Medical transcriptionist transcribes recorded audio from physicians and healthcare professionals into a written or typed document. Many of them work from home as freelance agents or for agencies. There are other scenarios such as those that work in hospitals or large practices but more and more of them work from home today.
Practically everyone has high-speed internet and a laptop these days. Those are the only tools you need to get set up and start transcribing. Well, it’s not that easy because you’ll need a little more education and some training, but you get the idea. Beware of your family if you choose to work from home. They won’t understand or respect your office hours.
Working as a Medical Transcriptionist
The idea of working from home in your pajamas may seem appealing, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to be a self-starter. That means getting up and maintaining regular home office hours and forcing yourself to get the job done. When there’s no boss or supervisor watching you, it’s easy to procrastinate. It sounds simple, but it’s not a job everyone can do easily.
Like we mentioned above, some medical transcriptionist works for hospitals or in large medical practices. Some others work for agencies and have to maintain regular office hours. However, the industry has seen a lot of people migrate from the office to working in their living rooms. Some employers don’t require full-time office hours, so their medical transcriptionist work from home and the office.
If you have the discipline for it, it’s an excellent job for people that live in remote areas or large cities where commuting is either a long drive or a nightmare of fighting traffic and other commuters. That’s assuming you’re working as a freelancer or your employer allows you to work from home. There’s no set rule on when this is acceptable, so ask during the interview or start your own transcribing company.
Whether you work from your couch or in an office, the job has some demanding responsibilities, and your attention to detail will get tested. Unlike the job description from two decades ago which was mostly just transcribing audio, the job duties of a typical medical transcriptionist have expanded to meet other needs.
Examples of typical job duties include:
- Performing quality improvement audits based on the materials you’re given
- Entering medical data directly into an electronic health records system or EMR
- Working with physicians to ensure health records are accurate
- Following up with healthcare providers
- Listening to dictation and transcribing it
- Transcribing data into reports for providers
- Reviewing and editing documents created using speech recognition software
- Translating medical jargon, lingo, and terminology into their formal versions
- Adhere to strict patient confidentiality rules and laws such as HIPPA
Technology is rapidly changing the way we use and store data. Speech recognition software developers are working harder than ever to improve their products to the point of near perfection. While this may seem like a bad thing for medical transcriptionist, it’s actually a good thing. It reduces your workload since the software is highly accurate but doesn’t pose a threat since it’ll always need to get verified.
How Much Money Does a Medical Transcriptionist Make?
We pulled our data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data is two years old as of this writing, and all indicators suggest the pay should be slightly higher now and increasing in the future. There were around 60,000 medical transcriptionists in 2017 which was roughly three percent lower than the previous year. That isn’t an indication of fewer jobs.
Advances in technology and freelancers working more extended hours are the most likely causes for the slight decrease in the number of medical transcriptionists. Technology like speech recognition reduced the workload and, in some cases, allows one person to do the job of five people. However, that scenario is working under ideal circumstances with a routine workload.
The median medical transcriptionist salary is $35,250. Since the data is two years old that number may be five percent higher today. Hourly rates for medical transcriptionist range from $16.95 per hour to $28.65 per hour. The median salary of $35,250 is based on an hourly rate of $16.95. In some parts of the country that’s not enough money to live comfortably without some type of roommate.
However, since many of the positions available are freelance jobs or part-time jobs that allow you to work from home, it’s possible to work as a medical transcriptionist as a side job while working another full-time job. We’re assuming a lot with that statement since many people don’t want to work 16-hour days and weekends. You need a break and some time for yourself or your family.
There are some skills you might acquire that may affect your salary as a medical transcriptionist. We’re not saying they will, but in most cases specializing in a medical field helps you find a job and get paid more money. Specialties you may want to consider include:
Medical transcriptionists that work in those specialty areas of medicine tend to earn more. However, it’s a gamble on your part if you want to try your hand at specializing. Some schools offer courses aimed at specializing you, but it’s usually easier, and better, to pick up that knowledge in the field. Employers want you to work well with their team, not the cookie cutter scenarios you learned in school.
If you do a little digging on some of the favorite job boards online, you’ll see a ton of jobs for medical transcriptionist. Go through some of the listings and look for anything that appeals to you or sounds like something you might enjoy beyond the regular job description. Look for descriptions like acute care medical transcriptionist or oncology medical scribe to find better-paying jobs.
Other than those highly subjective ideas or assumptions, the rate of pay follows the typical form. Entry-level medical transcriptionists can expect to earn around 11 percent less than someone with two years of experience. Someone with five or more years of experience may make 10 to 15 percent more than the median salary. The employer and your skills may affect those percentages in good or bad ways.
Should I Become a Medical Transcriptionist? How?
Let’s answer those questions in reverse. You’ll need some higher education to get a job as a medical transcriptionist. The position requires that you understand grammar, physiology, medical terminology, and anatomy. You just cannot do the job without that knowledge. You need a firm grasp on all four of those things to be good at it.
Most technical schools and some colleges offer a course on medical transcription. Check with your local college or technical school to see what they offer. The classes usually award a certificate or diploma and rarely take more than a year to attain. If your local schools don’t have a course on it, there are plenty of accredited online schools that offer a medical transcription program.
As we mentioned before, the number of medical transcriptionists is declining. Technology is making the job easier and allowing one person to do the work of several people. That doesn’t mean you should look into a career or part-time career as a medical transcriptionist; it just means you need to get your foot in the door now. The number or transcriptionist is expected to decline by five percent within ten years.
The job offers a few benefits that other positions can’t like working for anyone on the planet from your living room. However, unlike a local job with only a dozen applicants, opportunities working from home as a medical transcriptionist might have 100 or more people applying for it. It’s hard for us to make any judgment calls on that part, so you’ll need to tackle that problem job by job.
A medical transcriptionist’s salary is not among the highest, but if you get to work from home, it may save you money in the long run. People spend 11 to 28 percent of their annual salary on car payments, insurance, fuel, bus passes, and other methods of commuting to work. You can avoid those expenses by working from home.
Remember our warning, don’t pursue a job working from home if you have a problem with procrastination. You’ll probably work more extended hours if freelance compared to someone that works as a medical transcriptionist in an office. It may seem like a dream job because you don’t have to get dressed to go to work, but it comes with a whole new set of problems like self-motivation or a lack of it.
You’ve got all the information you need to make a decision. We urge you to do some research locally or contact anyone you might consider working for in the future, make sure those jobs will be available and find out if they offer any incentive plans. In spite of the falling number of medical transcriptionists, some companies are having a hard time finding good ones.