Types of Transcriptions

Different Types of Transcription





Transcription covers a wide range of different types and topics. Though they are all typing out the verbal dictation of different speakers, some types are a bit more difficult than others, thus resulting in a little bit higher pay per audio hour. Typically, the harder the audio, the higher the client will pay. So, it’s a great idea to try and get your foot in the door with one of the more difficult areas of transcription because it will increase your earnings over time.

This blog post will cover:

  • General Transcription
  • Legal Transcription
  • Medical Transcription
  • Verbatim, Edited, and Intelligent Transcription




General Transcription

Under the general category, a transcriptionist can transcribe almost any type of audio file.

The files could range from: simple dictation, interviews, lectures, phone calls, podcasts, video webinars, the list goes on. Simply, any type of audio needing transcription that is not explicitly medical or legal falls under this category.

General transcription is where I began my career as a transcriptionist. I always wanted to work from home, and this was the perfect avenue for me.

I started out with simple interviews, phone calls, and a few lectures. They were short clips, so the time it took me to complete them was relatively small.

I did general transcription for about a year and a half before I started taking on medical and legal transcription jobs. I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on the simple act of transcription before I tried to tackle a more difficult version.

In other words, general transcription is a great place to start for a new transcriptionist.



Legal Transcription

This type of transcription is a bit more difficult than general transcription, though it falls as a subcategory under general.

The audio to be transcribed can vary from depositions, court hearings, and anything else directly related to the law.

This type of transcription is a bit more serious than general transcription in terms of the difficulty of the transcribing efforts. Accuracy needs to be about 98% accurate, and often times these documents will need to be certified with an affidavit.

However, legal transcription isn’t all that difficult. The audio is professionally recorded, and typically each speaker will take turns speaking. Both of these points making your job easier!

Formatting for legal transcription can sometimes be a little difficult, but every client requires different formatting, so make sure to ask plenty of questions.

Medical Transcription

Last but certainly not least, medical transcription. This type, in my opinion, is the most difficult out of the three.

This specialization actually requires a certificate, if you are trying to get work from a direct care provider or a hospital. They have to make sure you are HIPAA certified to ensure the privacy of patients.  However, you can easily find work in the realm of medical transcription from other sources that don’t require a certificate or specific training.

The best way to start down this career path is to get smaller transcription jobs, doing phone interviews with nurses, or medical conferences. To do these, you don’t need training, and it gets your foot in the door.

Because of the necessity for accuracy, the pay for this category is a bit higher than the other two. But that also means that work you put in must be about 99-100% accurate.

Verbatim, Edited, and Intelligent Transcription

Besides the three categories of transcription, there are different formatting versions of how we transcribe audio files.

Most clients will inform you how they want their audio transcribed. Some will say that they want the file edited to remove umms, excessive ‘likes’, and any other part of the audio that does not contribute to the file itself.

First, we have verbatim. This formatting version is an explicitly word for word process for transcribing. Verbatim is the second most difficult out of the three. You have to literally copy down every single word. Even if the speakers says umm every other word.

Verbatim is the most time consuming of the three. Typically you will need to use verbatim formatting in the medical and legal transcription categories.

Second, is edited transcription formatting. This version is a bit easier than verbatim, definitely the easiest out of the three.

You as the transcriber will typically delete any umms, or other words of that nature that do not add content to the audio.

This version is also time consuming, but not so much as verbatim. The client will tell you what they want omitted, making it easier on you to transcribe the file.

This version is mainly used in general transcription concerning speeches, conferences, interviews, seminars, and dictations of that nature.

Edited is mainly used when it is not exceedingly important that every single word is recorded. As an example, you would not used edited format when doing medical or legal because often times these dictations will go onto someone’s record.

Finally, we have intelligent transcription, the most difficult format. Intelligent transcription requires the transcriber to erase any content, even whole sentences, that do not contribute to the main point of the audio.

This formatting can often take the most time because you have to decide what is important to the audio and what is excessive speech.

The transcriber does not need to include incomplete thoughts or statements, mumbled speech, or the emotion of the speaker. This can make it a bit easier, but deciding what is an incomplete thought can sometimes be difficult.

Intelligent transcription usually requires a more experienced transcriptionist, due to the level of knowledge required to convey what the speaker is trying to say.

This formatting is more about editing than is it about the actual act of transcribing. So having a wealth of knowledge concerning editing is a great deal of help here.

Considering that this version is quite a bit harder than the other two, it typically pays higher than the other two.

The best advice I can give to an aspiring transcriptionist who wants to do this job full time is to get started with general transcription that is in verbatim formatting. Get a few solid clients who give you consistent work.

Then move onto whatever area you want to investigate, whether it be legal, medical, or business focused transcriptions. Try to work your way through and find out which category interests you the most.

I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing more boring or time consuming than having to transcribe an hour long interview about something that does not interest you in the least.

All in all, transcription in its varying forms is a great job to have. Getting that first step towards the route you want to take is the most difficult.

Get started simple and small, from there, specialize in whichever area you find most interesting and engaging.

Build up a few clients with different needs so you can get a handle on all of the different categories and versions transcription has to offer.

The best thing I did when I first started transcribing full time was to explore my options and find the perfect fit for me. Do yourself that same justice, it will be fun and new every single day, and it will certainly not feel like work!