How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Learn what you'll need to do in order to start your medical transcriptionist career.

The Basics

What you'll do: Medical transcriptionists create reports and other administrative documents from physicians' dictated recordings. In addition to transcribing, you'll edit information for grammar errors and proper usage of medical terms in a patient's records. You'll need an  in-depth knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, medical procedures and treatments, and pharmacology—as well as a high degree of attention to detail. Medical transcriptionists must also be aware of the legal standards and requirements that apply to health records.

Where you'll work: Hospitals, clinics, physicians' offices, nursing homes, public health agencies and home health care agencies. Some medical transcriptionists work at home as employees of transcription businesses or as independent contractors.

Degree you'll need: Certificate, diploma or associate's degree

Median annual salary: $34,020*

Education and Training

how to become a medical transcriptionist

In addition to having your GED or high school diploma, you'll need to complete a certified medical transcription training program, usually a 6-month to 2-year certificate, diploma or associate's degree program.

Graduates must understand medical terms, their meanings, spelling and pronunciation, and possess hands-on transcription experience.

Course work generally includes the following subjects:

  • English composition and grammar
  • Computer applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Pathology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical transcription skills

Medical Transcriptionist Certification

Certification is optional, but highly recommended. Medical transcriptionists who pass the national exam given by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) will earn the title Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT). Every 3 years, CMTs must earn continuing education credits to be re-certified.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Medical Transcriptionists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.