What Transcription Equipment Do You Need For a Transcription Career?

Would you like to work at home as a transcriptionist? Are you confused as to what transcription equipment you will need to buy? Then this article is for you.

Many workers dream of working from home as a transcriptionist, but not all of them are aware of how much equipment or software to buy.

Working at home as a transcriptionist is different than working in a brick and mortar setting, because you will be taking the transcription from your computer instead of a person or Dictaphone. So, how much do you really need? What would the basics be?

What Are the Eight Major Pieces of Transcription Equipment or Software You Will Need?

Unless you are transcribing the one-minute and under transcription hits on Amazon Mechanical Turk, then you will probably want to invest money in buying a few items. Most transcribers need a:

  • USB headset
  • transcription software
  • foot pedal
  • text expander
  • time tracking software
  • industry-specific dictionary (legal or medical)
  • regular dictionary or thesaurus (online or offline)
  • grammar and spelling checker
  • file converter

We will take a look at each one in more detail and what they do, and more importantly where you can buy each one.

How Do I Select a Headset?

An article was already previously written and appeared on this blog about headsets. A good USB Headset will plug into your laptop or computer.

While there are a many good ones out there, the best seem to be the Plantronics brand. You don't necessarily need a noise-cancelling headset, but it's always good to buy that type as you can use it for other things should you ever give up transcription. You can buy new or used to save money.

A few good ones on Amazon are:

What Are Good Transcription Software Packages?

Inqscribe.com is great to be used with both video and audio. GearPlayer is also another good one for doing both and is sold regularly on Amazon. Not all software can be used with video.

Other great software for using with just audio is Express Scribe which is the companion to Express Dictate. Express Scribe can be used with or without a foot pedal. Should you choose to use it without the foot pedal, Express Scribe offers hotkeys that can be used instead of using the foot pedal.

The hotkeys will stop the tape, pause it or do just about anything that a foot pedal would do. Express Scribe is about $30 for a one-time purchase. Then NCH Software, the developers, will offer updates and inform you of those. I personally love Express Scribe.

All three of these software packages come with time stamping capabilities.

Why Should You Invest in a Good Foot Pedal?

A good foot pedal will free up your hands so that you are not constantly having to stop and pause the tape using hotkeys. The less other things your hands have to do, the more you can type.

Express Scribe offers its own foot pedal on the NCH website or you can purchase it with or without the software on Amazon.

What is a Text Expander and Why Do You Need It?

Even if you type over 100 wpm, some commonly used words and phrases are better to use with a text expander. A text expander will allow you to type a code or few keys in and it will act as a macro and type the rest of the longer phrase or commonly used phrase for you.

One very good text expander is ExpressPhrase and it will allow you to do just that. It will work with Windows or an Android phone.

Do You Really Need Time Tracking Software for Your Transcription?

This will really depend upon the relationship you have with your client. If you are paid via the hour and the client has no other way to track your time, then you may want to invest in your own time tracking software.

A few good ones are TraxTime (one I have personally used), and TimeCamp.

What Books Will You Need to Do Transcription?

This will depend upon what type of transcription you are doing. Are you doing legal transcription, medical or general?

If you are doing medical, then you may want to go to Amazon and purchase Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.

If you are doing legal, you may want to get a good legal dictionary such as Black’s Law Dictionary.

You will probably also want to purchase just a regular dictionary or thesaurus if you do not already have one, or go to http://www.merriam-webster.com for both.

What Are Other Grammar and Spelling Checkers Besides the Ones in Microsoft Word?

Grammarly and Ginger are both nice and cost around $30 a month or you can use Paperrater for free. It also doesn’t hurt to use what Microsoft Word already offers.

What Would You Use a File Converter For in Transcription?

Sometimes a client will request that the final draft be converted to a PDF or sometimes the transcription file may be a format that you are unable to open. You can go to Zamzar for free and convert your file to another format.

Well, there you have it. If you are really serious about transcription work, then this article should help you plan your new work-at-home adventure.

Want to Know More About Work at Home Transcription and How to Get Started?

If you've read the above reasons for getting into transcription as a work at home career and you're thirsty for more information, I recommend Janet Shaugnessy's FREE transcription training workshop!

Janet has been in the transcription business for over 16 years now.

transcription workshop

This explores how to build a business using your typing, writing, and editing skills.

You'll learn how much you can earn, where the work comes from, how to determine if you are cut out for it, and a lot more.


8 thoughts on “What Transcription Equipment Do You Need For a Transcription Career?”

  1. I am disabled and I am discriminated because walk with cane and have kyphosis of upper back. But I am able to work part-time and have 30 years in medical field. So I started to check into work at home options, Your blog has help me so much! The sites you recommended are a great source of information. Thank you again you have helped start my at home transcription business.\


  2. Thank you so much for these two blog posts something that caught my eye and my enthusiasm. I have always wanted to work from home. And transcripting notes is one of my favorites. You have laid out the tools needed to get started and after I do a course in either the general, medical or legal business I hope to pursue this. Thank you again for giving me that motivation.

  3. Thank you so much for these two blog posts, I’m getting ready to take a medical transcription course. Once I get my equipment, I can do general transcription work until I finish.

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