Medical Transcriptionists: 9 Surprising Truths to Know Now

medical transcriptionists use voice technology

Medical transcriptionists also called healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings from healthcare professionals and convert them into written reports.

They also review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology.

Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations as they prepare medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.

This occupation is conventional and realistic, meaning it’s for people who want to work within established systems and doesn’t have a lot of social interaction.

Other Job Titles for Medical Transcriptionists

  • Clinical Medical Transcriptionist
  • Documentation Specialist
  • Medical Language Specialist
  • Medical Secretary
  • Medical Transcriber
  • Medical Transcription
  • Medical Transcription Supervisor
  • Medical Transcriptionist
  • Radiology Transcriptionist
  • Transcriptionist

1. Medical Transcriptionists Must Listen and Interpret.

Medical transcriptionists listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other healthcare worker.

They must focus and transcribe the information into patient histories, exam notes, operative reports, referral letters, discharge summaries, and other documents.

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2. Attention to Detail is Their Superpower.

Medical transcriptionists review and edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software.

They have to make sure that the transcription is correct, complete, and consistent in style. This means the document has:

  • Medical abbreviations and jargon written into the appropriate long form
  • No inconsistencies, errors, and missing information within a report that could compromise patient care.
  • Been reviewed and approved by the physician.
  • Been entered into the electronic health records (EHR) systems

3. Speech Recognition Technology Has Streamlined the Transcription Process.

Traditionally, medical transcriptionists used audio playback equipment to listen to an entire dictation in order to produce a transcribed report.

Now medical documents can be prepared using speech recognition technology. software such as  Crescendo Systems DigiScribe-XL, g-net solutions MTP, Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking Medical and Zydocs.

The software prepares the initial draft.

Then the transcriptionist listens to the voice file and reviews the draft for accuracy.

Transcriptionists use word-processing and other specialized software to prepare the transcripts, as well as medical reference materials when needed.

4. You Have to Know Medical Terms.

  • Medical transcriptionists must be familiar with:
  • medical terminology
  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • diagnostic procedures
  • pharmacology
  • treatment assessments
  • EHR systems
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5. Most Medical Transcriptionists Work in Administrative and Support Services.

Of the 55,780 jobs in 2019, a third of these professionals worked in administrative and support services.

About a quarter of them worked in doctors’ offices. This job is a popular option for people looking for work from home jobs.

Administrative and support services33%
Offices of physicians23%
Hospitals; state, local, and private21%
Self-employed workers6%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories2%

Most medical transcriptionists work full time.

Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and/or may have some flexibility in determining their schedules.

Their work can be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate within a quick turnaround time.

6. How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Transcriptionist? About 1 Year.

Medical transcriptionists have to know medical terminology.

It takes about a year to get certified as a transcriptionist. Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have earned a certificate through vocational schools, community colleges or online.

Programs normally include coursework in:

  • anatomy
  • medical terminology
  • risk management
  • legal issues relating to healthcare documentation
  • English grammar and punctuation

Is This a Good Job Fit for You?


7. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity Offers 2 Certifications.

Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) certifications.

Both certifications require passing an exam and periodic retesting or continuing education.

The RHDS certification is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor’s office.

The CHDS certification is for transcriptionists who hold the RHDS designation.

In addition, CHDS candidates must have at least 2 years of acute care experience, including experience handling dictation in various medical specialties.

To maintain certification, medical transcriptionists must complete continuing education requirements every 3 years.

8. Medical Transcriptionists Make Pretty Good Money.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all medical transcriptionists made more than $33,380 in May 2019. The average salary of medical transcriptionists is $35,210 for 2019.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,260.

2019 Medical Transcriptionist Median Salaries by State

State/ Area #
New Jersey970$42,620
New Mexico**$39,180
North Dakota260$36,690
South Dakota450$35,760
South Carolina660$35,580
New Hampshire260$35,450
Rhode Island180$33,830
West Virginia390$33,380
New York2,700$30,840
District of Columbia80$29,440
Puerto Rico140$27,830
North Carolina1,340$27,430

9. Employment is on the Decline, But These Are the Top Companies

Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 3 percent from 2018 to 2028. Technological advances have changed the way medical transcription is done.

Speech recognition and electronic health records (EHR) software advances often allow physicians to create some of this documentation in the moment, reducing the need for transcriptionists.

As healthcare providers seek to cut costs, some will contract out transcription services and not do transcription in-house.

Top Companies That Hire Medical Transcriptionists With Job Listings.

  1. Medical Transcription Billing Corp
  2. Nuance Transcription Services
  3. Spheris
  4. Mmodal (formerly Medquist)
  5. SoftScript, Inc.
  6. Transcend Services, Inc.
  7. Keystrokes

Is a Medical Transcriptionist a Good Job?

The definition of a good job is subjective. This job fits some people more than others. Here’s what what you need to know to determine if this career is a good fit for you.

O*NET Interest Profiler Results

If your O-NET Interest Profiler results listed conventional as the primary interest and realistic second, a job as a medical transcriptionist could appeal to you. See other conventional jobs.

You can learn more about the free career test here. 

According to O*NET Interest Profiler categories, conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines.

These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.

They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

This job appeals to people who want an established system to work within with little need for creativity or creating a new course.

16 Personalities Match 


ISTPs are motivated by a desire to achieve and use their technical expertise. They want to deal with the tangible and love to built something concrete.

Although some ISTPs don’t want to be stuck behind a desk, being a medical transcriptionist gives them the flexibility they crave.

ISTPs value efficiency and logic, and want flexibility in their work.

This form of introvert learns quickly and completes tasks on time and they like to work as part of a team.

Don’t know your personality type? You can take a free personality test at 16Personalities.

Medical Transcriptionist Resume Examples

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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