How Do You Learn General Transcription?

There is a big demand for general, non-medical transcription.

transcription work from home

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Many audio and video files with non-medical content need to be transcribed for easy referencing, archiving and for search engine optimization.

You can take advantage of this need to get non-medical transcription work from home.

So how do you become a general transcriptionist? And how do you get the skills and training you need to become a transcriptionist?

There is no formal training required to become a general transcriptionist.

Although formal transcription training and courses are usually needed to get into medical transcription and legal transcription, you do NOT need formal training and you do NOT need to enroll in a $3,000 transcription course to be able to get general transcription work from home.

How to learn general transcription

To become a professional transcriptionist, you need to get some equipment, have excellent typing, listening, English and grammar skills, get the right information, and practice transcription.

1. Increase your typing speed and accuracy with typing tutorials

A transcriptionist must be a fast and accurate typist to earn a good living.

You can use online typing tutorials and typing tests to improve your typing speed and accuracy. Your typing and transcription speed will improve with practice. You can start by practicing typing without dictation.

The accuracy of any type of transcript is very important so focus not only on typing quickly but on typing without errors. Choose a typing tutorial that will provide you with stats that show your accuracy and speed. After you have improved your typing speed, then practice typing from dictation.

2. Improve your spelling, grammar and punctuation skills

You need to be proficient in grammar and spelling if you want to become a successful transcriptionist. A grammatical error or punctuation error can change the meaning of the sentence. 

If you need to brush up on you grammar skills, you can take an online grammar or take a course at your local community college. The Book of Style is a great reference book for grammar rules.

3. Get some computer skills

You need to have some basic computer skills, be able to use a word processing program and know how to download files. You can take online classes, watch YouTube videos or take community classes to improve your computer skills.

4. Expand your vocabulary and general knowledge

General transcription covers a wide range of topics and industries. You can improve your vocabulary about a specific industry by visiting relevant web sites and reading online and offline industry articles and newsletters.

For example, to become familiar with financial terms, you can read financial books or business magazines like Business Week and listen to financial TV channels like MSBNBC or Bloomberg. To become familiar with insurance terms, visit web sites of insurance companies.

To become both accurate and fast,
you must practice transcription.

5. Get transcription software and equipment

If you plan on becoming a professional transcriptionist, you’ll need a computer, transcription software, a transcription foot pedal and a headset and fast Internet access.

Download and install transcription software and connect the foot pedal to your computer to get ready to practice. Become familiar with the software. Express Scribe is a popular free transcription software. See a video on how it works here.

Although you can do transcription without a foot pedal and headset, investing in a foot pedal will increase your transcription speed instantly and make transcribing easier. A noise-canceling headset will help you hear recordings better and improve accuracy.

See more information here about transcription equipment.

6. How to practice transcription

Practicing transcription will help beginning transcriptionists become familiar with using transcription software and a foot pedal, build speed, increase accuracy and acquire an ear for transcription work. Your transcription speed will keep increasing gradually until you reach your ideal speed.

There are many ways to practice transcription.

  • Transcribe anything you hear.
  • Transcribe your own voicemail messages,  answering machine messages and Skype recordings.
  • Record and transcribe conversations, radio and television interviews.
  • Search websites to find different types of audio and video files. 
  • Download and transcribe online seminars, teleseminars and podcasts from the public domain. Transcribe a variety of podcasts to become familiar with different kinds of accents.

Using transcription practice files is one of the best ways to practice transcription and build speed.

Several websites provide medical practice transcription files but to learn general transcription, it’s best to use general transcription practice files.

The NCH website provides sample legal and medical audio files. They include transcribed documents to check your finished transcription against. When using them to practice general transcription, just ignore the legal and medical terms. You can download these practice transcription files at

Make sure that your transcription skills are up to speed before applying for your first transcription job and taking any transcription tests.

General transcription practice files will help you improve your transcription and listening skills, increase your transcription speed and help you get ready to apply for transcription jobs.

You can find general transcription practice files at

How to get general transcription work from home without knowing medical terminology and without specialized training. Get my free report, How to Avoid Transcription Scams. Visit

7. Get information. Learn from specialized books and courses

Specialized books and courses will give you insider information. Although you don’t need formal training, you’ll need to have some knowledge and skills to do transcription work. Book and courses will give you the information you need to get started the right way in transcription and avoid costly mistakes.

Here’s some industry information you’ll need to know:

  • Transcription formats, styles, transcription industry standards and conventions.
  • How to format transcripts, how and when to use verbatim, semi-verbatim and edited transcription.
  • What to transcribe and what to omit.

You can get this information by reading specialized how to books and using general transcription practice files.

One such book is  The General Transcription Business-In-A-Box.

If you want a complete course, check out Janet’s intensive, multi-media general transcription course, General Transcription: Theory and Practice

Transcription Training – Resources to learn transcription



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