Medical Transcriptionist
How to Become a

Medical Transcriptionist

The complete career guide to be a Medical Transcriptionist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $35,720
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -3.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Medical transcriptionists listen to recordings made by doctors and medical workers and convert the audio into a written report.

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What is a Medical Transcriptionist?

Medical transcriptionists have to be diligent, attentive individuals with strong writing and time management skills. They are organized and able to work under pressure, a necessity in a field with fixed, and oftentimes rushed, deadlines. The median wage for medical transcriptionists is slightly below the average for all occupations in the United States, however the industry’s flexible hours and the ability to telecommute offset this to a degree to offer generally high job satisfaction.

In the course of their jobs, they typically fulfill the following responsibilities:

  • Listen to recorded audio of healthcare workers and transcribe dictation into varying document, such as referral letters, test results and operative reports
  • Edit and review drafts submitted by speech recognition software, ensuring completion, accuracy and stylistic consistency
  • Convert medical jargon and abbreviations into easily understandable long-form sentences
  • Assess material for mistakes, absent information, errors and inconsistencies that might otherwise impede upon proper patient care
  • Regularly follow up with doctors, medical staff and healthcare providers to ensure accuracy and efficiency of reports
  • Submit reports into EHR (Electronic Health Records) systems
  • Perform light office duties, such as scheduling appointments, filing and answering phones

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that doctors and other healthcare workers provide and transcribe them into written reports, simultaneously reviewing and editing them for accuracy. Those in the field must also exercise discretion in interpreting medical jargon and abbreviations in preparing discharge summaries, patient medical histories and various other documents. Speech recognition technology is more prevalent today and is often utilized to more efficiently convert medical documents.

In the past, audio playback delivered on a recorder or enabled through software on a computer provided the primary means for them to prepare their reports. While this is still done, technological advances have altered the industry at large in how the job is performed. Traditionally, medical transcriptionist would listen to dictation and produce a transcribed report, but the rise of specialized speech recognition software has rendered this singular method somewhat obsolete.

Medical documents are downloaded in the form of an initial draft using this advanced software and the transcriptionist then reviews and edits the draft, focusing on accuracy and identifying errors, missing information or problems. Medical reference books and word processing software assist in this new method.

Despite advances, medical transcriptionists must still be familiar with treatment procedures, medical terms, basic anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. This is vital to not only understanding what the doctor or healthcare provider has recorded, but transcribing that information to the greatest degree of accuracy possible significantly lowers the possibility of patients receiving improper, even dangerous, care.

Medical transcriptionists will likely have to juggle the newer methods while still performing traditional services, which typically includes familiarity with electronic health records (EHR) systems. They’ll train medical staff on such system usage, develop office policies for documentation and if working within a doctor’s office, often entertain light clerical responsibilities.


The majority of medical transcriptionists work in doctors offices, hospitals or for companies that provide healthcare outlets with transcription services. Most receive drafts and dictation through the internet and are therefore able to telecommute or work from home, submitting their reports electronically.  Around fifteen percent of medical transcriptionists are self-employed


Employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to dip slightly over the next ten years, despite an increase in demand for services rendered . This is almost entirely a result of outsourcing and soaring productivity due to advances in technology rather than a lack of need within the industry.

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How To Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Most medical transcriptionists are required to have a high school diploma. A thorough understanding of grammar, syntax, medical terminology and basic word-processing technology are essential. Postsecondary institutions and vocational training covers increasingly important skills such as anatomy, risk management, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation and grammar and punctuation. Graduates are highly sought by employers since it means less training will be needed upon hiring.

Certification is not a requirement to employment, but it oftentimes results in higher pay upon entry into the field. Many engage in such programs and continue on to an associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete. Since speech recognition software and industry technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, some employers prefer to hire those who have a degree or have completed training programs at a postsecondary institution.

Medical Transcriptionist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Medical Transcriptionist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Medical Transcriptionist's can make an average annual salary of $35,720, or $17 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $27,810 or $13 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #607 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Medical Transcriptionists

  • 0.6%   Doctorate
  • 2.3%   Masters
  • 15.1%   Bachelors
  • 21.5%   Associates
  • 39.4%   College
  • 19.9%   High School
  • 1.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Medical Transcriptionist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -2,200 jobs for a total of 67,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -3.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #671 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Medical Transcriptionists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 18,200 -4,500 -5%
Offices of physicians 16,000 -2,300 -2%
Self-employed workers 8,400 700 1%

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