Transcription Services: How to Stand Out Amid Competition
Many people nowadays describe themselves as fast typists, especially early and mid-career employees who are 35 years of age or younger. After all, anyone who has a job now probably uses the computer extensively for correspondences, keeping logs, monitoring the workflow, studying the market, and a million other purposes. However, being fluent and fast at typing does not solely qualify you to be a transcriptionist.
Transcription, which at face value means turning an audio file into a text file, involves more than just that. While typing comes as a second nature to Generations Y and Z, their growing prowess in typing and texting still cannot compete with the speed of an average transcriptionist. That is why, in addition to other profound factors, transcription is a well-paying career that requires an intricate set of skills.
What Does It Take to Be a Transcriptionist?
1. Language Knowledge
The first requirement for transcription is simple and straightforward: linguistic expertise. In order to transcribe any audio, you must have professional knowledge of the spoken language from vocabulary to grammar and the proper punctuation needed to hold it together. You must also be an expert in the linguistic variation used.
Knowing a language and understanding its linguistic system are not one and the same, and in order to be a transcriptionist, you need to master the latter. The speakers whose speeches or meetings you are transcribing are under no obligation to use a prescribed form of language and it’s your responsibility to know the language well enough to faithfully transcribe what is being said.
In cases other than verbatim transcription that is used in legal or academic contexts, a transcriptionist is also required to spot and fix any linguistic mistakes that occur in the audio being transcribed.
2. Outstanding Research Skills
Transcribing for specific industries means that on top of your knowledge in language nuances, you must be fluent in the market jargon as well. However, no one knows everything and it’s not uncommon that you come across a word or phrase that you’re unfamiliar with. In this case, inquisitive research is mandatory to ensure transcription accuracy.
The dictionary of jargon is ever evolving, and the challenge truly culminates in contexts where jargon is being spoken in a heavy accent. Assuming your language of expertise is English, having to transcribe a meeting between two companies where one of the parties is talking about mineralogy in a heavy Chinese accent can be a tough challenge.
While other attendees may be field experts, their unacquaintance with the Chinese English accent means that your transcript will most likely serve as a trusted reference for correspondence details.
To make sure your meeting minutes are accurate, expressive, and comprehensible, it’s crucial that you utilize your research skills in educating yourself in the industry you’re transcribing for. To be more specific, you can also acquaint yourself with the companies whose meeting you would be transcribing. No matter how odd the industry jargon is, learning about it beforehand and familiarizing yourself with its common terms guarantees you will be able to capture every spoken word with infinite precision.
Such commitment to the client and their industry is an undoubted way to stand out against competitors and be recognized among the market as an industry-specific professional.
3. Technological Equipment
The hardware and software tools that you use as a transcriptionist can either facilitate or hinder your job massively. Investing in transcription software means you can spend more time researching and sharpening your language and market knowledge rather than having to deal with technical bugs and hiccups.
A pro transcribing tip, but one that requires a lot of practice, is the use of a foot (WAV) pedal. The foot pedal saves you time by sparing you any hand movements that force you to take your hands off the keys, like having to reach for the backspace button or hold Ctrl + letter for character capitlization. Investing time and money in training yourself on the software and equipment will certainly help you speed up and capture everything with utmost proficiency.
Is Specialization a Good Idea?
Choosing to specialize in one industry is not a bad idea at all; in fact, it is quite encouraged. With your focus set on a single market, industry professionals can trust that your market expertise will reflect unmatched quality.
Committing to the legal sector, for instance, allows you to offer your transcription services to attorneys and courts. Some of these jobs will require a license, but if you work hard, it won’t be hard to obtain. This will open a lot of doors for you from sitting in an office in a law firm, transcribing away rebuttals and testimonies to sitting as a stenographer during court hearings and trials.
Some fields of transcription can be harder than other, such as legal transcription due to its live, fast-paced nature and also its commitment to being verbatim.
Another very promising specialty is medical transcription. Many of the medical conventions around the world require a transcriptionist to capture each session for future publishing. Unlike legal transcription, transcribing for the medical field allows you some liberty to apply edits to the original statement in order to enhance the outcome quality through making it more coherent and comprehensible. However, it still requires you to do a lot of research and familiarize yourself with many medical terms and jargon.
You can also opt to work in academia or media where you’re most likely to be assigned to transcribing interviews. Although transcribing for such industries is less demanding than the legal and medical sectors, technical difficulties could arise if the recording quality is poor due to ambient noise or the use of unprofessional tools.
If you decide to become an industry-specific transcriptionist, make sure you choose an industry that you enjoy learning about. Explore as many fields as wish, but once you’ve found your match, make sure you excel at.
Like many other professions, your learning curve does not plummet once you’ve conquered a couple of hills. There is always room for improvement, and it should be your responsibility to constantly hone your skills and add to your pool of knowledge.
Practice your typing speed constantly on websites like Typingtest.com, 10FastFingers, and Mavis Beacon or develop autofill shortcuts to cut down the time spent on recurring words. As important as it is to be fast as a transcriptionist, the real game changer is your knowledge and abilities, so always keep learning.
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