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Medical Transcriptionists

At a Glance

  • Spend a great deal of time transcribing dictation
  • Work with doctors and patients
  • Work in medical offices
  • Are heavy computer users
  • May work part time or full time
  • Most train though one- or two-year programs

Career summary

Medical transcriptionists listen to taped recordings of medical procedures and transcribe them into written reports.

Transcriptionists interpret and transcribe information related to a patient's:

The transcription report becomes part of a patient's file. The files are used by physicians and health care providers to document a patient's medical care. The files are sometimes referred to for insurance billing or legal proceedings.

Transcriptionists must be able to:

They must also be familiar with computers and word processing software. In addition, they must follow specific codes of ethics. Patient information must be kept confidential.

Some transcriptionists also perform light office duties, such as filing and answering phones. It is also common for many to work from home, either on a freelance basis or as telecommuters.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to medical transcriptionists.

Common work activities

Medical transcriptionists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, medical transcriptionists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Medical transcriptionists frequently:

It is important for medical transcriptionists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for medical transcriptionists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Medical transcriptionists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a medical transcriptionist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most medical transcriptionists have some formal training beyond high school. Business and vocational schools and community colleges offer one- and two-year programs. It is increasingly common to complete a two-year associate degree program before working as a medical transcriptionist. These programs offer courses in medical terminology, word processing, and grammar.

You need basic office skills such as accounting, keyboarding, filing, and recordkeeping. In addition, you need excellent spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You also need to know medical terminology and stenography.

Work experience

Some people prepare for this occupation through work experience. You can work your way up through clerical jobs at medical offices, learning new skills at each one.

On-the-job training

New graduates may work under the guidance of experienced medical transcriptionists. You work independently and on more difficult tasks as you gain knowledge and experience. Training usually lasts up to three months.

Because of the fast changing nature of this field, employers may offer training in the newest office technologies, terminology, and software.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers prefer medical transcriptionists who have had specialized training or experience in a medical field. In addition, nearly all employers require knowledge of word processing and database management programs. Employers look for applicants who are fast and accurate typists and who know how to operate Dictaphones. They also look for people who have good spelling and grammar skills. Employers prefer applicants who have good people skills. Good judgment and organizational ability are also helpful.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Medical transcriptionists (SOC 31-9094)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $13.13 $14.94 $18.12 $21.96 $26.90
Monthly $2,275 $2,589 $3,140 $3,806 $4,662
Yearly $27,320 $31,080 $37,690 $45,690 $55,950
    Bellingham Hourly $17.01 $18.20 $20.19 $22.63 $24.72
Monthly $2,948 $3,154 $3,499 $3,922 $4,284
Yearly $35,369 $37,849 $41,990 $47,072 $51,424
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $12.99 $14.10 $17.25 $21.32 $25.33
Monthly $2,251 $2,444 $2,989 $3,695 $4,390
Yearly $27,027 $29,321 $35,866 $44,356 $52,675
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $13.65 $14.98 $18.25 $21.45 $25.67
Monthly $2,366 $2,596 $3,163 $3,717 $4,449
Yearly $28,400 $31,153 $37,950 $44,614 $53,384
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $15.56 $17.29 $18.75 $20.20 $21.04
Monthly $2,697 $2,996 $3,249 $3,501 $3,646
Yearly $32,373 $35,952 $39,010 $42,020 $43,769
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $12.64 $13.43 $14.74 $21.56 $24.66
Monthly $2,191 $2,327 $2,554 $3,736 $4,274
Yearly $26,297 $27,930 $30,652 $44,840 $51,293
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $14.19 $16.53 $19.62 $24.29 $29.31
Monthly $2,459 $2,865 $3,400 $4,209 $5,079
Yearly $29,523 $34,399 $40,805 $50,522 $60,967
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $12.98 $14.44 $17.22 $19.37 $20.62
Monthly $2,249 $2,502 $2,984 $3,357 $3,573
Yearly $27,013 $30,038 $35,809 $40,285 $42,897
    Vancouver Hourly $12.84 $14.37 $18.18 $23.91 $29.05
Monthly $2,225 $2,490 $3,151 $4,144 $5,034
Yearly $26,710 $29,893 $37,803 $49,733 $60,423
    Wenatchee Hourly $14.24 $15.77 $18.42 $21.93 $24.65
Monthly $2,468 $2,733 $3,192 $3,800 $4,272
Yearly $29,634 $32,800 $38,312 $45,615 $51,260
    Yakima Hourly $17.39 $19.37 $21.09 $23.27 $24.58
Monthly $3,014 $3,357 $3,655 $4,033 $4,260
Yearly $36,162 $40,283 $43,858 $48,411 $51,143
United States Hourly $10.50 $12.70 $16.72 $20.91 $24.89
Monthly $1,820 $2,201 $2,898 $3,624 $4,313
Yearly $21,840 $26,410 $34,770 $43,490 $51,780

There are several methods for determining the amount of pay for transcriptionists. Some are paid based on the number of lines they transcribe. Others are paid by the hour. Some receive bonuses if they exceed the expected amount of work.

Transcriptionists who work full time for a hospital or doctor's office are likely to receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Medical Transcriptionists (SOC 31-9094)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 1,251 -6.2% 16.1% 126
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 18 -16.7% 13.4% 2
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 29 -13.8% 8.6% 3
    Benton and Franklin Counties 59 -8.5% 15.0% 6
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 22 -13.6% 11.9% 2
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 158 -14.6% 15.2% 12
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 72 -13.9% 14.1% 6
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 56 -12.5% 14.6% 4
    King County 312 -6.4% 19.6% 31
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 28 -17.9% 13.8% 1
    Pierce County 157 -1.3% 15.2% 17
    Snohomish County 235 6.0% 12.4% 31
    Spokane County 142 -11.3% 13.9% 12
United States 58,000 -3.4% 5.2% 7,700

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will decline. Automation will slow growth. Speech recognition technology is making transcriptionists more productive, and as a result, fewer transcriptionists will be needed. An increase in the aging population will create some demand for medical transcription services. Older people are more likely to receive medical tests and treatments that require documentation.

Job openings will occur as people leave the occupation. Job prospects will be best for those with electronic medical records experience.

Other resources

American Health Information Management Association Career Page (external link)
What is Health Information?
Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (external link)
4120 Dale Road, Suite J8-233
Modesto, CA 95356
Explore Health Careers: Healthcare Documentation Specialist (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational cluster