How to become an audio typist in 6 steps (with skills)
Updated 16 April 2023
An audio typist or transcriber is one of many roles available in the transcription sector and may be one of the more challenging jobs in this particular industry. The position may be freelance or part of a typing firm, giving you flexibility in how you approach this job. There are several ways to become an audio transcriber, and learning about them helps you understand the role's requirements. In this article, we look at what an audio typist is and how to become one, with a discussion of the role's main duties and key skills.
What is an audio typist?
Audio typists specialise in transcribing audio into text. This audio is usually pre-recorded, but they may also do it for live broadcasts or to copy what people in the room are saying. Their main responsibility is to accurately report what people say, producing a clear transcript that others may refer back to later. Audio transcribers work in various sectors, and their tasks may range from taking minutes at meetings to digitally reproducing medical information someone provides over audio.
Most audio transcribers work with dictated audio content, creating transcripts from recordings. This requires them to tell participants apart and infer what someone is saying in cases where there are issues with the audio. In some situations, this audio may form the basis of legal documents, so accuracy is important. The audio they transcribe may come from a range of different recording devices, such as dictaphones, or might simply be files on a computer, such as mp3s. Whatever format the audio takes, it's the typist's job to replicate it in typed form, with every detail transcribed accurately.
How to become an audio transcriber
There are several ways to become an audio transcriber. Formal entry requirements are minimal, but this differs from business to business, especially as freelance typing is a key option. Regardless, the job encompasses numerous necessary skills essential for any successful typist role, so make sure you hone these before applying or advertising your services. With that in mind, here are some common steps for becoming an audio transcriber:
1. Get the right education
Although virtually no audio transcriber role requires a university degree, it may be necessary to demonstrate a decent standard of education, especially since good spelling is critical for high-quality transcription. The easiest way to showcase your literacy skills is to have a relevant qualification, typically an English literature or English language GCSE. Alternative qualifications such as Function Skills Level 2 certificates or BTEC Firsts often help in this regard, as both of these are equal to GCSEs. Typist positions rely upon accuracy, so a good grasp of English and how to use it is essential.
Related: GCSE equivalent qualifications
2. Enter an apprenticeship
For many, apprenticeships represent an opportunity to get experience in a chosen career. This approach allows them to earn a wage while honing their skills in a professional setting. In recent years, apprenticeships have become more popular as an alternative to attending college or university, with apprentices commonly transitioning into full-time employment. Taking an administrative apprenticeship at an organisation may involve typing-based responsibilities, and these apprentices may progress towards full audio typing roles. With these opportunities, apprentices develop their skills while on-the-job and enjoy a more practical setting.
3. Conduct freelance work as a typist
There are many transcription opportunities available on the Internet, giving you a way to enhance your skills and experience at the same time. For example, websites such as Zooniverse provide a great range of scientific projects where you transcribe spoken or written text to help with research across many sectors and fields. By proactively seeking projects and endeavours that require audio transcribers, you demonstrate your passion and practise rapid, accurate typing. Freelance captioning, such as for online videos, is another route that helps you develop similar skills and experience.
4. Take an audio typing course
Along similar lines, there are many courses available that teach you how to develop your typing skills in certain fields. This usually introduces the relevant jargon that an organisation might expect you to use. These courses also provide an additional qualification for you to add to your CV or refer to in interviews, further showing your commitment to the role. Many of these courses involve learning touch typing, a necessary skill that lowers the chance of mistakes when typing quickly and fluidly while not needing to look at the screen.
5. Apply for positions
If you're confident in your typing skills, the next step is to apply for relevant positions. You may sign up as a freelance transcriber for an outsourcing organisation, or you might advertise your services independently. Alternatively, search for dedicated roles at organisations and submit your CV for consideration. By tailoring your CV and application to match every job description that interests you, you accentuate the right skills and experiences for each specific role. By doing this, you show that you're the ideal candidate for any typist position.
6. Complete the interview
Depending on the role you apply for, an employer may invite you for an interview. If you have an interview, take note of the common questions hiring managers are likely to ask, such as those about your job prospects, strengths, weaknesses and key skills. It often helps to re-read the job posting in advance, as this reminds you of the most relevant skills and experiences to talk about. Re-reading your CV is also helpful, as it gives you an idea of what the interviewer might ask you to elaborate upon.
What are the responsibilities of an audio transcriber?
Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of audio transcribers include:
typing up documents from dictations, audio recordings, written documents and other media
converting audio recordings and handwritten documents into digital files
taking notes and minutes in meetings
drafting reports, documents, presentations and other written material
proofreading completed transcriptions and correcting any punctuation, spelling or grammar mistakes
reformatting and merging documents to meet specifications
performing general office duties such as scanning, copying, printing and answering emails and phone calls
The skills of an audio transcriber
Audio transcribers develop and hone many key skills and abilities to help them do their job effectively. This role relies upon these skills to produce accurate audio transcriptions. You may acquire these skills through online courses, beginner roles that provide training or simple practice tests. The main skills for this position include:
Typing skills: The most important skill for this job is the ability to type quickly and accurately, with an average of at least 70-80 words per minute. Touch typing is essential for any typist, as this allows you to type as you look at the screen, letting you spot errors immediately and know where each key on the keyboard is.
Industry knowledge: Audio transcribers usually work within one sector, such as the medical or legal industries, where specific jargon is commonplace. Knowing the industry and its terminology stops a typist from getting confused when conducting their work while also reducing the chances of spelling mistakes.
Technical skills: Audio transcribers often use technology to create their transcriptions, including basic audio devices such as dictaphones and editing software to help clean up audio recordings. They may also use word processing software to type up and format their work.
Listening skills: Being able to listen and type simultaneously is key for any audio transcriber, as they're required to listen to the next sentence while typing the previous one. This helps to reduce the possibility of typing errors and helps the typist decipher poor-quality audio using their own listening ability alongside the available context.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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