How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist-Salary & Training

To be a medical transcriptionist, you need to accumulate a host of skills that will make you a valuable asset to employers. You must be efficient, strategic, orderly, thorough and able to follow directions well. Quality training can help you develop these characteristics and demonstrate your capability to the healthcare industry. To check out whether this career option could be your cup of tea, take one of this website’s free career quizzes.

Students typically must commit 2 years of full-time study to associate degree programs in medical transcription, but some accelerated programs can be finished in 1 year. The program familiarizes individuals with medical terminology and concepts relative to the healthcare field. It also helps them learn how to accurately type dictation and make consistent revisions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers prefer hiring medical transcriptionists with some post-secondary education. Training programs are typically offered at vocational-technical schools, community colleges or online universities. While accreditation is not mandatory for medical transcription programs, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) founded the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (ACCP) that does voluntarily recognize programs. Employers favor hiring graduates from accredited medical transcription programs.

Students learn the singular and plural versions of medical words, design presentations, and increase typing speed. They also learn the importance of confidentiality, stress management and how to produce timely documents. Core classes include, but are not limited to, medical transcription I and II, drug terminology for transcription, document formatting, body structure and function, and information technology. There are also courses in keyboarding, pharmacology, editing, office management and computer applications.

Becoming knowledgeable about administrative work is also part of the program, as many transcriptionists balance their transcribing with filing, scheduling appointments, and record-keeping.

The 1-year certificate program in medical transcription is another way to increase skill level in this field. It is usually completed online and includes classes in law and ethics in medicine, confidentiality of health information, introduction to allied health, word and excel, and medical terminology.


  • Average Salary: $38,300
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,577,400

Medical Transcriptionist – The Job

Medical transcription offers a challenging and rewarding job that lets you work from home and earn a good living. How good, you ask? The answer is, of course, “that depends”!

There are so many options available for a professional transcriptionist, and how successful you become depends on many factors also, such as…

  • Your level of experience
  • Your personal preferences
  • The needs of your family
  • How hard you are willing to work
  • And (one that is not mentioned very often) whether the company that hires you contributes to your success or … not.

The choice of options can be confusing, and that’s where we come in. You will get to explore the many different types of MT jobs that are out there as well as the benefits and pitfalls.

Whether you are…

  • just visiting here and wondering what it takes to become a medical transcriptionist
  • in the business for more years than you care to remember and are wondering whether it’s time to take the plunge and get your own accounts
  • one of the thousands of MTs in between who is looking for ways to increase your productivity and make more money

…you will see real-world tips and techniques that show you what it takes to succeed.

For your entertainment, be on the lookout for a page with YOUR contributions – little snippets from the MT community such as pet peeves (I know you have a million of them!), voice recognition nonsense, jokes – to help you keep your sanity. Enjoy!

Skills Needed

Do you have the basic skills you will need to be a successful medical transcriptionist? There are many different career paths when it comes to medical transcription employment. But before you launch out, let’s explore some more basic skills you will need to have a successful medical transcription career. Do you have the keyboard skills necessary to become a successful medical transcriptionist? Keyboard skills does not just mean fast typing, although that skill is very important.

In most transcription platforms, there is also extensive use of function keys (the F1, F2, etc. at the top of the keyboard), and being able to use these is key (pun intended!) to achieving speed and ultimately earning more money.

Most jobs in medical transcription require the ability to type numbers quickly, as you will be typing lab test values, medication dosages, medical record numbers, to list just a few. Keyboard skills will, of course, develop over time but, the slower you type, the less money you’ll earn and/or the longer your work day will be until you can build that speed up.

Here’s another thing to consider. If you choose to work from home (as opposed to a hospital or doctor’s office), will you be able to handle the isolation? This is not technically a basic skill, but if you’re a social butterfly who needs a lot of attention, this is going to be difficult for you!

Try this…stay at home for 8 hours, don’t allow any visitors, limit phone calls to 2 minutes, eat a desk (preferably in front of a computer!), and see how you react. Did you feel neglected and in need of social interaction? Or did you love it and can’t wait to do it 5 days a week? There are jobs in medical transcription that allow you to work from home and also work in a hospital or doctor’s office. You will have to think carefully about which is best suited for you.

Another basic skill you need to consider is whether you are going to be able to sit for 8 hours a day and type on a keyboard. There are many transcriptionists who have health problems, and medical transcription allows them to continue earning money at home with access to their medications or health aids.

However, whether you have health problems or are as healthy as a horse, it takes a certain amount of fortitude to keep your south end (assuming you’re facing northbound) glued to the chair and typing steadily! Trust me, if you allow yourself to become distracted easily, it’s going to be tough on you.

A better option for you may be to work in a hospital environment where distractions are kept to a minimum. To summarize, if you really want or need to work from home, do you have the basic skill of concentration?

If you’ll allow a personal note, I did start out in a 2-bedroom condo with my “workspace” against a wall in the living room, sitting on a steno chair ($20 at the discount store), and a 3-year-old running around getting into everything. If someone came to visit while I was in the middle of a report, I had to make sure I minimized it so that no one saw the patient’s private record. However, I had set a personal goal for myself to earn a decent living from home and went through a lot of hardship to get there. So, the moral of the story is, if you are considering jobs in medical transcription and have a compelling reason to work from home, the ability to work hard, and the will to make it happen, then….welcome to my world!

As medical transcriptionists, our common goal is to maintain professionalism and quality. When you work in an office, this is traditionally done with business clothes, conservative haircut, professional demeanor, etc.

When you’re at home, your professionalism and quality can only come shining through in your work. This is a basic skill that can ultimately determine how much money you make, especially with companies that either pay more for high quality or deduct for mistakes!

So no matter which of the different types of jobs in medical transcription you decide to pursue, make sure your reports look as if you have a Ph.D. in perfection. When you’re starting your first medical transcription job, keep in mind that this will take hard work on your part. Those skills and abilities I talked about will come with practice but, don’t worry, it does become easier!

Things You May Not Know

Medical transcriptionists play a crucial role to the welfare of patients. Their work has to be accurate and timely to ensure healthcare officials are able to deliver exemplary services to individuals. Take a look at some vital facts about the industry and its workers.

1. Medical transcriptionists must be excellent listeners, fast typists, and skillful communicators. They must possess good hand-foot coordination since most of their work relies on how they simultaneously utilize foot pedals and key in texts. Also, they should be organized, open to critiques, detailed-oriented and okay with meeting strict deadlines.

2. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, or formerly known as the American Association for Medical Transcription, is an avid supporter and representative of medical transcriptionists. The organization’s main objective is to provide these professionals with news on the latest career opportunities and healthcare practices, increase awareness about policies, and give MTs a voice on the legislative front.

3. Because of the increase in procedures being handled over the Internet, many MT companies have resorted to collaborating with programmers and software specialists to enhance equipment and informational systems. For instance, many medical transcriptionists now rely on hand-held computers, or electronic organizers called personal date assistants (PDAs), to help them complete their work.

4. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical transcriptionists held nearly 105, 200 jobs in 2008. The expected growth in employment opportunities is 11% between 2008 and 2018. The demand will heighten, particularly for the benefit of the elderly population who undergoes the most treatments and has a larger medical history than other groups. There will likely be around 13,000 new MT jobs before 2016.

5. The jobs of medical transcriptionists can take a toll on their health if they do not stay fit and exercise regularly. They are subject to eye, neck, wrist, back and joint problems because they must sit for long periods of time while they transcribe messages. Individuals in this profession should get in the habit of taking several breaks and getting regular massages to reduce issues.

6. reports that the median salary for medical transcriptionists is $38,302 yearly.

7. Most medical transcriptionists work full-time 40-hour weeks. Some of them work part-time or solely evenings and weekends. Regardless of their schedules, they typically set their own hours, although a fraction of workers are on call all of the time.

8. Transcriptions can specialize in a multitude of areas. Subfields include, but are not limited to, radiology, pathology, dentistry, surgery, pain management, occupational therapy and obstetrics.

9. Outsourcing is an increasingly popular trend in the medical transcription industry. The countries primarily involved are Canada, Barbados, Pakistan and the Philippines.

10. There is room for advancement in the medical transcription industry, as many skilled professionals are promoted to supervisory roles or become owners of their own transcription business.

Additional Qualifications

Individuals who want to display their professional standing in the healthcare industry opt to become one of two professionals: registered medical transcriptionists (RMTs) or certified medical transcriptionists (CMTs). RMTs have less than 2 years of an educational background in medical transcription while CMTs are required to have at least 2 years of experience. Both designations require individuals to pass written examinations.

Since the medical care field is always changing, RMTs and CMTs must maintain their professional standing by updating their skills. The time frame for re-certification is every 3 years. Fees for this process vary by state. RMTs are also permitted to undergo apprenticeship programs to renew their training.

If you want to know if this option is the right ticket for you, you may take our career quiz.


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