If you have any question about transcription that come to your mind often, hopefully this post can help answer them. I have been a transcriber exclusively the first 1.5 years of my freelance writing career, which means I have a lot of experience in this field.

Q. How much should I charge for transcriptions? 

This is actually a tricky question about transcription.

Transcription isn’t a very high-paying job; in fact, you’ll probably be working at a minimum wage rate. It’s the clients who decide the rate or the budget, so only agree if you are okay with the rate.

A professional transcriber might charge around $75 to $100 for per hour of audio; as a beginner with little experience, you might want to start at $20 or $25.

In fact, the standard pricing for high-quality transcription should be somewhat around $50 per audio hour, wherever you are in the world.

[My first job as a transcriber was for $5 and I had to transcribe a 40-minute audio file. So, go figure!]

Q. How Can I Charge More as a Transcriber?

That is actually a very good question about transcription, too. When you have more experience, a faster typing speed and have some positive reviews under your belt, you can gradually increase your rate. However, do remember that we live in a non-native English speaking region so it doesn’t matter how good your skills are, we are going to get paid lower than people living in the USA or UK.

Some projects offer to pay more, but they are the ones with a very short deadline. Remember, if you can start immediately after accepting the job offer and can return the transcript within the deadline, you can charge more for these projects.

Q.  How long does it take to transcribe a file? 

In average, it will take about 6 to 7 minutes to transcribe 1 minute of audio. Yes, that long! If you are an absolute beginner, it might even take you around 10 minutes to transcribe that 1-minute audio, give or take a few minutes if the audio clip is clear or exceptionally bad.

With that estimate, it might take a new transcriber around 10 hours to complete an 1-hour file. However, it is always a good idea to ask for a 24-hour deadline for such projects as you might not be able to finish the whole project in one sitting. Don’t worry, this is the standard time limit for 1-hour audio files.

Remember not to accept any job that has a less than 24-hour deadline for an 1-hour audio/video file. Or else, you won’t be able to finish it on time.

[P.S. Always ask for more time than you are going to need for transcription. Some audios are so bad in terms of sound clarity and background noise, you’ll end up needing double your usual time to complete it.

Q.  How should I charge for Transcription? 

[I’ll be answering in terms of Upwork]. Upwork has two kinds of hiring policy: hourly job and fixed prices. For transcription, I personally prefer fixed-price payments.

With fixed-price payments, you can decide on the rate based on how long the audio file actually is, and in hourly rate, the client pays you based on how many hours it took you to finish the job. Unless this is a regular client who trusts you completely, he or she might not want to hire you on an hourly basis. Because when you have unlimited hours at your disposal, you might take 20-hours instead of 10 to finish the job, deliberately typing slowly. Besides, once the clock starts, you can’t leave the chair for a 5-minute break,

No, it’s better to agree to a fixed-price project.

Q. Is the Length of the File Important?

Yes, it is very important that you note EXACTLY HOW LONG the audio really is. An 1-hour-15-minute audio file isn’t the same as an 1-hour audio file; in fact, an 1-hour-6-minute file isn’t the same as an 1-hour file.

So, ask your client exactly how long the file is, and base your budget on that. If you don’t want to work for the extra minutes for free, base your rate on per-minute of transcription instead of per-hour rate. Instead of applying with a $60/1-hour rate, base your rate as $1/1-minute file. This way, if you transcribe an 1-hour-7-minute file, you’ll get paid for the whole 67-minutes of audio.

Q. Can I use an AI Software to transcribe? 

Probably, but I wouldn’t. This is an important question about transcription, as well.

The client is paying you for a human transcription, and a transcriber should respect that. The client could have used the software themselves if they wanted machine-based results, and it would have been cheaper for them. Instead they chose a human being to transcribe their file, which means they value the personal touch.

Besides, an AI software might not be able to understand difficult accents, slang and uncommon phrases, human emotions or facial expressions. Only another human being can do that.

Q. What Do I Need for Transcription? 

A laptop or a computer, a transcription software (beta version available for free or for downloading on the Internet), a good pair of headphones (optional), and a quiet place to work. Although, a complete and utter concentration on your work will make you faster in your work.

Some very popular transcription software are Express ScribeoTranscribeThe FTW Transcriber and Transcribe.

Q. What type of Audio/Video files can I get for Transcribing?

There are tons of different files that you can get from clients to transcribe: interviews, seminars, meeting minutes, personal memos, YouTube videos, podcasts, home videos, etc. 

[I’ll give you an example. I worked with a deaf-and-dumb student for three months studying in a college in the US. He used to record all his classes and send them to me to transcribe, and he would later study the transcripts I sent back. I couldn’t continue because his rates were rather low because he was a student and there were too many files to complete every week.]

Some files can be highly confidential and the client would ask to sign an NDA before you start work. This is completely normal and legal, so there’s nothing to worry about. Signing a NDA also means that you won’t be able to use that particular work as your sample when applying for another project.

Q. What are the different types of Transcription materials?

Here is a list of all the different transcription files that you can find:

  • Academic transcription
  • Podcast transcription
  • Business transcription
  • Medical transcription
  • Conference transcription
  • Video transcription
  • Interview transcription
  • Focus Group transcription
  • Online Transcription
  • Market Research transcription
  • Sermon Transcription
  • Legal Transcription

Q. Do I need to be Good in English to be a transcriber? 

Moderately, yes.

You do not need to be a good writer for transcription, but you need to have a good grasp of English (or any other language you are working on) to be a transcriber. You need to know at least what the speakers are saying, and recognize the words they are using. If the client wants an Edited or an Intelligent Transcription, you need to be moderately good in English to correct their grammatical mistakes. 

If you have any more questions regarding transcription, ask away in the comment section and I will try to add the answers to the main post. 

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