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Job Profile: Home Typist

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Young woman wearing headset using computer
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Job Description:

A home typist (or transcriptionist) types up documents from his or her home office, typically using audio files as the source. However, that's not quite enough of a job description because these home-based jobs can cover many types of transcription jobs — everything from "microjobs" in data entry to specializations that require additional training, such as medical transcription. Also, not every kind of typist job is as likely to home-based; for instance court reporting isn't.

Skills/Experience/Education:

Skills
Obviously fast and accurate typing skills are an important requirement, but how fast may vary considerably — with low-end data entry jobs accepting home typists with speeds as low as 60 wpm (and paying them at the low end as well) and realtime transcription jobs, or captioning from home, requiring speeds as much as 300 wpm.

In addition, good hearing and listening skills and the ability to understand accents are important when transcribing audio files. Knowledge of proper spelling, punctuation and grammar is a must, and computer skills, beyond simply using word processing software, are necessary for the home typist, who may have to install new software, log on to a company's system remotely, upload files, troubleshoot issues with his or her own computer, etc.

Experience
As with most work-at-home jobs, companies typically prefer to hire home-based typists with on-site experience; often two years are required. However, since some companies pay based solely on the typist's output, these may be willing to take on a beginner, but the pay is low.

Education
Most transcription jobs do not require post-secondary education or special certification, the exceptions being medical transcription and court reporting. However, classes and training in office software may be helpful. Keep in mind, though, that some work-at-home scams can be dressed up to look like online training, so be wary of any job posting that tries to sell you classes.

Type/Length of Employment:

Transcribers are commonly hired as independent contractors, but some companies may hire them as employees. The more skills and education the job requires (e.g. medical transcription, captioning) the more likely it is an employment position. Independent contractors may be hired for temporary jobs during peak periods. Some companies will post available work for its contractors to accept on a first-come-first served basis.

Compare employment vs. independent contracting.

Equipment:

Most companies that hire home typists, whether as employees or contractors, require the transcriptionist supply some or all of this equipment or services:
  • Internet access, usually high speed
  • Computer (Some may require it be a PC and/or have a certain operating system.)
  • Transcription software
  • Food pedal to control audio
  • Headphones

Where to Find Work as a Home Typist:

Compensation:

Similar to how data entry jobs pay, transcription is very often paid at a per-piece rate, even for employees. However, employees must be paid at least minimum wage.

The "piece" that transcription pay rates are based on may be per page, per audio minute or per word; for example rates might be $.005 (or a half a cent) per word. The hourly rate that this will work out to may vary based not only on you skill and stamina but on the difficulty of the work.

Hiring Process:

Some companies may require skill tests during the hiring process. These tests are usually for more than just speed, but test accuracy, grammar, spelling and comprehension.

Schedule Flexibility/Child Care Arrangement:

This varies from company to company. Some home typing jobs will absolutely require that you have child care for children not old enough to care for themselves. These are often the jobs that require a quick turnaround or are realtime transcription or captioning. However, many typing jobs have very flexible schedules, and you may not "need" childcare, though you may actually earn more if you are not interrupted by the needs of children.

Related Definitions:

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