What Is Medical Transcription?

Medical transcription is the transfer of oral dictation from doctors and other medical professionals into text, and it is essential for medical professionals to keep detailed medical histories of their patients. Read on to learn more about this field, its educational requirements and its economic outlook. Schools offering Medical Transcription degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Description

Medical transcriptionists keep detailed and up-to-date records of all doctors' interactions with patients. Doctors who keep oral notes on tape recorders or scribble in shorthand need their notes transcribed so that they can be easily accessed and understood by themselves and other professionals. By having their notes transcribed, doctors can provide more consistent care, as they can look through years of medical history and offer patients care that is tailored for their individual conditions and histories.

Today, medical transcription work is often contracted out to companies or individuals certified in the field. These providers all conform to the same formats and standards so medical records can easily be shared between different doctors, hospitals and countries. Doctors rely on medical transcriptionists to not only type and format their notes, but also to edit them for clarity and check them for consistency. New technologies, such as speech recognition programs, may change the face of the field in the future.

Important Facts About Medical Transcriptionists

On-the-Job Training None provided
Licensure None needed
Work Environment Home offices
Similar Occupations Court reporters, information clerks, medical assistants, medical records and health information technicians, receptionists, secretaries and administrative assistants


To work in the field of medical transcription usually requires completion of a certificate or associate's degree program. These programs cover the medical terminology and formats frequently used in the field, as well as anatomy and physiology, English and health care legal issues. Many of these programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools and take a year or two to complete.

In addition, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity and the American Health Information Management Association both offer voluntary certifications sometimes required by employers.


Medical transcriptionists must know how to use word processing applications and electronic health records systems. They also need strong writing, listening and organizational skills. A detail-oriented approach and strong critical-thinking abilities are essential as well.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical transcriptionists can expect a decline of 3% in employment opportunities between 2016 and 2026. As of May 2018, the BLS listed a median annual income of $34,770 for medical transcriptionists. The bottom ten percent of earners received $21,840 or less annually, while the top ten percent earned $51,780 or more.

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