What is Transcribing? Everything You Need To Know

    Danilo Coviello

    What is transcribing? Transcribing is the process of writing out words that you hear on an audio file.

    The reasons someone does this vary, but in general, it’s to turn the audio file into a readable document.

    As you can imagine, some people do not enjoy the transcription process or simply don’t have the time for it.

    In this case, most people go ahead and hire a transcriptionist, which is a career path that has various benefits.

    Throughout the rest of this article, we’re going to talk you through everything you need to know about hiring a transcriptionist, or becoming one if that’s something you’re interested in.

    Why You May Need a Transcription

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    While the reasons someone may need a transcription varies, we’ve explained the most common reasons below.

    Podcast – If you have a podcast, and would like to turn the audio files into blog posts to reach more people through SEO, then you need a transcription service to turn the file into a readable document. It also helps more people understand your podcast, in case they have trouble understanding the audio files.

    Professional Reasons – Many professionals in industries such as legal or medical look for transcription services, as doing it themselves is too time-consuming. Often, a transcription is needed to help professionals communicate, or to be an easily viewable resource.

    Personal reasons – It’s also quite common for individuals to need a transcription for personal reasons. For example, if they have a large audio or video file that they want to use as notes as it can be frustrating to use audio for that purpose.

    Transcribing yourself or outsourcing?

    If you need a transcript, you have the choice between transcribing yourself or hiring a transcriptionist to do it for you.

    Time vs. Money

    The main difference between transcribing yourself and hiring someone is obviously the time cost vs the monetary cost.

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    You’re either going to have to spend your time or money on this transcription.

    As professional transcriptionists have processes in place, and experience to transcribe faster, it makes sense for many professionals to hire one as it’s less time-consuming.

    If you don’t, it may take you a lot longer than a professional transcriptionist which may not be worth it. However, it always depends on your unique situation.


    Something that you should also keep in mind, is the quality of the transcription. If you’re doing it yourself, it may not be to the same quality standard as if you were to hire a professional transcriptionist.

    If you’re in an industry such as legal or medical, errors in documents can lead to significant consequences. To avoid them, it makes sense to hire a professional transcriptionist.

    Becoming a Transcriptionist

    If you like the idea of transcribing yourself, you may also want to think about a transcription career.

    However, if you don’t, just skip this section, as we also have a transcription service that is a completely hands-off solution with an accuracy guarantee.

    Becoming a transcriptionist has the following benefits:

    • Work from home
    • Earn $22+ per hour
    • It’s quite an enjoyable job

    What Skills Would I Need To Transcribe

    The main skills you need to transcribe are:

    Good listening – As you are typing out audio files that you hear, you need good listening skills. If you don’t, it will take you a lot longer which will limit your earning potential.

    Fast Typing – The same goes go fast typing. You need to be more than comfortable with a keyboard. If you are being paid per project, the faster you type, the more you can earn.

    Good research abilities – Although you are just typing out words, it does pay off to research first. For example, if you are transcribing audio from a specialist industry like legal or medical, it makes sense to research the terminology first, so you don’t get stuck.

    Great language skills – Transcription is also a field that has to do a lot with the language, so you need to be more than comfortable in the language that you are transcribing. So, in most cases that would probably be English.

    Efficiency – Efficiency is also a core skill required to become a transcriptionist and that includes multi-tasking, as you have to type and listen. Don’t get us wrong, there are tools out there to help you, so you don’t need three arms, but you have to be efficient.

    What Equipment Do I Need?

    What equipment you need usually depends on the job. However, we’re going to give you a basic idea below.

    Word processing software

    The first and most important thing that you will need is the word processing software. In most cases, this will be Word, however, it can also vary based on the job.

    This will be where you type out the words from the audio you’re listening to.

    Foot pedal

    A foot pedal is a piece of equipment used by transcriptionists to manage the audio files, while they keep their hands on the keyboard.

    This allows them to keep typing out the text while managing the audio. As you can imagine, this makes the process much more efficient.

    Although you don’t necessarily need a foot pedal to become a transcriber, it makes sense as it will help you be more efficient to increase your earning potential.

    Other Software & Tools

    There are also other software and tools out there for transcriptionists. Some for example allow you to manage the audio file from the same tab as you’re writing in. If you have a foot pedal, you of course won’t need that particular tool.

    But there are also other ones out there like keyboard shortcuts that let you insert entire words, phrases, or sentences by typing out the shortcut.

    Which ones you use, is usually up to you. You might need to test some different options out to see which one is best for you.

    How To Become a Professional Transcriptionist

    But, how do you actually become a professional transcriptionist? Well, you have the option between becoming a freelancer or looking for a job.

    There are also some certifications that you can get under your belt to increase your chances of getting a job.

    In most cases, these won’t be officially accredited. However employers do often prefer if you have them, so it’s not bad to show off your knowledge.

    In terms of gaining experience, you can start applying to entry-level jobs, or offer your services on freelancing sites.

    We actually created a complete guide to becoming a professional transcriptionist which you can check out too.

    Our Transcription Services

    If you need a transcript but don’t want to do it yourself, then our transcription service is the right option for you.

    We’re an international transcription and translation agency that has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Forbes, The BBC, NHS, and IMDb.

    Our pricing is affordable, and custom to your needs to provide you with the best possible solution.

    We’re also able to provide turnarounds in as low as 12 hours if needed. And, after you request a quote we get back to you within just 1 hour.

    All you need to do is tell us about your project, and sit back while we do the rest.

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    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Lastly, we just wanted to cover some frequently asked questions. However, if you are interested in our services and have further questions, you can also contact us here.

    How much does your transcription service cost?

    As we provide solutions custom to our clients, the pricing varies from project to project. It varies based on how understandable the file is, the industry, and some other factors.

    How long does it take to transcribe audio files?

    As a very broad rule of thumb, it takes 3-4 hours for every hour of audio there is. Again, this does depend on various factors similar to the pricing. But, if you would like to learn more about this, we covered in more detail in: how long does it take to transcribe 1 hour of audio.

    What Are The Best Transcription Tools?

    When it comes to transcription tools, a lot of the choices you have are preferences. However, a good place to start is using the shorteners that Word provides you with.

    If you would like to see a full list of the best transcription tools, you can check out our blog post: Best Transcription Tools

    What Types Of Transcriptions Are There

    So, the most basic types are audio and video transcriptions. However, there are also more advanced services that we also provide including:

    Subtitle Transcription

    Audio Translation

    Video Translation

    Voice-Over Services