How Much Can You Earn as a Transcriptionist on Average? What Factors Affect This Rate?

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

For those either planning to take up online transcription as a profession or for those who are currently looking to hire a transcriptionist, it is important to know the fair rates of the industry not just to save money but also to be able to get fair results for the price point paid.

Transcription is a service offered and not just a product that is bought. However, just like a product, there are certain factors in order to determine the worth of the service. Online transcription revolves around making detailed notes coming from interviews, group meetings, phone calls, or turning any audio into a readable transcript.

This type of service is quite popular in the professional world for certain vocations like physicians who have very important conversations. Lawyers are also amongst those that avail of these services on a regular basis. Journalists also use this service after recording an interview with a source than having it transcribed.

The rate nowadays usually goes from $0.75 to $1.50 per audio minute for online transcription services. A few transcriptionists actually charge an hourly rate of about $15 to $30; in these given cases, once the audio file has been shared, it is wise to ask for an estimate of just how many hours of online transcription is needed to get the final product prepared.

How to earn as a transcriptionist

Since the average pay is $0.75 to $1.50 per audio minute for online transcription, making money off of transcription jobs depends on how fast the online transcriptionist can transcribe certain audios minute by minute. Let’s say the audio that needs to be transcribed is about 3 minutes long, the rate is at $1 for each minute, and it takes the transcriptionist about 10 minutes to transcribe the whole thing. In order to get how much can be made in an hour, multiply 3 by 6 and the answer is 18. Since the pay is $1 every minute, then it is possible to earn $18/hour.

This, of course, depends on the type of transcription jobs offered since some of them are more complicated than the others. The advantage of paying per hour is that the transcriptionist is not pressured by time therefore improving the quality of the whole transcription in general.

For those transcriptionists that get paid per hour, quality should be the utmost priority in order to retain clients and get new ones. Those that get paid per minute transcribed usually focus on efficiency trying to transcribe as much as possible within the given timeframe in order to be able to take on more transcription jobs.

Other means of being paid as an online transcriptionist

Back in the day, some people did not just get paid per audio minute but rather per line. According to Cynthia Ann Lewis, during the 1990s the common rate per line ranges from $0.08 to $0.20. Today, although quite rare, there are still transcription jobs that post up a rate of a couple of cents per line.

This means that in order to earn $10 per hour at 7 cents a line, 143 lines have to be transcribed within that hour! This means that roughly more than 2 lines must be typed per minute! It must take less than 30 seconds for the transcriptionist to type each line!

Another more common way to get paid is per page. Although the minimum is sometimes $1 per page, this is very low. Also, considering the single-spaced tiny font requirements, this isn’t really an ideal way to get paid. It may be an exception if the payment is much better and the transcriptionist can make a decent amount per page of transcription.

The whole transcription industry and the dangers of AI and competition

The whole industry has been admittedly affected by both AI services like Trint and also other freelance platforms like Rev that provide online transcription services quite affordably making it harder for others to advance in this career path.

AI transcription, although not completely accurate, is better for some clients due to the fast and also more affordable service that it provides. What would take a human being a couple of minutes to transcribe might not even cost an AI tool a few seconds.

Due to transcription jobs becoming a craze, most freelancers who do not specialize in this field or do not even have the necessary experience put up this service for hire for a very very low rate. This hurts the professional transcriptionists because although their work is better in terms of quality, sometimes clients would just opt for something cheaper.

The reality of transcription jobs today

Although there is still a chance to become a highly-paid transcriptionist, the increasing competition has made this much harder resulting in transcribing becoming just another task for some company secretaries. Although the need for transcription is still there, the competition against both other men and machines have made it much harder.

Transcription jobs as of today are mostly viewed as a part-time and side job in comparison to being an actual career. Although some people do take online transcription very seriously, not a lot of people are able to stay in this industry for lengthy periods as full-time work unless directly employed as a transcriptionist by a company that pays in salary as opposed to a per-project basis.

The future of online transcription relies on both how the clients treat the industry and how the transcribers offer their services. Although professional transcribers usually retain their rate, the lack of workload has still made it hard for them to earn a decent amount.

The playing field for the up and coming transcription industry will most likely be automated and venturing into transcription jobs as a career is not really advisable. But as a part-time job, this could still make the transcriptionist a decent amount of money. For those looking to hire transcriptionists, getting automated online transcriptions could be much better especially if the transcription needs to be done in a short amount of time. provides professional transcriptionists software and tools to automate their process, speed up their work, and double their income.

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