"I am a single dad trying to figure out how to make money and spend more time with my family, and while I was online looking for work-at-home jobs, I saw a number of postings advertising for a “medical transcriptionist.” Most of those jobs looked totally legit, unlike a lot of the crap you see online when you are looking for work you can do at home. I got excited, but when I clicked on the jobs, a lot of them were asking for a certification. What is medical transcription, and how do I go about getting started? Is this a reliable way to make an income from home?"
Asked by Markus from Flint, MI on September 4, 2013
Medical transcriptionists have the job of taking voice recordings made by physicians and converting them into written documents by typing them up on the computer. When physicians make their recordings, they often use a lot of medical terminology and abbreviations, so the transcriptionist has to be able to correctly interpret that jargon and prepare medical documents with it.
This position can be a work-at-home job or one where you work at a clinic, hospital, or medical transcription agency. If you work at home, you will probably be a self-employed contractor, accepting freelance jobs like those you saw advertised. Those are indeed legitimate job offers, and they can provide you with a great way to make money at home on your own. There is a lot of competition for these contracts, though, and demand is growing slowly for this job, not quickly. So that is something to weigh into your decision as far as the “reliability” angle goes. I recommend you contact some transcriptionists and ask them about their day to day routines and how difficult it is to find work.
As far as becoming a medical transcriptionist, you will need postsecondary training in order to get employed or win contracts. You will do best with a 1-year certification program or a 2-year associate’s degree. You need to search for an accredited program if you want to get a certificate, and with the competition for jobs, you definitely need to pursue one. While studying for your exam, you will learn about anatomy, medical abbreviations and terminology, legalities, and English grammar. You may also do some on-the-job training to get experience. Look into getting a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) certification, which is intended for recent graduates of medical transcription programs with under 2 years of experience. You may also eventually choose to pursue a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) rating, which is intended for transcriptionists with specialties.
After you receive your certification, you will need to keep your knowledge up to date so you can pass regular recertification exams. Becoming a medical transcriptionist requires a relatively small investment as far as time and education is concerned, and while the salary is not very high, consider that if you work at home you will not be commuting. This saves time and money, and you would be able to spend more time with your family. Do some research on demand and look into certification programs. You may also want to look at our articles on medical billing and coding, two other jobs you could potentially do from home which have higher demand.