There are some underlying similarities between a Transcriptionist and an Audio Typist, but there are also a lot of differences, in this article we explore what these are.
The main requirements for an audio typist:
- A fast and accurate typist
- An excellent grasp of the language you will be working in
- Excellent grammar and punctuation skills
- Good computer skills, as you will need up-to-date software compatible with the files you will be downloading, together with good quality headphones and a foot pedal
- A good knowledge of the sector you will be working in
The main requirements for a transcriptionist:
All of the above plus:
- A good ear for dialects and accents
- Patience – the audio quality may not be very good, especially if there are several speakers
- Flexibility in your working hours as deadlines must be met which may entail you having to work through the night or to work to different time-zones around the world if you have signed up for this type of work
- A wider skill set in terms of document layouts, for example, you could be asked to transcribe:
- Medical files
- Focus groups
- Legal work
- Financial documents
- Court hearings
To name but a few!
The advantage of both jobs is that you can work from home or remotely and choose the hours that you work. When on holiday, you can pack your laptop, earphones, and foot pedal and work the hours that suit you, to keep the work-flow (and income stream) flowing. To ensure connection to the internet, which is required to connect the VPN (a virtual private network) to a server (which you will need if you are downloading audio files), you can use a mobile device that will enable you to connect to the internet anywhere in the world.
Audio typists will become familiar with hearing one voice and type whatever documents the person dictating requests. The content varies and may consist of typing and formatting a straightforward or an extremely complicated document. When working remotely, you will not have the benefit of having a physical file to refer to if something on dictation is not clear, for example, bank account numbers or other important statistics that could create a problem if mistyped. If the dictation is muffled or unclear, you will need to be able to figure it out yourself which may involve some detective work to make sure that what you are typing is correct. Never return anything (or send it out if you have been authorised to) unless you are certain that it is 100% correct. If in doubt, check, check and check again.
When a communication is sent out with errors, it reflects on the organisation and the person receiving it will not be impressed. Names spelled incorrectly, poor grammar, or, worse still, incorrect information, could result in a loss of business. That is why accuracy and checking your work is so important. This applies to both audio typists and transcriptionists. However, if a transcriptionist submits sub-standard work, they may not be paid the best rates and risk not being paid at all if the work is very poor. Similarly, audio typists who submit sub-standard work risk not getting any further work.
Audio typists may get instructions to do something (rather than being asked to type something), such as to research a certain matter or to instigate a specific type of search (if working, say, on a conveyancing matter) or to complete a Trustee Act form (if working on a Probate matter). You must be familiar with these legal practices because if you put a wrong search in hand, it could cost the client hundreds of pounds which they will not be happy about and you may become liable for that cost. Likewise, all the details submitted in a Trustee Act form must be correct.
Moving on to a day in the life of a transcriptionist, the audio file or video which can be in different formats including on CDs, tapes, MP3, MP4, DSS, and WAV files, to name just some examples, will probably have several people speaking (from between 2 – 20) either in a meeting, conference, or another setting. You will be expected to transcribe everything you hear perfectly and you will need to know whether you are transcribing it verbatim, intelligent verbatim, or edited transcription. Verbatim is precisely what it says: transcribing every single word and sound including coughs, fillers (erm, ah, etc). Intelligent verbatim cleans it up and cuts out the unnecessary sounds (unless, for example, a laugh or clearing of a throat is pertinent to what is being transcribed, perhaps in a court hearing scenario). Edited transcription ‘formalises’ the transcription if you like, for example, ‘dunno’ would become, ‘I don’t know’ and so on. Clear instructions will have been given to the transcriptionist on how the file is to be transcribed at the outset. Again, you must be familiar with the various forms of transcription before beginning work on a file.
If you enjoy a variety of workloads and can transcribe quickly and effectively with many different speakers, then transcription work could be for you. It takes a lot of concentration, effort, skill, and patience. You must have great pride in your work and be prepared to research unusual words or phrases to ensure complete accuracy and aspire to perfection.
To sum up, audio typing can be less complicated in terms of the content of the work but carries other responsibilities, and transcriptionists have a more complex set of requirements. Although the two jobs seem to overlap in terms of skill sets, they are both unique and contain very different challenges.