Salary of a General Transcriptionist

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Transcriptionists listen to audio and put it into written form.
Transcriptionists listen to audio and put it into written form. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

General transcriptionists make hard-copy written documents from audio recordings and other sources. Their work is valuable for legal purposes, as well as for references and record preservation. Work in this field usually is around $15 an hour, but some experienced transcriptionists can make well above this amount, particularly if the transcription is part of other services, such as writing and editing. Additionally, the job affords advantages to those who need to work from home or who travel.

Pay by Work Type

General transcriptionists make wages that are in between what medical trancriptionists and data entry typists make, according to Transcript Divas Transcription Services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average annual wage for medical transcriptionists is $33,350, or $16.03 per hour, based on 2009 data. Data entry keyers make $28,000 annually, or $13.46 per hour. The midway point between these figures is $30,675, or about $14.75 per hour.

Pay by Typical Worker

Editors and writers do general transcription work. Thus, looking at figures for these industries also provides an estimate of what a transcriptionist may make. Editors make slightly less than writers, earning $58,440 on average annually, the equivalent of $28.10 per hour, according to the 2009 bureau information. Writers average $64,560, or $31.04 per hour. These rates reflect all work a writer or editor may do, however. They thus are not entirely representative of what someone who does only transcription might make.

Methods of Billing

General transcriptionists have different methods of billing. For instance, they may charge by the line or word, or they can charge per minute of audio transcribed. They also can charge a flat fee for an entire project. How a transcriptionist bills has some bearing on her earnings potential. Generally, transcriptionists try to bill using the same method for all clients. When this isn't possible given the sources necessary to complete a project, transcriptionists convert their typical bill method so rates are comparable and fair. However, the ability to use different billing methods creates discrepancy in estimates of earnings from one transcriptionist to the next.

Quality and Speed of Work

Most general transcriptionists are freelancers -- that is, they are self-employed individuals who work project by project. The faster a transcriptionist works, the more projects she can accept. The more projects a transcriptionist accepts, the higher her earnings will be. However, clients don't want shoddy transcriptions. The higher the quality of the transcription, the more valuable it becomes and the more a transcriptionist may charge.

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