Medical Transcriptionists


Medical transcriptionists listen to dictated recordings made by physicians and other healthcare professionals and transcribe them into medical reports, correspondence, and other administrative material.


The documents they produce include discharge summaries, medical history and physical examination reports, operative reports, consultation reports, autopsy reports, diagnostic-imaging studies, progress notes, and referral letters.


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Medical transcriptionists return transcribed documents to the physicians or other healthcare professionals who dictated them for review and signature or correction. These documents eventually become part of patients’ permanent files.

Where They Work:

The majority of these workers are employed in comfortable settings, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, transcription service offices, clinics, laboratories, medical libraries, government medical facilities, or their own homes. Many medical transcriptionists telecommute from home-based offices.

While many medical transcriptionists work a standard 40-hour week, self-employed medical transcriptionists are more likely to work irregular hours—including part time, evenings, and weekends.

How Much They Earn:

Wage-and-salary medical transcriptionists had median hourly wages of $15.41 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.02 and $18.55. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.76, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.81.


  Compensation arrangements for medical transcriptionists vary.   Some are paid on the basis of the number of hours they work or the number of lines they transcribe. Others receive a base pay per hour, with incentives for extra production.

Independent contractors often earn more than do transcriptionists who work for others, but independent contractors have higher expenses than their corporate counterparts, receive no benefits, and may face a higher risk of termination than do wage-and-salary transcriptionists.

Education & Certification:

Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary training in medical transcription offered by many vocational schools (like the Penn Foster Career School), community colleges, and distance-learning programs, like Future MT Inc.

Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some transcriptionists, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nurse or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.

The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) awards two voluntary designations: Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).

Because medicine is constantly evolving, medical transcriptionists are encouraged to update their skills regularly. In order to be recertified, RMTs and CMTs must earn a minimum of 30 continuing education credits in required categories during their 3-year cycle. CMTs must successfully complete an online course and final exam during the 3-year cycle.

As in many other fields, certification is recognized as a sign of competence.

In addition to understanding medical terminology, transcriptionists must have good English grammar and punctuation skills and proficiency with personal computers and word-processing software. Normal hearing acuity and good listening skills also are necessary.

With experience, medical transcriptionists can advance to supervisory positions, home-based work, editing, consulting, or teaching.

Some become owners of medical transcription businesses.

With additional education or training, some become medical records and health information technicians, medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators.