Not all health care careers require a long stint in medical school. Medical transcriptionists can be ready for work in as little as a year.

If you're a great listener, fast typist and have a grasp on medical terminology, then you may want to become a medical transcriptionist. These medical administrative professionals are typically employed by hospitals, physician offices or companies that provide transcription services for the health care industry.

In order to do their jobs properly, transcriptionists are educated to do all of the following:

Listen to voice recordings from health care professionals and transcribe them into written reports.

Review transcriptions done by software programs to confirm their accuracy.

Identify any inconsistencies, errors or mistakes in reports that could affect patient care.

Submit reports to medical staff and follow-up as needed.

Medical transcriptionists must have general administrative skills in addition to specialized knowledge regarding medical jargon and abbreviations. Above all, they must have a strong sense of ethics since they often receive access to confidential medical information.

How Much do Medical Transcriptionists Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of medical transcriptionists in America as of May 2014 was $35,580, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $22,220 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $49,290.

Salary for this career can vary by industry. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries for medical transcriptionists as of May 2014 were:

  • Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals: $39,690 annual mean wage
  • Home health care services: $39,040 annual mean wage
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $38,940 annual mean wage

Pay, for medical transcriptionists, may also fluctuate by location. According to the BLS, the top-paying states in America for medical transcriptionists as of May 2014 were:

  • Massachusetts: $47,290 annual mean wage
  • District of Columbia: $46,610 annual mean wage
  • California: $45,060 annual mean wage

And the top-paying metropolitan areas in the United States for medical transcriptionists as of May 2014 were:

  • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division: $56,700 annual mean wage
  • Redding, CA: $52,620 annual mean wage
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division: $51,340 annual mean wage

Occupational Requirements and Job Types

Becoming a medical transcriptionist typically requires postsecondary education in medical transcription, which is offered often at community colleges, vocational schools and online schools. Certificates in medical transcription may be completed in one year. However, some students may prefer to earn an associate degree, particularly if they think they may want to eventually go on to pursue a bachelor's degree.

In addition to the right education, candidates should possess strong skills in the following areas:

  • Computers
  • Critical thinking
  • Listening
  • Time-management
  • Writing

The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (ADHI), formerly known as the American Association for Medical Transcription, says job types for transcriptionists can be broken down into three levels.

  • Level one professionals may be in entry-level positions and possess basic skills.
  • Level two professionals have intermediate knowledge and should be able to research many questions or problems independently.
  • Level three professionals have an advanced level of knowledge. They are seen as experts in their field and often work assisting or overseeing other transcribers rather than doing transcription themselves.

Professional credentials may be one way to rise among the ranks of medical transcriptionists. ADHI offers certification programs for those who want to become a Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist or a Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist.

Projected Career Growth for Medical Transcriptionists

The BLS reports employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to grow by eight percent between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. That comes out to 6,400 new jobs.

In explaining the projected growth, the BLS states, "Federal health legislation will expand the number of patients who have access to health insurance, increasing patient access to medical care. The increasing volume of healthcare services will result in a growing number of medical tests and procedures, all of which will require transcription."

Though it's expected that in the United States as a whole, medical transcriptionist jobs will increase, some states are expected to see a larger growth than others. According to Projections Central, the American states expected to see the highest percentage increase in the number of medical transcriptionist jobs within their borders between 2012 and 2022:

  • Utah: 27.7 percent projected job growth
  • Indiana: 23.9 percent projected job growth
  • Colorado: 22.6 percent projected job growth
  • Alaska: 22 percent projected job growth
  • Washington: 15.4 percent projected job growth

Regardless where in the United States you go to become a medical transcriptionist, you're joining a career field that's growing and can do damage to your monthly bills. First stop, medical transcriptionist school. Next stop, an incredible career that's vital to the American medical profession.

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Article Sources

1. Occupational Employment and Wages, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
2. Projections Central,
3. Professional levels, ADHI,