014:
Love this hub. And I love your sincerity even more. Transcription is great but it's really not for everyone. Cheers
Johnb475 on May 05, 2014:
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Johnb426 on May 05, 2014:
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Adriana on January 31, 2014:
Buna treaba Online Audio Transcription Jobs: The Reality! Super site: ora exacta.
SUSAN on January 06, 2014:
I am an experienced Transcriptionist and Data Entry Professional with strong Internet Research capabilities. I am very familiar with all the Office applications particularly Word and Excel. I am fluent in written and spoken English.I always put passion towards work, always aim to get the job well done and exceeds expectation. These qualities coupled with my experience and educational background makes me a good choice for any employer that will choose to hire me.
nagib on December 26, 2013:
i am ready to be employed for transcribing audio files.
pls contact me on:
Amy Ann on December 14, 2013:
Hello from Vermont, USA! This was an excellent article--thank you so much for all the helpful info. And many of the comments are great too. I just submitted my 2nd test with WWW, and I wanted to find out more about the online transcription community. Hope I pass my test; it was actually kind of fun...
Claire on September 18, 2013:
Hi there, I am really interested in Misfit's comments because I am a fellow South African and am eagerly searching for virtual work. I have been a transcription typist since March this year and would very much like to work for an overseas company and get paid in dollars. This is a great and helpful hub and if Misfit reads this and can help; would appreciate that
rachel on September 08, 2013:
Hi all. I have been working as full-time/home-based transcriptionist for more than two years now and I can say, I really love my work because I can be my own boss and I can work whenever I want.
tejpal singh on August 28, 2013:
please tell me about this job
Happy on July 31, 2013:
This is a nicely write-up. I really like your informative tips and Implement because I agree with you odesk test is an ever changing, as what you learn today maybe outdated tomorrow. I am very glad to here. Good job. Thanks.
parvez on June 15, 2013:
Great help. The information is very clear and concise I am thinking of starting this kind of work and this is exactly the type of neutral advice i was looking for. Thanks a lot.
Richard on January 15, 2013:
Hi there. All this is very interesting and has whetted my appetite for home-based audio transcription. But does anyone know where or how I can get a bit of practice using a pedal before I put myself on the market for a job?
Amy Marre from The all-sun side of the western US on November 15, 2012:
I can offer a suggestion to nmscat. There's always general transcription work available on Mechanical Turk. I actually just wrote a Kindle ebook about it, because navigating the system to get to the most profitable work can be tricky, but once you're there, you'll find that the top rates are $60 to $90 per audio hour.
(Yes, really. That's why I wrote the book---no one believes those rates are available on MTurk, much less not scams, but they are, and from some highly reputable requesters. But do steer clear of the video transcription that is offered by some, which rarely pays well at all considering the time involved.)
I only work a few hours per day at it, but it's clear to me that I could work full-time at it as well and average no less than $10 per hour---and I'm slow for the overall industry, just about 5x audio speed. Still, the flexibility of Turk transcription is great, since you never have to commit to taking any specific amount, just what you're in the mood for. So it's perfect for filling in. Just keep in mind that you will have to work up to being eligible for the highest-rate jobs, but with experience, it should take very little time. I did it in a month without experience, and that was very part-time and not particularly trying to work my way up fast!
Paddycat, thank you for this thoughtful Hub. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about needing to be computer literate and a good researcher. I think that one thing that is easy to forget to mention is that good grammar skills are needed, too---perhaps because most good transcribers already are quite attentive to language. But people without knowledge of the work often believe that typing is all that is necessary to transcribe, when that really isn't the case.
nmscat on November 11, 2012:
Great information and so right. You either love transcription or you don't. I love it and have been doing this at home since June 2012 but have 6 years of experience transcription experience. My trouble is finding more work. I work for a company now but the work is so sporadic that I need to find more work to fill in the spaces as this is the only job I have. I want to be able to pay my bills doing transcription only.
stella1905 on September 13, 2012:
Thanks for this posting which I found very interesting. I have just passed all the WWW tests and have signed a contract. I was very excited and enthusiastic about starting work with them. However, the stark reality has suddenly hit home as I realise there's a misleading paragraph in their training manual regarding jobs being paid at 4:1, 5:1 or 6:1 which apparently is no longer true. If I take their hourly rate, it means that even if I sit typing SOLIDLY for 8 hours a day (physically impossible) I will end up earning $66 dollars a day, or 50 Euros, and that's before social charges and tax are deducted. That's 6 Euros an hour before tax! Less than the minimum wage, and for a job that is demanding on many levels and that, as they themselves proudly state, only a small percentage of people are capable of doing. I'd be really interested to hear from you as to whether you think this is fair and how you have come to terms with this. Thank you! Stella
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on June 10, 2012:
I've been so busy transcribing, I've only just found your comments here on Hub Pages. Thank you so much for your kind remarks, and lovely to hear from a virtual colleague.
You're right, it is a fantastic job to have. I count myself as being very lucky to have the opportunity to do this work as I am living in rural France where there are not many jobs, and it is wonderful to be able to work from home. What's more, if I need to go away at any time, I can tuck my laptop under my arm and take my work with me.
The only trouble is, everyone should take a holiday sometimes. I find this work kind of addictive and difficult to tear myself away from at times, don't you?
Once again, thanks for your comments and sorry about my belated reply. Lovely to hear from you. I wish you continued success in your work.
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on June 10, 2012:
If your English is very good and you are a self-disciplined and fast worker, it is possible to do this kind of work without necessarily having to have experience or qualifications, although of course from your own perspective, those would help.
When you apply to a company, they will test you anyway, regardless of what is on your CV, and if you fail, you will go no further in the application process. When you complete any test, it is important, therefore, to check your work thoroughly before you send it back. You need to check your spelling, your punctuation, and make sure you have not misheard any of the words. Also, you need to keep the number of 'inaudibles' to a minimum, so if you can't initially make out a word, keep listening until you get it.
As a student, you might find it difficult to fit the work into your schedule because often you need to be available during the day. If you can get work with an international company working across time zones, or a company that provides work with longer deadlines, you may be able to work in the evening.
But make no mistake, this work is harder than it sounds. 10 minutes of audio sound can take from 30 to 40 minutes to transcribe, even if you have a reasonable typing speed. In addition, you have to learn to cope with different accents and varying sound quality of recordings. If you are working at night to a deadline, it can sometimes be very difficult to keep your eyes open, especially if you have been studying during the day and you are already tired.
I don't want to put you off. Some people love this work whilst others do not. It is really up to the individual.
Way With Words might be a good company for you as a student to apply to, but their application procedure is lengthy and strict, so be prepared.
I wish you the best of luck.
KamiJ on June 10, 2012:
I'm a college student majoring in English. I'm interested in this kind of work for a little money (starving college kid) but does it require I have a lot of experience or qualifications? I don't mind working for little pay at because honestly what is "pocket money" to you is probably a small fortune to me lol.
Misfitt from Cape Town, South Africa on December 17, 2011:
What a small world - but then maybe not! Fancy finding you on Hub Pages! I am a fellow WWW transcriber based in Cape Town and we have actually shared a few of those very long transcription jobs over the years!!
I still work for WWW but am also doing a lot of interesting transcription work for another very reputable Canadian company - Transcript Divas - who also work out of London and Australia.
I love the hub you have written; absolutely everything is clear and gives a really true picture of exactly what digital transcribing is all. It is sometimes incredibly difficult to explain to somebody who doesn't know anything about what we do that we are not just "typists"! Your hub does this so clearly.
For anybody who has a love of the English language transcription is a really fantastic job to have, even though it may be tremendously mentally draining a lot of the time. I personally do this as a full time, home based job as I don't have any other responsibilities like children, etc, so the opportunity of earning more than just "pocket money" is a reality for me.
Once again, thanks for the hub - a great source of info for budding transcribers looking to earn some extra money.
Allan on November 15, 2011:
I like the WWW but it has many procedures to follow can any one tell me where i can get audio transcription since I'm Kenya
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on September 11, 2011:
Thanks for reading my article. Always nice to hear from a colleague, albeit a virtual one. There are quite a few of us out there these days.
speechtotxtsrvc from Worldwide on September 11, 2011:
Thanks for putting things about transcription in the lighter sense. :) Transcriptionist here, too. :)
kimsad on August 22, 2011:
Thanx alot you have saved me from scams,May the might lord reward you.
Virtual Assistant on July 13, 2011:
Thanks a lot for this post..
This post is very knowledgeable about online audio transcription job. i got more knowledge from this post.
ner on March 04, 2011:
hello, this really lightens me up. Merely reading this makes me feel interested.
sergs_pogi on February 23, 2011:
Hello. Unlike you and those who post comments, I am new to audio transcription. I just got my first job in oDesk.com. Prior to reading this hub, I didn't know there are other companies offering this kind of job. So, thanks for this. One reason I want to pursue audio transcription is that I feel very tired working as an editor and proofreader. I know stress would be reduced if I work as a transcriptionist. However, the problem is that I am not really good in spoken english -- I mean the accent of American english. I wish I could find a software. Nice hub. Voted up!
Bridie Jenner from Leschenault, Western Australia on September 26, 2010:
I think transcription work is one of those things you either love or hate! Personally I love it, I've been doing it for almost eight years now and also enjoy the flexibility it gives me now that I have young children.
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on September 25, 2010:
Thank you for your comment. Nice to hear from a fellow transcriptionist. Yes, absolutely. WWW is a very reputable company and has grown from small beginnings to a successful international organisation in the few years since I started working for them. It's true that they demand a high standard of work and commitment, but if you make the grade, you should get a steady stream of interesting and fairly paid work. Best of luck to you!
scarletquill99 from Australia on September 25, 2010:
Way With Words is very reliable - although their recruitment process is extremely lengthy and difficult, so don't apply online with them if you don't have time or intend to follow through religiously with their training process...only 4% of the people who apply to work for Way With Words actually end up getting a job with them.
I'm in the process of being trained by them right now and I have to say that all the trainers and recruitment staff are very helpful and nice, even to us new people! Everything seems excellently run and very professional - but as I pointed out before, be prepared to read through their huge training manual and be tested & tested over and over again before they eventually hire you!
It's VERY tough, but rewarding...in that they are certainly a reputable and fair company.
So, nice Hub :D The tips will certainly be helpful to many people looking for work from home jobs.
Annabelle Johnson (author) from Charente, France on May 19, 2010:
You are absolutely right. Anyone looking for this kind of work needs to beware of scams. A reputable company will not ask for any kind of payment from you. The idea is that they pay you for the work you do, as in any other type of employment. Good luck with your new enterprise.
Online Transcription Services on May 19, 2010:
Through this post we got to know about Online Audio Transcription Jobs as there are genuine transcription firms out there offering genuine opportunities, but there are also many scams you need to beware of.