Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, and More
A home typist or word processor type documents from their home office, frequently using audio files as the source. These home-based jobs cover many types of transcription — from micro jobs in data entry to specializations that require additional training such as medical transcription.
Not every type of transcriptionist job is suitable for at-home work; for instance, court reporting is usually done on-site. However, the skills developed in on-site situations can be valuable in gaining some of the lucrative home-based work such as real-time transcription and captioning.
Home Typist Duties & Responsibilities
The home typist and word processing jobs usually require the ability to do the following work:
- Communicate with the client or employer using various means, including phone, video conference, email, and chat.
- Use a computer or word processor to type correspondence, forms, reports, or other types of material from rough draft, corrected copy, or voice recordings.
- Proofread finished work and correct errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation before submission to the client or employer.
- Print and make copies of work.
- Electronically transmit work to other locations.
- File and store completed documents.
Home Typist Salary
Typist and transcriptionist compensation varies based on the client or employer, industry or area of expertise, and level of experience. Home typists are usually paid per piece or by the hour, although some may be paid per audio minute or per word.
- Median Wages: $19.11/hour
- Top 10% Wages: More than $27.93/hour
- Bottom 10% Wages: Less than $13.02/hour
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2018
Important: Home typists must also factor in additional costs for a desktop or laptop computer, word processing software, internet service, ergonomically designed keyboard and chair, time-tracking software, an online or paper dictionary, income taxes, health insurance, and, for audio transcribers, headphones, transcription software, and a transcription foot pedal for hands-free audio control.
Education, Training, & Certification
It’s helpful to have had at least two years of on-site experience, but most home-based transcription jobs don’t require post-secondary education or special certification. However, for medical transcription jobs, certification or advanced training may be needed, depending on the client’s or employer’s requirements.
Training in the fundamentals of office software is helpful for any home typist, especially those who are reentering the field after several years. Some work-at-home scams are dressed up to look like online training, so be wary of any job posting that tries to sell classes.
- Basic Classes: Local vocational schools and community colleges offer typing and English grammar courses for those who need a refresher course or need additional training. There are also free online courses offered by organizations such as Alison that offer courses in touch typing, the fundamentals of English grammar, and more.
- Medical Transcription Certification and/or Advanced Training: Obtaining certification or advanced training in medical transcription is optional but is likely to help when searching for clients. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI)offers two types of certificates for medical transcriptionists and approves programs that provide advanced training in the field, for example, Ivy Tech’s Medical Transcription Editor program.
Home Typist Skills & Competencies
A number of skills and traits are crucial to your becoming a successful home typist:
- Computer skills: Knowing how to do more with a computer than using word processing software is necessary for the home typist. This job also requires the ability to install new software, log on to a company’s system remotely, upload files, and troubleshoot home computer and connectivity issues.
- Fast and accurate typing skills: Typing speed for different types of typing and transcription job may vary considerably. For example, a speed as low as 60 words per minute may be sufficient for an entry-level data-entry job, whereas real-time transcription or at-home captioning jobs may require speeds of up to 300 words per minute.
- Good hearing and listening skills: The ability to understand accents is important when speaking with a client or transcribing audio files.
- Proofreading skills: Knowledge of proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar is a must when finalizing a project or emailing a client.
- Communication skills: Whether composing a memo, writing a proposal, or talking with a client over chat or video conference, at-home typists need to express ideas and directions clearly and succinctly.
- Organizing/prioritizing skills, self-discipline, and focus: At-home typists don’t have a boss that tells them what to do and when to do it. It’s important to work smart, be organized and disciplined, and tenaciously hone in on the project that’s due, rather than perusing upcoming work, checking on sports scores and weather forecasts, or getting bogged down in social media.
- Ability to maintain confidentiality: Keeping client information secure and confidential is critical, especially when sensitive data, such as patient information, is involved.
According to the BLS, word processors and typists are among the fastest-declining occupations, along with data entry keyers and computer operators. During the period 2016–2026, the number of jobs is expected to decrease by 24,800 or 33 percent because of advances in technology and the proliferation of outsourcing. Medical transcription employment is projected to decline as well but at a much slower rate of 3 percent over the 2016–2026 period.
On the other hand, the booming freelance or gig economy, more than 53 million Americans strong as of 2015 according to the BLS, could be an advantage to home typists and transcribers. As a member of the gig economy, these occupations are in a position to snag typing and transcribing gigs that were once done in-house by employees.
Transcribers or typists who work from home spend most of their work time sitting in front of a computer in a home office or another area set up for work such as a kitchen table.
Home typists are often hired as freelancers or independent contractors, although there may be opportunities for temporary employment or on-site freelance work. Some companies post available work for their contractors to claim on a first come, first served basis.
Home medical transcriptionists typically work for transcription-service companies that provide services to health care establishments.
Home typists work flexible hours but many keep a regular schedule that offers flexibility for last-minute rush projects and home emergencies. Many set work hours that suit the needs of clients and start at the same time every day.
Home typists also schedule a time to take a short break every few hours to walk around and stretch, and only take on as much work as they can realistically handle.
How to Get the Job
FIND A GIG AND APPLY FOR IT
Network with friends, family members, and associates and ask for introductions to potential clients. Check out resources such as Upwork, Indeed, and Flexjobsto build a client base.
PREP FOR SKILL TESTS
Potential clients generally use skill tests as an initial screening tool. Improve typing speed and accuracy skills with free typing tests and practice files for transcriptionists.
ACE THE INTERVIEW
Be ready to field interview questions from potential clients.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in working from home as a typist or transcriptionist also explore these freelance opportunities. Here’s a list of similar jobs, along with the median annual salary:
- Editor: $59,480
- Graphic Designer: $50,370
- Photographer: $34,000