What Does a Home Typist Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Female hand typing
••• Burak Karademir / Getty Images

A home typist or word processor types documents in his home office, frequently using audio files as the source. These home-based jobs can cover many types of transcription—from microjobs in data entry to specializations that require additional training such as medical transcription.

Not every type of transcriptionist job is suitable for at-home work; for instance, court reporting is usually done on-site. However, the skills that you develop in on-site situations can be valuable in helping you land some of the more lucrative homework such as real-time transcription and captioning.

Home Typist Duties & Responsibilities

Typing homework usually requires:

  • Communicating with the client or employer via various means, including phone, video conference, email, and chat
  • Using a computer or word processor to type correspondence, forms, reports, or other types of material from rough draft, corrected copy, or voice recordings
  • Proofreading finished work and correcting errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation before submission to the client or employer
  • Printing and making copies of work
  • Electronically transmitting work to other locations
  • Filing and storing completed documents

    Home Typist Salary

    Typist or transcriptionist compensation varies based on the client or employer, industry or area of expertise, and level of experience. Home typists are usually paid per piece or by the hour, although some may be paid per audio minute or per word. Median employee wages for typists or word processors are:

    • Median Wages: $19.11/hour
    • Top 10% Wages: More than $27.93/hour
    • Bottom 10% Wages: Less than $13.02/hour

    Home typists should be prepared to cover the cost of a desktop or laptop computer, word processing software, internet service, ergonomically designed keyboard and chair, time-tracking software, a good online or paper dictionary, income taxes, health insurance, and, for audio transcribers, headphones, transcription software, and a transcription foot pedal for hands-free audio control.

    Education, Training, & Certification

    It's helpful for you to have had at least two years of on-site experience, but most home-based transcription jobs don't require postsecondary education or special certification. However, if you're interested in pursuing medical transcription jobs, you may need certification or advanced training, depending on your client's or employer's requirements.

    Training in the fundamentals of office software is likely to be helpful for any home typist, especially one who's reentering the field after several years. Keep in mind, though, that some work-at-home scams are dressed up to look like online training, so be wary of any job posting that tries to sell classes to you.

    • Basic Classes: If you need to refresh your typing skills or knowledge of English grammar, enroll in a local vocational school or community college or take advantage of free online courses offered by such organizations as Alison, where you can learn or relearn touch typing, the fundamentals of English grammar, and more.
    • Medical Transcription Certification and/or Advanced Training: Obtaining certification or advanced training in medical transcription is optional but is likely to help you in your search for clients. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) offers two types of certificates for medical transcriptionists and approves programs providing advanced training in the field, for example, Ivy Tech's Medical Transcription Editor program.

      Home Typist Skills & Competencies

      A number of skills and traits are crucial to your becoming a successful home typist:

      • Computer skills: Skills that go beyond simply using word processing software are necessary for the home typist, who may have to install new software, log on to a company's system remotely, upload files, and troubleshoot home computer and connectivity issues.
      • Fast, accurate keying skills: Your typing skills and speed are important, but how fast you need to be may vary considerably. For example, a speed as low as 60 words per minute may be sufficient for an entry-level data-entry job, whereas real-time transcription or at-home captioning jobs may require speeds of up to 300 words per minute.
      • Good hearing and listening skills and the ability to understand accents are important when you're speaking with a client or transcribing audio files.
      • Proofreading skills: Knowledge of proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar is a must when you're finalizing a project or emailing a client.
      • Communication skills: Whether you're composing a memo, writing a proposal, or talking with your client via chat or video conference, you'll need the ability to express yourself clearly and succinctly.
      • Organizing/prioritizing skills, self-discipline, and focus: As an at-home typist, you're basically on your own. No one is going to stand over you and crack the whip, so you have to work smart, be organized and disciplined, and tenaciously home in on the project that's due this afternoon, rather than perusing tomorrow's work, checking on sports scores and weather forecasts, or getting bogged down in social media.
      • Ability to maintain confidentiality: Keeping a lid on client information is critical, especially when sensitive data, such as patient information, is involved.

      Job Outlook

      According to the BLS, word processors and typists are among the fastest-declining occupations, along with data entry keyers and computer operators. During the period 2016–2026, the number of jobs is expected to decline by 24,800 or 33 percent because of advances in technology and the proliferation of outsourcing. Medical transcription is projected to decline as well but at a much slower rate of 3 percent over the 2016–2026 period.

      On the other hand, the booming freelance or gig economy, more than 53 million Americans strong as of 2015, according to the BLS, could work to your advantage as a home typist or transcriber. As a member of the gig economy, you're in a position to snag typing and transcribing gigs that were once done in-house by employees.

      Work Environment

      Transcribers or typists who work from home spend most of their work time sitting in front of a computer in a home office or another area set up for work such as a kitchen table.

      Home typing workers are often hired as freelancers or independent contractors, although there may be opportunities for temporary employment or on-site freelance work. Some companies post available work for their contractors to claim on a first-come, first-served basis.

      Home medical transcriptionists typically work for transcription-service companies that provide services to health care establishments.

      Work Schedule

      Even though you're working at home, away from the constraints of a formal office, it's important to stick to a regular schedule that offers some flexibility to allow for last-minute rush projects and home emergencies.

      Set your work hours to suit you and the needs of your clients and start at the same time every day. Take a short break every couple of hours to walk around and stretch, and never take on more work than you can realistically handle.

      How to Get the Job

      FIND A GIG AND APPLY FOR IT

      Start out close to home by networking with friends, family members, and associates; then check out resources such as Upwork, Indeed, and Flexjobs to build your client base.

      PREP FOR SKILL TESTS

      Potential clients generally use skill tests as an initial screening tool, so consider honing your speed and accuracy chops with free typing tests and practice files for transcriptionists.

      ACE THE INTERVIEW

      You may not be applying for an office job, but you'll still want to be ready to field interview questions from your potential clients.

      Comparing Similar Jobs

      Because you're interested in working from home, you might want to explore additional freelance opportunities: