Types of Transcription

A popular work-at-home job, transcription takes many forms.

While the basic definition of transcription is to type up spoken audio (either live or recorded) into a printed form, there are many types of transcription, each of which require different levels of skill and often different equipment.

General Transcription


This is the typing up most any kind of audio recording — dictation, lectures, conference calls, phone messages, workshops, interviews, speeches, podcasts, videos, webinars, etc., in a variety of sectors such as business, media, academia and the law. There are specializations within general transcription, but these do not require any specific training or certification; however related experience is usually required within specializations.

  • Data entry - All transcription is a form of data entry, but when it comes to home-based transcription positions, those listed under “data entry” are the simplest form of general transcription and take the least amount of skill. It may be a good place for a beginning typist to get started, but it won’t pay much. However, work-at-home scams can be dressed up to look like data entry jobs, so be familiar with data entry scams. Examples of companies offering this type entry-level transcription job include QuickTate or Scribie, which each offer transcribers short bits audio to transcribe at a set fee. See more data entry companies.
  • Legal transcription - Legal transcription is a specialization within general transcription. It does not take special training and certification like medical transcription, but experience and familiarity with legal terms and procedures are usually required. And as such, it usually takes experience as both a transcriptionist and in the legal profession to practice it, either in an office or in a work-at-home setting. 
  • Financial/corporate transcription - Again, not a separate field from general transcription, financial transcription is a specialization that requires that the typist have a certain level of knowledge of the terminology of the particular industry and/or earnings reports, annual meetings, press conferences, interim results, analyst reports, etc.
  • Offline captioning - Captioners can either work offline or in realtime and both can be done from home. In offline captioning, the audio of a recorded video is transcribed and added as captions in the post-production process.

Related: A transcription reviewer can be the next step up the ladder for a good transcriptionist.

See a list of general transcription jobs from home.

Medical Transcription

Medical Transcription
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Medical transcriptionists practice a specialized form of transcription that requires training and certification. A medical transcriptionist transcribes a physician or medical practitioner’s dictation, which are then added into the patient’s medical record. Unlike general transcription, medical transcription requires post-secondary training — either a 1-year certificate program or 2-year associate’s degree. Read more about medical transcriptionists or search for home-based medical transcription jobs.

Related: Though it will take more training, medical transcription is a possible career path for LPNs to work at home.

Realtime Transcription

Realtime Transcription
Getty/Tim Flach

Most home transcriptionists work off recorded audio; however, realtime transcription means listening to live audio and typing it. This requires very high typing speeds, accuracy and specialized stenography equipment. Only the most experienced typist can transition to realtime transcription. Read more about realtime transcription.

  • Realtime captioner - Of all the realtime writing jobs, this is the one most likely to be done from home. This type of captioning is providing text for live video.
  • Court reporter - Court reporting takes training and certification is nearly always done on site. Court reporters who want to work at home can transition to captioner, scopist or legal transcriptionist.
  • CART provider - Communication access real-time translation (CART) is providing captioning for deaf or people with hearing impairments in “real time.” It is often done in person in meetings, conferences, legislative sessions and schools; however in some circumstances, it can be done with the CART transcriptionist working from a remote location.

Related: A scopist reviews, edits and proofreads the transcripts produced by a court reporter, essentially converting the machine shorthand into a clean transcript. While the court reporter’s software will convert many of his or her abbreviations, the scopist cleans up anything that is unclear, checks the spelling of proper names and technical terms and listens to the recordings to clarify anything necessary. Scopists can often work from home.