How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

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The job of a medical transcriptionist is to convert verbal recordings by physicians and healthcare professionals into written reports. The profession received its own job classification from the Department of Labor in 1999, and is expected to grow slower than average, with a six percent increase in medical transcription jobs by 2020. The average pay of a medical transcriptionist is $32,900 per year.[1] [2]


Flickr: comedy_nose
Education High school diploma or an associate's degree or certification[3]
Starting pay $21,960[4]
Median pay $32,900[2]
10 yr growth 6%: Slower than average[2]
Related professions Court reporters, medical assistant, receptionists[5]
Author Allison Hughes

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Medical Transcriptionist Job Overview

Some of the key skills of the medical transcriptionist include the ability to listen, type, and spell.[6] These skills are put to use in a physician's office, a hospital, or a transcription service provider's office. In some cases, the medical transcriptionist works from home, receiving the verbal recordings and submitting the transcribed reports electronically.[2] The duties of a medical transcriptionist include:[7]

  • Understanding medical jargon and abbreviations for transcription purposes
  • Ability to transcribe the verbal recordings into referral letters, diagnostic test results, and related documents
  • Recognizing inconsistencies in the report and checking with a physician
  • Following patient confidentiality guidelines
  • Submitting transcriptions for approval

Medical transcriptionists need to become familiar with medical terms covering subjects like anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, and treatment assessments.[7]

Medical Transcriptionist Education

Medical transcriptionists do not need a formal degree to practice. However, individuals increase their chances of being hired if they complete training in medical transcription, usually in the form of a two-year associate's degree or a one-year certification program. These are available through vocational schools and community colleges, and include classes in medical terminology, anatomy, legal issues, and English grammar and punctuation. Although an accredited program is not necessary, it may be required for certain certifications.[3]

Medical Transcriptionist Training

Some companies offer medical transcription training in the form of a free medical transcription skills test. It allows an individual to listen to an audio recording and then transcribe it online.[6] Training is also available in a school setting, and some medical transcriptionists continue to go to school for additional classes.[3]

Medical Transcriptionist Certification and Exams

A transcriptionist does not have to become certified. However, certification may increase the chances of an individual being hired. There are two main certifications, either the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) or the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT). Both certifications require the future transcriptionist to pass an exam. The RMT certificate is for recent graduates who are working in one specific place, such as a doctor's office. The CMT certificate is for individuals working in several different medical specialties.[3]

A Day in the Life of a Medical Transcriptionist

The job of a medical transciptionist

Also See: How to Become a Doctor, How to Become a Pharmacist, How to Become a Medical Assistant, How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant, How to Become a Physician Assistant, How to Become a Dietitian, How to Become a Nutritionist, How to Become a Chiropractor


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