Medical transcriptionists transcribe voice recordings from doctors and other health professionals, and they review reports transcribed through voice-recognition software to correct errors. Medical transcriptionists must complete post-secondary training that teaches them how to use the appropriate software, establishes a foundation of medical terminology, and provides practice with transcribing techniques. Most medical transcriptionist programs take about two years to complete, but some can be finished in as little as six months.
Medical transcriptionists have to learn much more than how to type quickly and accurately. Course work in a medical transcriptionist program often includes English courses, incorporating basic English grammar, as well as medical style and the proper style for the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, and medical courses, such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology and laboratory medicine. Technological courses focus on practical skills using word-processing software and transcribing recordings. Vocabulary is a major focus of most course work, including medical root words, pharmaceutical technology and surgical vocabulary. These words can be quite complex, and it is important for medical transcriptionists to be familiar with them for accurate transcribing.
Practical experience in the form of an internship or a laboratory with a simulated working environment is included in most medical transcriptionist programs. At The Andrews School in Oklahoma, students complete 3,412 minutes of physician-dictated medical records, including 1,048 reports that comprise both general medicine and specialties. Students also must meet with a physician to transcribe 2,122 minutes in real time. Additional minutes are available for students who want extra training. At Meditec School -- based in Texas with a campus in Utah -- students can complete a three-month internship program that includes mentorship and training from professional medical transcription editors and practitioners.
Though it is not required that medical transcriptionists be certified to begin practice, students can complete certification after graduation to attain specialization and make themselves more competitive for jobs. AHDI offers two certification programs: the Registered Medical Transcriptionist, or RMT, and the Certified Medical Transcriptionist, or CMT. To obtain certification, applicants must pass an examination administered by Prometric for AHDI. Recent graduates can apply for the RMT, but applicants for the CMT must have at least two years of experience in acute-care transcription.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical transcriptionists are only expected to grow 6 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is slower than average for other industries. The BLS reported that the average salary for medical transcriptionists was $32,900 per year in 2010. Certification may improve job prospects. Advance Magazine for Health Information Professionals published the results of a survey in 2004 that showed that certified medical transcriptionists earned an average of $43,551 per year.
2016 Salary Information for Medical Transcriptionists
Medical transcriptionists earned a median annual salary of $35,720 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical transcriptionists earned a 25th percentile salary of $28,660, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $43,700, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 57,400 people were employed in the U.S. as medical transcriptionists.