What Is a Medical Transcriptionist?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A medical transcriptionist transcribes doctor’s notes into written documentation. Learn more about medical transcriptionist jobs, salaries, and training.

[Featured Image] A woman in a medical office sits at a desktop computer and types.

A medical transcriptionist is a person who listens to medical notes from healthcare professionals and accurately transcribes those audio recordings into written medical documents used for a variety of purposes. Medical transcriptionists usually work remotely from home in healthcare offices, providing telescription services as full-time employees or freelancers.

This flexibility is just one of the perks of a career as a medical transcriptionist. As a medical transcriptionist, you also can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you're helping other people. Your work supports healthcare providers and ensures the accuracy of patient records. 

What does a medical transcriptionist do? 

A medical transcriptionist transcribes the notes healthcare providers record after a medical visit with a patient. They then file away or store those documents in the correct location. These documents will typically be used for reference for the healthcare provider, insurance companies, the patient, and anyone else who needs access to a person’s medical history. 

A few specific tasks of a medical transcriptionist include: 

  • Checking audio for errors and reporting as necessary

  • Translating and understanding medical jargon, terms, and abbreviations into an easy-to-understand document

  • Editing medical documents according to the employer’s preferences and requirements 

  • Using specific equipment and tools to dictate doctor’s notes into medical documentation

  • Following confidentiality laws and guidelines  

To properly do their job, medical transcriptionists use specific equipment and tools. These include a PC, Microsoft Word, transcription software, a headset, and a foot pedal. 

How to become a medical transcriptionist

To become a medical transcriptionist, you will need medical transcription training. Your employer also may ask you to complete on-the-job training as you adapt to your new work environment and get a feel for the pace of a medical office.

Medical transcriptionist training: Education requirements  

To start working as a medical transcriptionist, you’ll need to complete a training programme. Most training programmes require a bachelor’s degree, usually in life sciences, but not all of them. Some transcriptionist programmes can be entered after 10+2.  

The main difference between levels of medical transcription training is whether you are entering the field in an entry-level position or a more senior role. The certification and education you complete will affect the job titles for which you are qualified. If you earn your medical transcriptionist certification after the 12th, you won’t have the same qualifications as someone who earned a bachelor’s and a post-graduate diploma in medical transcription.

  • Duration: Depending on your chosen programme, medical transcription programmes take six months to one year to complete.

  • Coursework: Medical transcription programmes will teach core skills like medical terminology, medical transcription, word processing software, and standard medical office procedures. A diploma and certification program will also train you on medical transcription devices.

  • Cost: The average cost of a medical transcriptionist certificate programme is between ₹7,000 to ₹30,000 per year, depending on factors like location [1]. 

  • Convenience: Online and hybrid options for both degree and certificate programmes exist. Most vocational schools or community colleges offer convenient options like this, along with classes that may fit the schedule of a working professional. 

Consider certifications

You can become a registered medical transcriptionist by earning your certification, such as a Certification in Medical Transcriptionist (MT) from CIMS or a Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) offered by the Association of Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). To qualify for this credential, you must complete an approved medical transcriptionist training or degree programme. This type of certification is best for entry-level medical transcriptionists who want to specialise in a certain area of health care. 

Another certification available to medical transcriptionists is the Certified Healthcare Document Specialist (CHDS), also available through the AHDI. This certification is intended for medical transcriptionists with professional experience and an RHDS certification. Applicants for this certification must also have completed an approved programme and be qualified to work with US healthcare companies. CHDS certification is also meant to be certified in a particular area or speciality within the healthcare field. To maintain RHDS or CHDS, you’ll need to apply for recertification every three years.

How long does it take to become a medical transcriptionist?

Becoming a medical transcriptionist takes anywhere from six months to one year. Aside from gaining your education and on-the-job training, applying for and finding a job will also take some time. If you want to add additional certifications, expect to spend more time pursuing that training. 

What skills do I need to work as a medical transcriptionist? 

Some key skills you need to work as a medical transcriptionist are good listening skills and the ability to think quickly, multitask, and communicate well. A few other skills you’ll need to be successful in this profession include: 

  • Typing skills and speed: This profession's core is the ability to type efficiently and accurately. You will need to be able to type at a relatively high rate of speed while also listening, which requires talent and skill.

  • Accuracy and attention to detail: These are key professional skills. As a medical transcriptionist, I also identify errors or inconsistencies in medical documents and report these errors to the appropriate person for correction. 

  • Strong ethical foundation: You must be able to keep the information you transcribe private and confidential. If you seek to work with US healthcare companies, adherence to HIPAA policies and ethical confidentiality is necessary.

  • Medical terminology: You will need to have a strong knowledge of standard medical terms, jargon, and abbreviations to dictate healthcare provider spoken notes into written documents. 

  • English and writing proficiency: The ability to understand the English language and correctly write notes using proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax is important. 

  • Self-motivated: Medical transcriptionists must be intrinsically motivated as they transcribe audio, which requires a lot of focus and concentration. Remote employees will need this skill even more as they work from home and may make up their hours. It’s also helpful to remember that the word and not the hour pay some medical transcriptionists. 

Medical transcriptionist jobs and career outlook

The advancement of voice recognition software may decrease the demand for medical transcriptionists. Still, these professionals will remain in demand as long as doctors' offices and healthcare facilities need the support. Individuals who are fluent in more than one language are precious. As the leader in outsourcing, India is in place to benefit from the expansion of the health care system in the US as well. 

Similar healthcare jobs 

Suppose you want to use your job as a medical transcriptionist as a springboard into other allied health care careers. In that case, you may want to consider these similar career choices that also assist doctors and nurses in supporting roles: 

  • Medical assistant 

  • Home health aide 

  • Medical biller

  • Medical coding 

  • Lab tech 

These similar supporting positions will usually only require an additional certification programme rather than returning to school to earn a degree, so the transition for many can be pretty straightforward. 

Managerial positions in medical transcription

Medical transcriptionists who want to stay in their profession and advance their career may seek supervisory positions in medical transcription and teaching. A few jobs for medical transcriptionists with experience and certifications include: 

  • Quality assurance editor 

  • Medical transcription instructor 

  • Document integrity specialist 

  • Medical records transcription supervisor 

  • Manager of medical records 

Some of these positions may also require a bachelor’s degree or higher. If you transition into one of these roles, you may need to return to school first.

Medical administration jobs 

Use your experience as a medical transcriptionist to move into an administrative position as a support staff member at a hospital, health clinic, physicians’ office, or other healthcare organisation. Some of these positions require additional certification or education. Still, you may be able to move into one of these jobs based on your skills and professional experience as a medical transcriptionist:

  • Medical receptionist 

  • Medical secretary 

  • Administrative assistant 

  • Medical office administrator 

  • Dental office manager 

  • Medical front office manager 

Next steps 

If you want to be a part of the medical community and learn new and exciting medical terminology and jargon, you may enjoy a career in medical transcription. When you gain the education and experience of a medical transcriptionist, you can work in other allied health care support positions or expand your career in health care into more supervisory positions.

Enroll in an approved programme and consider how a career as a medical transcriptionist would work best for you. As you prepare for your new job, expand your knowledge base through a Specialisation like the Anatomy Specialisation from the University of Michigan or the Medical Terminology Specialisation from Rice University. Both courses and more are on Coursera. 

Article sources


Collegedunia. “Medical Transcription Courses: After 12th, Online, Admission Process, Fees, College, Scope 2022, https://collegedunia.com/courses/medical-transcription#9.” Accessed March 28, 2024.  

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.