What could be better than a gig that lets you earn money in the comfort of your OWN home on your OWN schedule? If you have a computer, a reliable internet connection, and are skilled at typing, then audio transcription gigs may be just the right gig for you!
Unlike side gigs like Uber where you have to pick up strangers or drive around town all day, audio transcription gigs are something that can be done without ever getting off the couch. This makes them IDEAL if you are a student, retiree, or just someone looking to pick up some extra money in you free time on nights and weekends.
Below I’ve compiled a quick start guide to earning money with audio transcription gigs including what information you need to get started and what types of companies there are to sign-up with.
This post contains affiliate links. When you click on the links and sign-up for gigs or purchase products I may receive compensation.
What is Audio Transcription?
This might seem like a silly question, but it can be important to consider the variety of situations that audio transcription might be used for. Take note that audio transcription is different than audio captioning and typically does not include an accompanying video.
Audio transcription is the act of transcribing the words and sounds in an audio recording. This can be done for a vast array of reasons. It could be to assist the hearing impaired or just used for record-keeping purposes, for example.
Some reporters and news agencies will make audio recordings of interviews they’ve conducted and then assemble audio transcriptions than can easily be copied and pasted into an article. Churches might keep transcribed versions of their pastor’s sermons to post on their website, or marketing agencies might save audio transcriptions of focus groups they’ve conducted.
Listening to long audio recordings and deciphering each and every word spoken plus doing things such as denoting which person is speaking or if there is any background noise can be a very tedious process. Thus, for those with experience with audio transcription it can be a marketable, and in some cases highly profitable, skill.
While some companies may hire full-time employees as audio transcriptionists, a growing number of companies offer audio transcription services that are fueled by a team of stay-at-home, independent contractors who work on their own schedules.
Do You Need Special Equipment to Do Audio Transcription?
In some cases, yes. Especially if you really want to get serious about making some extra money with audio transcription and turning it into a regular gig. Don’t fret, however, because as long as you’ve got a computer or laptop with a keyboard that is sufficient to get started with several different companies that offer transcription gigs.
Besides a computer, a common requirement is a foot pedal. Wait a minute, you might say to yourself, why do I need a pedal to type? WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?!
Let me explain… a foot pedal allows you to easily start and stop the audio, which is important because ANY breaks in time will result in strain on your hands as you constantly rush between the keyboard and mouse every few seconds. It also results in lost productivity, which in turns means less MONEY (and no one likes that).
The pedal works by plugging into the USB port on your computer. When you use special transcription software, it will pause or play the audio whenever you hit the pedal. Your work flow will consist of listening to the audio for a few seconds, hitting the pedal to type, hitting the pedal again to listen, hitting the pedal to type and so on.
Another requirement is audio transcription software. Some companies (like Rev) have their own software, while others will require you to purchase third-party software.
Below are links to some common items that might be required for audio transcription:
What Skills Are Required to Do Audio Transcription?
Knowing how to type in and of itself is not enough- you must be able to type FAST. Most transcription companies pay per audio hour, NOT by the hours you work. Keep in mind that you are going to constantly stop and start the audio as you type so it will take more much longer than an hour to transcribe one audio hour.
Thus, to actually make some good money you will need to be a fast typer (think AT LEAST 60 to 80 words per minute). To see the speed at which you type, you can take a test here.
You also must be a great listener. You’ll sometimes need to distinguish voices from multiple speakers, understand difficult accents or hear over muffled audio and background noise. This is why it is highly important to use headphones when you listen to the audio and work in a noise-free environment.
What Are Some Gigs I Can Try?
This company claims to have “the industry’s best rates” with payments that start at $20 per audio hour. They are a little bit different from the other companies in that the audio files they receive are split up into chunks and worked on by different transcriptionists.
Transcriptionists with TranscribeMe! get completely flexible hours and because the audio clips are split up into “micro-tasks” that makes it easy to get some work done even if you only have a few minutes available.
They claim to offer “growth and learning opportunities” and promote from within, so it could be something that could help further develop your resume over time. Like the other companies mentioned, you must pass an assessment to become a transcriptionist with TranscribeMe!
Transcriptionists with TranscribeMe! can request payments through Paypal at any time, and receive payment for all work completed on a weekly basis.
This is a company that I’ve profiled previously on my YouTube channel. Rev hires both audio transcriptionists and people that do video captions. The type of gig you’ll be offered depends on what you apply for.
Audio transcriptionists with Rev get to choose their own hours and are paid per audio minute ($0.45 to $0.65/min. to be exact). Payments are processed weekly via Paypal.
You don’t need any special equipment to become an audio transcriptionist, although a headset or a foot pedal wouldn’t hurt. There’s an assessment that you must pass in order to get approved to work with Rev.
Once you have a little more experience under your belt, you can officially become a “Revver” and earn 25% more per audio minute, so you are rewarded for putting in the effort and sticking with it after you first sign up.
For transcriptionists with some experience under their belt, this could be a good choice. They offer home-based work with completely flexible scheduling. Please note that they do require that you have experience with transcription software that you MUST purchase yourself. They also “highly recommend” using a foot pedal.
They don’t post specific details on their pay rates but specify that they offer DAILY payments through Paypal. If you are interested in doing work with transcribe.com you can either be an Audio Transcriptionist or a Transcription Editor who reviews the work from other transcriptionists.
To become a transcriptionist with Transcribe.com you must pass their assessment. Once you are accepted in, they offer one-on-one support to guide you on your way if you have any questions.
This company is based out of Canada and offers work for contractors in North America provided they have either a U.S. or Canadian bank account. They have been in operation since 2002 and offer audio transcription services to various clients across the world.
Payments for transcriptionists are processed once a month on the 15th via direct deposit. When you are starting out with them, your pay rates can either be by the word or by the minute, depending on the project. You can expect rates that may be $0.004 per word to $0.0055 per word and $0.40 per audio minute.
They offer opportunities for advancement for experienced transcriptionists. To become a transcriptionist with AccuTranGlobal, you must type at least 70 wpm and have access to a computer that runs Windows.
3PlayMedia contracts workers to become “Transcript Editors.” In this position you will both transcribe audio as well as edit “imperfect” manuscripts using their own special transcription software. They offer positions to BOTH English and Spanish speakers, so this could be something that could benefit you if you are a fluent Spanish speaker.
All of the work the Transcript Editors do is done remotely from home and they get to choose which projects they work on, as well as when they work. You must pass an assessment to become a Transcript Editor, as well as type at a speed of at least 75 wpm. Their pay depends on the project that you’re working on, but according to their website is the equivalent of $10-$30 per hour.
This company seems to have a good reputation overall, although some commentators on Reddit have noted that it can take months to get approved after passing their assessment.
Become a Freelance Transcriptionist
Why not be your OWN boss? Transcription is a skill that can be utilized to earn money as a freelancer, particularly if you have specific skills in areas like legal transcription or medical transcription.
If you’ve picked up some work as a transcriptionist already, it might be time to take it to the next level and become a freelance transcriptionist. There are websites out there like Fivver and Upwork that let you post listings for your services (including audio transcription, amongst many other things). You can also post on local job boards or try to network with local businesses and universities.
Of course, if you decide to branch out on your own you will need your own transcription software and possibly a foot pedal. Take note that whatever expenses you have for your business could eventually be a tax write-off, though.
There are lots of great companies that offer audio transcription gigs, although there are some out there that are not so great. I tried to filter out some examples of companies that have a good reputation amongst freelancers, but always do your research before applying to a company.
In particular, be wary of companies that require you to PAY MONEY to apply.
There are also expensive training programs on the internet for audio transcriptionists that might very well offer some important information, but aren’t necessarily worth it when you consider you could learn transcription skills while YOU ARE GETTING PAID MONEY to do it.
In my opinion it’s better to apply for a gig like Rev or TranslateMe! that doesn’t require previous experience and learn as you go than pay hundreds of dollars to learn about audio transcription.
If you’ve tried any of theses gigs, let me know what the experience was like down in the comment section. Thanks for reading!
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