A Day In The Life Of A Transcription Specialist

Listening, Typing And Proofreading For A Living

Earning a living as a transcriber begins with being an excellent listener!

Transcription work is incredibly varied and offers the chance to become immersed in fast-paced industries such as academic, medical, legal, media or the corporate world. Work is always diverse for a transcription specialist – here’s an insight into the daily tasks associated with the role.

The Basics Of Transcription

A transcription specialist’s day begins by receiving an audio file which might contain a recording of a speech, a conversation or just an audio guide. Ideally, the audio file would be created using high quality equipment and with minimal background noise, but every project is different and may include accents and dialects to decipher. A transcription specialist then spends time listening to the audio, and typing it word for word until the script is complete. The speed at which a script is produced depends on the individual typing speed of the specialist, but 50 words per minute would be a common average, with time-sensitive projects requiring a more rapid 65 to 75 wpm. But transcription isn’t just about speed, it’s about creating a script that is easy to read and meaningful to the reader, which can be achieved by ensuring that you’re not just hearing the audio, but that you’re really listening and are immersed in its content.

Specialist Skills

As well as having an excellent command of the English language and of course exceptional concentration skills, a professional transcription specialist will also likely have experience in at least one specialist industry, such as the medical & pharma or legal sectors. To produce a script that makes sense to medical or legal experts in a timely manner, it’s important to have an outstanding grasp of terminology related to this world. Not only will there will be abbreviations and acronyms that you’ll need to get to grips with, but other terminology may be included in your audio recording which you’ll be required to have a solid understanding of. In circumstances where the terms or places used are unknown to you, it’s important to demonstrate quick research skills so that you can get up to speed quickly.


Once an audio file has been transcribed, the next step of the process is to thoroughly proofread it to check for typos, grammatical errors, punctuation and formatting. Transcription specialists who are working as part of a team often use a second set of eyes to proofread the copy before it’s returned to the client. If you’re working on a solo project, perhaps as a transcription freelancer, then you’ll need to carry out the proofreading yourself, being meticulous with the attention to detail that your client will expect as part of the package.

Tech Comfortable

A role in transcription services relies on various tech platforms to be utilised on a daily basis. Clients often upload sensitive audio files which require encryption to keep them secure and satisfy industry regulations. A transcription specialist should be comfortable working with SSL as part of their daily tasks.

Employment Status

Many transcription specialists are freelancers, so part of the day will be spent bidding on projects, or liaising with existing clients about the current workload. Those looking for consistent work may sign up with a transcription company and receive jobs directly through them. If you are self-employed as a transcriber, then you’ll need to register for self-assessment with HMRC and be comfortable handling your tax contributions.

Transcription work requires highly skilled professionals to take on all manner of industry-specific projects. The work requires excellent focus and attention to detail but is rewarding as no two audio files are the same!