Earn money as a secretary / transcriber from home
If you have great typing skills, or sometimes even if you don’t, you can earn money from home performing secretarial tasks. In fact, you can make this your full time job from the comfort of your own home. In this post we outline the role of at home secretary or transcriber and then provide some starting points for companies currently hiring. Alternatively, if you have experience as a personal assistant, you may be able to use these skills from home as a virtual assistant. If you don’t have a fast typing speed check out some of our customer service or data entry jobs instead (or scroll down for a dictation software work-around). If you have academic or creative writing talents then you might want to have a look at our ideas for how to earn money from writing.
Type of job: Computer based; typing
Skills: Generally you need a level of typing prowess, with a word-per-minute of at least 60-65. You will also need good language and grammar skills. You can find out your typing speed and improve it at www.typeonline.co.uk/typingspeed.php.
Equipment: Some equipment needed. We recommend a good keyboard to avoid strain, a decent set of headphones and a foot pedal to pause audio files. Some transcription jobs also require you to have your own software. We advise that you don’t purchase any special equipment until you have found a company to work for. Have a look at our suggested equipment below.
Pay: This will depend on your speed and level of skill. If you have a specialism such as being able to transcribe medical or legal terminology then you will be able to earn considerably more than a general typist. Our understanding is that faster typists undertaking general work will earn between £6-£15 per hour.
What is a transcription job?
Transcription work involves typing up audio files into written documents. It can involve general audio, or if you are familiar with specialist terminology, such as medical or legal, it may involve specialist materials. General work could involve things like typing up audio from focus groups, typing up dictated letters, transcribing audio from meetings etc. It is not normally particularly interesting, but can be. The work is not difficult in itself, but it does require a degree of typing prowess in order to be profitable. If your typing is below about 60 WPM then you may find it difficult to make the hourly rate worthwhile, as these roles tend to pay by the amount of audio typed up (or by the word typed) rather than by the hours worked. However, you may be able to find a workaround if you are a slow typist, by ‘parroting’ using dictation software (see below).
You can read tips and tricks and how to maximise your earnings for transcription jobs here.
Legitimate transcription jobs
Can I use dictation or speech recognition software such as Dragon to transcribe?
No, and yes. Some speech recognition software, most notably Dragon Naturally Speaking, gives you the option to automatically transcribe an audio file. However, as dictation software is designed to be used with a specific speaker, once you add more than one person to an audio file it simply won’t work as auto-transcription software. Even with one speaker, it can take a while to ‘train’ the software to properly recognise the speaker’s voice.
BUT, there is a WAY AROUND THIS!
Essentially, to work around this you can spend some time training the software and then ‘parrot’ the audio file you have been asked to transcribe. This means that as you listen in your headphones you repeat what you are hearing into your microphone for the speech recognition / dictation software to pick up.
The benefit to doing this is it is obviously much easier on the hands, and if you don’t have super-fast typing skills then this allows you to still take on transcription work. The down side is that you will have to be very careful to proof read the document produced by the software. Of course, you’d need to do this anyway with your typed work but you run the risk that some words have been mis-heard by the software. Ways to reduce this problem are to invest in a high quality microphone headset and to spend time training the software to increase its accuracy. We have had best results with Dragon Naturally speaking, which claims to have up to 99% accuracy before training. Dragon also offers medical and legal specialist software for transcribers in these fields.
- Get the best equipment you can afford (but don’t spend money until you actually have a job!).
- Set up a quiet environment to work.
- ‘Parrot’ into dictation software if you can’t type quickly.
- You can get more tips from books on transcription jobs such as this one by Linda Warren.
- Transcription software (for use with a foot pedal). Express Scribe is a free version you can use initially.
- Foot pedal (to pause audio files).
- Headset (if using speech recognition software).
- Dragon Naturally Speaking (if using the ‘parrot’ technique).