Work from Home as a Transcription Typist – What Do I Need?

We have been involved in digital dictation and transcription for nearly ten years now and something that has remained as a constant during that time is the need for transcription typists. Not much has really changed over the years other than the fact that we are now fully digital and gone are the days of tiny micro cassettes with poor audio quality. We still have the trusty transcription foot pedal for audio playback control but the clunking of the physical tape player has been replaced by software. Digital dictation not only offers much clearer audio quality but unchains the transcriptionist from the needing to always be at the office, high quality digital dictation can be sent across the internet via email or collected from your office network via a VPN connection.

What about voice recognition software like Dragon, isn’t that replacing transcription typists? Well in short no. For sure Dragon is helping reduce companies transcription costs and streamlining and even speeding up the voice to text process but there is still a place for transcription typists in the Dragon workflow, people are still required to proofread and format the text transcribed by Dragon and transcriptionists are perfectly placed to embrace this challenge and at the same time add to their skill. We wrote about this in an earlier blog Transcription Typists Tame The Dragon, Don’t Fear It

Also, Dragon will only convert voice to text for one single speaker. It will not transcribe meetings or interviews (click here for our blog post on Dragon and meetings or interviews). Without fail on a daily basis we are asked if Dragon can be used for multiple speaker audio and this isn’t a new thing, we have been asked this for years. I’m sure Nuance, the world leaders in voice-to-text Dragon software, have been working on this but still it is not yet possible. What is the solution? A transcription typist.

Yes but aren’t all businesses going overseas for their transcription as it is so much cheaper? Yes that is definatly happening particularly with small businesses with tight budget constraints. But many medium to large businesses prefer a) to keep their audio in country and b) don’t mind paying extra for high quality transcribed documents. Remember it is not just the turnaround speed for a document that is important it also needs to be of high quality.

If I start a business as a work from home transcription typist how will I find work? Many work from home transcriptionists start by working for perhaps a previous employer, maybe a doctor or law firm, who may need occasional overflow work. If that is not viable then applying to work for an established transcription business is a great way to start. There are Pros and Cons for this approach.


  • You are paid directly by the transcription company
  • You don’t have the hassle of chasing clients for payments
  • Usually there is regular work
  • You don’t have to find the clients
  • It is a great way to learn a transcription business process
  • It is a great way to hone your transcription skills with a variety of audio types from single to multiple speaker audio from a range of business areas like medical, legal, media etc.
  • You get to work from home and if it suits work in your pyjamas every day


  • The rate of pay will be less than if you had your own clients
  • You will be expected to perform, be honest about your skills up-front and only promise what you know you can achieve

What do I need to get started? Apart from the obvious PC or Mac, your preferred word processing software (usually Microsoft Word on Windows and PC) and most importantly a good transcription kit.

What is a transcription kit? A kit comprises all you need to become a transcription typist. It includes a USB foot control for audio stop/play/rewind, a transcription headset to plus into your computer to listen to the audio and most importantly the transcription software. Transcription software will   be the most important part of your decision to become a transcription typist. And choosing the right software can save you a lot of time as well as to show how professional you are.

Digital audio will usually come in a couple of audio formats. Typically for meetings and interviews the audio format will be in either .WMA or .MP3 audio formats. For single speaker dictation, things like letters, notes and insurance assessment reports will come in a format called .ds2 (or sometimes an older .dss) audio format. This format was created by Olympus, Philips and Grundig to meet a couple of key needs. 1) Highly compress the audio so that the file size is small without losing audio quality. Small files can be sent across the internet easily and quickly and generally via email. Larger .WMA or .MP3 files tend to be larger and can not be sent via email. 2) for confidential audio, again usually legal and medical dictation, when sending across the public internet the audio must be encrypted to ensure the integrity of what has been recorder. This means only the dictator and the transcription typist can decryption and listen to the audio.

Express Scribe or Olympus AS-7000 ? Express Scribe is a free (or cheap if you upgrade) transcription software available from a company now owned and run out of the USA. It used to be a small company based in Canberra but was sold to the US. Scribe does not come with a foot pedal or headset, these can be purchased separately but key are 1) Scribe does not support the .ds2 audio format (the standard for all professional digital dictaphones) and 2) support is non existent, you are on you own with any issues. The Olympus AS-7000 transcription kit is used all over the work by professional transcription typists. Sure it is a little more expensive than Express Scribe but it will transcribe .ds2, .dss, .wma, .wav and .mp3 audio files. It will handle decryption, it will automatically load audio from your email or shared network drive, it will show you the priority of transcriptions and it will help automate the transcription workflow. Plus it comes complete with a transcription headset and USB foot pedal.

Express Scribe - Does Not Support ds2 Audio Files

If you are serious about being a transcription typist then the Olympus AS-7000 should be your kit of choice. Please if you have any questions please post a comment and we will answer them.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.