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Medical Transcriptionist Job Description

Medical transcription is one of the allied health professions, careers that support medical personnel in their work. Medical transcriptionists listen to recordings of doctors describing their patients’ cases, and they turn these spoken reports into organized and accurate printed reports. To do their jobs well, they must possess a solid grasp of both spoken and written English, understand medical terminology, and be competent in current transcription technologies. Good hearing is essential for success in this field, as is the ability to concentrate and pay close attention to detail.
Most transcriptionists work full time in offices and can rely on a predictable workflow. However, some freelance and home-based transcriptionists may work irregular hours, determined by the pace of assignments that come to them. Further, some workers are compensated not on an hourly basis but are instead paid by the line.

Medical Transcriptionist Duties

  • Listen to and transcribe voice recordings
  • Supply full terms for abbreviations
  • Edit for accuracy and sense
  • Submit written reports to doctors

Alternate Job Titles

Depending on the workplace, a medical transcriptionist may be known by known by one of a number of other titles, including medical secretary, a documentation specialist, or a medical language specialist.

How To Become A Medical Transcriptionist

Most medical transcriptionists complete a program of study that familiarizes them with the relevant terminology and teaches them the skills they need to work quickly and accurately. However, some people enter the field more indirectly, often from another one of the allied health professions or nursing. Less often, entry-level jobs require only a high school diploma.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Transcriptionist?

If a worker undertakes a course of study in medical transcription, he may begin working within one or two years. Becoming a medical transcriptionist by way of on-the-job training in a related field, however, could take many more years.

Education Requirements

A certificate can be useful in finding work as a medical transcriptionist. Frequently, these are offered through one-year programs at community colleges and vocational schools. Online transcription certificates are common. Some schools offer two-year associate’s degrees in medical transcription as well. Not all medical transcription programs are accredited; those that receive their accreditation from the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).
The training of medical transcriptionists teaches them the correct use and spelling of medical terminology, some legal terminology, basic anatomy, and grammar. In some cases, programs provide supervised on-the-job training.


While certification as a medical transcriptionist is voluntary, some employers prefer to hire workers who have earned it. Certification may require that the candidate graduate from an accredited program. The AHDI administers exams for two certifications: Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT). The RMT is the certification sought by those new to the industry and for those whose work involves a single type of medical practice. The CMT, on the other hand, is the more advanced certification. It is meant for medical transcriptionists who have been on the job for two years or more, or who work within a variety of specialties. Earning an RMT is a prerequisite for a CMT.


There is no licensing requirement to work as a medical transcriptionist in any state.

Job Outlook

The BLS predicts that jobs in this industry will grow around 6.5% over the coming decade, which is a bit slower than the average. Technological advances, such as speech-recognition software, have increased the efficiency of the medical transcriptionist, so that a single worker can do now what once required several workers. Further, some employers have moved transcription jobs offshore, taking advantage of the lower costs required by overseas workers. However, the practiced listening and editing skills of experienced transcriptionists are expected to retain much of their value. Detailed Medical Transcriptionist salary data is available here.

States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
California $21.52 $44,770 4,600 .32
Texas $16.13 $33,550 4,590 .43
Pennsylvania $16.01 $33,310 4,520 .81
Florida $15.17 $31,550 4,170 .57
New York $17.89 $37,200 3,910 .46


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