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Medical Transcriptionists

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO3cnRsMDuI.
Quick Facts: Medical Transcriptionists
2021 Median Pay $30,100 per year
$14.47 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 59,600
Job Outlook, 2021-31 -7% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2021-31 -3,900

What Medical Transcriptionists Do

Medical transcriptionists use electronic devices to convert voice recordings from physicians and other healthcare workers into formal reports.

Work Environment

Many medical transcriptionists work for hospitals, physicians' offices, and third-party transcription companies that provide services to healthcare establishments. Most are full time, but part-time work is common.

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education that leads to a certificate. Prospective medical transcriptionists must know basic medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and rules of grammar.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $30,100 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 7 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 9,300 openings for medical transcriptionists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical transcriptionists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical transcriptionists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about medical transcriptionists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Medical Transcriptionists Do About this section

medical transcriptionists image
Medical transcriptionists review medical reports for accuracy.

Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, use electronic devices to convert voice recordings from physicians and other healthcare workers into formal reports. Transcriptionists also may edit medical records for accuracy and return documents for review and approval.

Duties

Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:

  • Listen to the recorded dictation of a physician or other healthcare worker
  • Interpret and transcribe the dictation for medical reports, such as patient histories, discharge summaries, and physical examinations
  • Review and edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software, making sure that the transcription is accurate, complete, and consistent in style
  • Translate medical abbreviations and jargon into the appropriate long form
  • Identify inconsistencies, errors, and missing information in a report that could compromise patient care
  • Submit reports to physicians and other healthcare providers for review and approval
  • Follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements
  • Enter medical reports into electronic health records (EHR) systems

Medical transcriptionists use a variety of equipment to produce reports. The most common is speech recognition technology, which involves specialized software that automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then listens to the voice file and reviews the draft for accuracy, identifying any errors and editing the report, as necessary. A less common technology requires these workers to use audio-playback equipment for listening to and transcribing dictation. Transcriptionists also use word-processing and other software to prepare the transcripts, as well as medical reference materials when needed.

Medical transcriptionists must be familiar with medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. Additionally, they must have knowledge of English grammar in order to ensure that their transcriptions are correct. Transcriptionists’ ability to understand the healthcare worker's recording, to correctly transcribe that information, and to identify inaccuracies in the transcript is critical to preventing ineffective or even harmful treatment.

Medical transcriptionists who work in physicians’ offices may have other duties, such as answering phones and greeting patients.

Work Environment About this section

Medical transcriptionists
Medical transcriptionists may receive dictation and submit drafts electronically.

Medical transcriptionists held about 59,600 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of medical transcriptionists were as follows:

Administrative and support services 43%
Offices of physicians 25
Hospitals; state, local, and private 12
Self-employed workers 5
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 2

Administrative and support services includes companies that provide transcription services and temporary help firms.

Medical transcriptionists may work from home, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically. Their work may be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate and completed within a quick turnaround time.

Work Schedules

Most medical transcriptionists are full time, but part-time work is common. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and may have flexibility in determining their schedules.

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist About this section

Medical transcriptionists
Medical transcription programs may be offered online by vocational schools, community colleges, and career institutes.

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education that leads to a certificate. Prospective medical transcriptionists must know basic medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and rules of grammar. Some choose to become certified.

Education

Employers may prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary education in medical transcription. Medical transcription programs may be offered online as well as in person by vocational schools, community colleges, and career institutes. They vary in length but typically may be completed in less than 1 year; programs that lead to an associate's degree may take longer.

Programs typically include coursework in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, laws relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. These programs may include the opportunity to gain experience through supervised transcription. Prospective transcriptionists who are familiar with medical terminology from working in other healthcare occupations, such as nursing assistants or medical secretaries, may become proficient through refresher courses and training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. For example, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) certifications. Both certifications require passing an exam and are valid for a specified number of years. In order to recertify, individuals must earn continuing education credits.

The RHDS certification is for recent graduates with little experience who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a physician’s office. The CHDS certification is for transcriptionists who currently hold the RHDS designation. In addition, CHDS candidates must have a specified number of years of experience in acute care, including experience handling dictation in various medical specialties.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must know how to operate electronic health records (EHR) systems and should be comfortable using software to prepare reports.

Critical-thinking skills. Medical transcriptionists must assess medical reports and correct any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in finished drafts.

Listening skills. Medical transcriptionists must pay attention to hear and interpret the intended meaning of dictations.

Time-management skills. Medical transcriptionists must organize their schedules well because they may need to produce transcriptions under tight deadlines.

Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of English grammar in order to ensure that transcribed reports are correct.

Pay About this section

Medical Transcriptionists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Other healthcare support occupations

$37,370

Medical transcriptionists

$30,100

 

The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $30,100 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,190.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for medical transcriptionists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Medical and diagnostic laboratories $46,150
Hospitals; state, local, and private 38,360
Offices of physicians 36,750
Administrative and support services 29,120

Some medical transcriptionists are paid based on the volume of transcription they produce. Others are paid an hourly rate or an annual salary.

Most medical transcriptionists are full time, but part-time work is common. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and have some flexibility in determining their schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Medical Transcriptionists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Other healthcare support occupations

12%

Total, all occupations

5%

Medical transcriptionists

-7%

 

Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 7 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 9,300 openings for medical transcriptionists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Technological advances in speech recognition and electronic health records (EHR) software allow physicians to document some information in the moment, reducing the need for medical transcriptionists. In addition, these technologies increase medical transcriptionists' productivity, allowing more transcription by fewer workers.

Meanwhile, as healthcare providers seek to cut costs, some will contract out transcription services and not do in-house transcription.

Employment projections data for medical transcriptionists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Medical transcriptionists

31-9094 59,600 55,700 -7 -3,900 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of medical transcriptionists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Court reporters Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners

Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Simultaneous captioners provide similar transcriptions for television or for presentations in other settings, such as press conferences and business meetings, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Postsecondary nondegree award $60,380
Health information technologists and medical registrars Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars

Health information technologists and medical registrars advise organizations on computerized healthcare systems and analyze clinical data.

Associate's degree $55,560
Information clerks Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties, maintain records, collect data, and provide information to customers.

See How to Become One $37,450
Interpreters and translators Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language.

Bachelor's degree $49,110
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities.

Postsecondary nondegree award $37,190
Medical records and health information technicians Medical Records Specialists

Medical records specialists compile, process, and maintain patient files.

Postsecondary nondegree award $46,660
Receptionists Receptionists

Receptionists do tasks such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing information about their organization to the public.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,950
Secretaries and administrative assistants Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants do routine clerical and organizational tasks.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,680
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Transcriptionists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm (visited November 09, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.