Medical Transcriptionists Overview

Completing a postsecondary medical transcription training program and receiving a certificate will create more job opportunities for medical transcriptionists and will be preferred by employers. Many medical transcriptionists work from home-based offices and telecommute. Other medical transcriptionists work in hospitals or physicians’ offices.

Nature of the Work for Medical Transcriptionists

Medical Transcriptionists

The work of a medical transcriptionist involves transcribing dictated recordings made by healthcare professionals or physicians and turning them into medical reports, correspondence, or other material. Their listening equipment includes a headset, foot pedal for pausing, and typing text into a computer or word processor while also editing for grammar and clarity when necessary. Medical transcriptionists will produce documents such as discharge summaries, medical history reports, operative reports, autopsy reports, and many more. When completed, medical transcriptionists return the dictation for review, signature, and correction to the physician or healthcare professional. This dictation will later become a part of a patient’s file.

Medical transcriptionists must understand medical terminology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and other treatment assessments in order to accurately transcribe these reports. They must also understand medical jargon and abbreviations in order to transcribe them into a report. Medical transcriptionists will also turn to standard medical reference materials, available online or in print, to help identify terms and comply with standards.

Medical transcriptionists with a lot of experience can easily find mistakes or inconsistencies in a medial report. By correcting such reports, medical transcriptionists help reduce the chance of a patient receiving harmful or ineffective treatment and increased quality care for each patient.

The internet as well as other digital or analog dictating equipment has recently been used to provide medical transcriptionists with dictation. Due to the internet’s popularity, many medical transcription departments are working with information systems staff and programmers to stream in voice communication to deliver data online. Medical transcriptionists can then use personal data assistants (PDAs) or hand-held personal computers for dictation. Speech recognition technology has allowed sound to turn into text to create drafts of reports. Medical transcriptionists are then responsible for formatting the report, editing the report, and checking for consistency.

Many medical transcriptionists work in specialized fields where there is a standard set of terminology. They can use utilize speech recognition technology to help with dictations.

Most medical transcriptionists work in hospitals, clinic, physicians’ offices, medical libraries, government medical facilities, or their own homes. Medical transcriptionists may perform other duties such as scheduling appointments, answering phones, and handling mail when working in physicians’ offices.

Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can be a part of the job for a medical transcriptionist. They can then suffer wrist, back or neck pain such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The average workweek for a medical transcriptionist is 40 hours. Those who are self-employed will most likely work irregular hours such as nights, weekends, and part-time.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Medical Transcriptionists

Writing skills, computer skills, and postsecondary training are important to employers looking to hire medical transcriptionists.

Many vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs offer postsecondary training in medical transcription.

Medical transcriptionists should complete a 1-year certificate program or a 2-year associate’s degree where the program includes coursework in anatomy, medical terminology and legal healthcare issues.

Though formal accreditation is not required, the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (ACCP) offers voluntary accreditation for medical transcription programs. Completion of an ACCP-approved program is required sometimes in order to receive certification.

Medical transcriptionists who have recently graduated a medical transcription educational program or have less than 2 years of experience in acute care can become a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT). In order to become a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), one have less than 2 years experience in acute care using different dictation and form types in many surgery areas.

Certification requirements for RMTs and CMTs require a fee, while RMTs must earn 30 continuing education credits and CMTs have 3 years to complete an online course and final exam.

Due to evolving medicine, medical transcriptionists are encouraged to constantly update their skills.

RMTs who graduated from an ACCP-approved program can participate in the Registered Apprenticeship Program where they can gain experience from on-the-job learning and technical instruction.

Punctuation skills, listening skills, English grammar proficiency, and computer knowledge are important qualifications for a medical transcriptionist. Medical transcriptionist applicants may also be required by employers to take a pre-employment test.

Advancement for medical transcriptionists can include advancing to supervisory positions, working at home, editing, consulting, teaching, medical transcription business owners, medical records and health information technicians, medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators.

Top 10 Most Popular Medical Transcription/Transcriptionist Schools

1. College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
2. Everett Community College (Everett, Washington)
3. Delta College - University (University Center, Michigan)
4. Davenport University, Lettinga (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
5. National College (Multiple Campus Locations)
6. West Central Technical College - Waco (Waco, Georgia)
7. Pulaski Technical College (North Little Rock, Arkansas)
8. Minnesota State Community & Technical College, Fergus Falls (Fergus Falls, Minnesota)
9. Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Walker County (Rock Spring, Georgia)
10. Harrison College (Multiple Campus Locations)

See All Medical Transcription/Transcriptionist Schools

Most Popular Online Medical Transcription/Transcriptionist Schools

1. Purdue University Global
2. Ashworth College - Online School

Employment and Job Outlook for Medical Transcriptionists

Number of People in Profession


Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average (increase 7 - 13%).

Out of the 82,810 jobs held by medical transcriptionists, 36 percent work in hospitals while 23 percent work in physicians’ offices.

Due to a growing and aging population who regularly require medical tests, procedures, and treatments, there will be more jobs available for medical transcriptionists. The growing need for electronic documentation that can easily be shared with consumers and providers will also contribute to the job increase.

Even though speech recognition technology has become increasingly popular, mistakes are still made in the process and recquire medical transcriptionists to edit and fix such mistakes.

Earnings and Salary for Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists earn median hourly wages of $15.68. The middle 50 percent earn between $13.09 and $18.76. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $10.78, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $21.97.

Hourly Wage for Medical Transcriptionists

On average, Medical Transcriptionists earn $15.68 per hour.

10% 25% 75% 90% $10.78 $13.09 $18.76 $21.97

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook