Is a Medical Transcriptionist Job Right For You?

A Medical Transcriptionist is one of the many careers in Medical Billing which will see an increase in job availability in the future. With double digit growth projected, it can be an excellent long-term job opportunity.

Medical Transcription: Nature of the Work

Medical-transcriptionists listen to recordings dictated by doctors and other health care professionals and transcribe them into medical reports. Using a headset, a transcriptionist uses a foot pedal to pause the recording when necessary, and types the text into a computer. The end product may include discharge summaries, medical history and physical examination reports, operative reports, consultation reports, autopsy reports, diagnostic imaging studies, progress notes, and referral letters. They then return transcribed reports to the doctors who dictated them for review and signature or correction; eventually they become part of patients’ permanent files.

About 40 percent of people doing Medical Transcription work in hospitals and approximately 30 percent worked in doctors' offices. Others work in medical and diagnostic laboratories, outpatient care centers, and offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists, and audiologists.

Training and Qualifications Required

Completion of a 2-year associate degree or 1-year certificate program—including coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, legal issues relating to health care documentation, and English grammar and punctuation—is highly recommended, but not always required. Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some people who do transcription, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nurse or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.

Certification: The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) offers two certificates, the Registered Medical-Transcriptionist (RMT) and the Certified Medical-Transcriptionist (CMT). Transcriptionists who have graduated from educational programs, or have fewer than 2 years experience in acute care, may become a registered RMT. The CMT certificate requires at least 2 years of experience working in multiple specialty surgery areas using different format, report, and dictation types. RMTs and CMTs must earn continuing education credits every 3 years to be re certified.

Opportunity for Advancement

After acquiring some experience, transcriptionists can advance to supervisory positions, home-based work, editing, consulting, or teaching. Some start their own medical transcription businesses. With additional education or training, some become medical records and health information technicians, medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators.

Long Term Job Outlook for Medical Transcription

Employment is projected to grow faster than the average; as our population ages, demand for transcription services will increase, ensuring that job opportunities should be good, especially for those who are certified.

Salary/Earnings Potential

In 2006 (the most recent year with complete data), medical transcriptionists had average hourly earnings of $14.40. Industries employing the largest numbers and their hourly wages were:

  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories $15.68
  • General medical and surgical hospitals $14.62
  • Business support services $14.34
  • Outpatient care centers $14.31
  • Doctors' Offices $14.00
  • Your own medical transcription business $___ Like any business owner, your income would be determined by your hard work and management abilities.
  • Some transcriptionists are paid not by the hours they work but rather by the number of lines they transcribe. Others receive a base pay per hour with bonuses for extra production. Employees of transcription services and independent contractors almost always receive production-based pay. Independent contractors earn more than do transcriptions who work for others, but independent contractors have higher expenses and receive no benefits.

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