Medical Transcriptionist

Career Information

Medical transcriptionist
••• David Sacks / The Image Bank /Getty Images

Medical transcriptionists translate dictated recordings from doctors and other medical professionals into written reports, correspondence, and other documents. Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors' offices may also have additional clerical duties. An alternate job title for this occupation is healthcare documentation specialist.

Quick Facts

  • This occupation employs 57,400 people (2016).
  • Most work for hospitals, physicians' offices, and companies that provide transcription services to the healthcare industry.
  • Medical transcriptionists usually work full time, with about one-third in part-time jobs.
  • Some medical transcriptionists are self-employed. Those who are, typically work from home and have flexible hours.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a poor job outlook for this occupation. Employment is expected to decline between 2016 and 2026.

A Day in a Medical Transcriptionist's Life

Employers listed the following job duties in online ads on

  • "Accurately transcribe physician's dictation of medical office visits, including incoming correspondence and x-rays"
  • "Operate designated word processing, dictation, and transcription equipment as directed to complete assignments"
  • "File, store, and receive materials as required"
  • "Receive incoming lab orders and requisitions and enter relevant clinical data into the necessary software applications at a high level of speed and accuracy"
  • "Review and edit transcribed reports or dictated material for spelling, grammar, clarity, consistency, and proper medical terminology"
  • "Identify mistakes in reports and check with doctors to obtain the correct information"
  • "Use designated professional reference materials"
  • "Prioritize dictated reports based on level of continuity of care needs"
  • "Troubleshoot dictation equipment as needed"

Job Requirements and Advancement Opportunities

If you want to be a medical transcriptionist, get a one-year certificate or associate degree. Programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools, or through distance learning programs. Coursework includes anatomy, medical terminology, legal issues relating to health care documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. Students often receive on-the-job training as well.

Voluntary certification can improve your job prospects but isn't mandatory. A recent graduate or someone with fewer than two years of experience in acute care can become a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) after passing a test administered by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). With more than two years of acute care experience, and after passing another exam, one can become a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).

You must use proper grammar and be proficient with computers and word processing software, for example, Microsoft Word. Soft skills like excellent critical thinkinglisteningspeaking and writing skills are essential.

After gaining experience you can advance to a supervisory position, or do home-based work, editing, consulting, or teaching.

With additional education and training you can become a medical records and health information technician, medical coder, or medical records and health information administrator.

What Else Will Employers Expect From You?

Job announcements on listed the following requirements in addition to training and experience:

  • "Must maintain patient and facility confidentiality"
  • "Ability to prioritize work within a changing environment and organize workload and complete tasks independently"
  • "Ability to handle constructive criticism in a positive manner"
  • "Must be mature, focused and reliable"
  • "Ability to communicate and interact professionally with others"
  • "Must have a positive attitude"

Is This Career a Good Fit for You?

A career must match your interestspersonality type, and work-related values for it to be a good fit.

A self assessment can help you figure out if you have the following traits that make medical transcriptionists a suitable choice:

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionAnnual Salary (2017)Educational Requirements
Health Information TechnicianEnsures the quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security of medical records$39,180HS Diploma and certificate or associate degree in health information technology
Pharmacy TechnicianReceives in-person or electronically transmitted prescription requests$31,750On-the-job training or postsecondary training from a community college or vocational school
Medical AssistantPerforms clinical and clerical tasks in a medical office$32,4801 to 2-year training at a community college or vocational school
Medical SecretaryPerforms clerical duties in a medical office$34,610Training in basic office skills at a community college or technical school

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited August 13, 2018).