How Much Do Transcriptionists Make? - Woman at Laptop

If you’re looking into transcription as a potential new earning opportunity, you’re probably wondering, “How much do transcriptionists make?”

Transcription is a job that lends itself extremely well to remote work, which is why it’s so popular amongst freelancers. It’s a job that often requires very little prior experience and the skills required can be easily developed and practiced (see these free online typing tests to hone your skills). It’s pretty clear, then, why more and more people are looking to transcription as a way of generating a second stream of income or even replacing their regular current job.

However, the rates of pay within this line of work tend to be the area where confusion arises; it can be difficult to gain a clear understanding of exactly how much transcriptionists typically earn.

In the past, transcription work has been notoriously underpaid and transcriptionists have found themselves working long hours for very little money. Progress has definitely been made in recent years, with more companies committing to paying fair wages. But lots of typists still find themselves being exploited and expected to work at rates that fall well below minimum wage requirements, while others appear to be earning extremely high amounts, enabling them to quit their regular job and make transcription their full-time career.

So, how do you know where you’re likely to fall? How do you avoid exploitative jobs and earn a respectable amount as a transcriptionist? Well, we’re going to take a look at how much the average transcriptionist makes and how this is affected by the type of job and the methods or platforms used to acquire work in this industry.

We will also go through the best transcription jobs and how you can maximize your earnings.

How Much Do Transcriptionists Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average US-based work-from-home transcriptionist earns an average annual salary of $58.441. In terms of an hourly rate, this falls at around $28 earned for every hour worked. This is significantly higher than the minimum wage rates in all states and is what most people would consider being a highly respectable salary.

ZipRecruiter also reports an entry-level salary of $34,814, so those who are starting out may need some time and experience to reach the average salary of $58,441.

However, it’s important to remember that these are purely averages. There are lots of transcriptionists earning significantly less than this, and also some earning substantially more.

ZipRecruiter also doesn’t distinguish between company employees and self-employed or freelance transcriptionists. Since paid employees are legally entitled to minimum wage and other employee benefits such as sick pay or holiday pay, their salaries are likely to be typically higher than freelancers, since most states don’t impose minimum wage requirements for this kind of work.

So, while it might be interesting to see how much the transcription wage in the US averages out at, this figure is of little use to us since it includes so many different variables and factors.

Most transcriptionists work as freelancers and use online platforms to find their work and connect with clients. After looking through many of the top transcription platforms, it appears that the average hourly rate for this kind of transcription work falls more towards the $10 mark or less. But again, this is an average and will vary depending on the platform being used, your skill and experience level, your location, and the type of work you’re specializing in.

Related: How to Become a Transcriptionist and Work from Home

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How are Transcriptionists Paid?

When using an online transcription platform to find work, more often than not, a transcriptionist will be paid either per word typed, or per audio minute transcribed. This is where things can get a little complicated. Since most transcription platforms don’t pay per hour or even minute worked, it is very difficult to estimate how much each individual job or project will actually pay.

The job’s rate per audio minute might seem reasonable, but once you start the job, you might find that it is extremely complex or the audio quality is bad, so you will in fact end up spending much longer on this one project, while still being limited to only a set wage.

It is here that the many issues with transcription wages are uncovered since these online platforms tend to pay for the work completed, rather than the time spent completing it.

To give us a better idea of how much these platforms actually pay, let’s take a look at some of the most popular options:

Popular Online Transcription Platforms

We will take a look at the average payment rates of three popular transcription platforms.

On average, it’s said to take a reasonably skilled transcriptionist four minutes to transcribe one minute of audio, this is the formula we will use to establish the average hourly rates for each of these platforms, and see how they compare to the salary cited on ZipRecruiter.


Starting with one of the most well-known and widely used transcription platforms, TranscribeMe offers an average rate of $15-$20 per audio hour transcribed. When translated into hours worked, this works out at around $3.75-$5.00 per hour.

Clearly, this is significantly less than the $30 average hourly rate stated by ZipRecruiter.


With a maximum rate of $0.60 per audio minute, GoTranscript’s hourly rate works out at anywhere up to $9.00 per hour worked. Again, this is much less than the national $30 average for transcriptionists, but is still more than the average national minimum wage, although this is the very top end of the payment rates offered on GoTranscript, so it’s likely that plenty of typists are earning much less than this on the site.

Transcript Divas

As one of the highest-paying transcription platforms, Transcript Divas offer an average of $1.39 per audio minute transcribed. At this rate, you’re looking at around $28 per hour, which is not far off the average hourly rate stated on ZipRecruiter.

It is worth bearing in mind, however, that Transcript Divas only accept freelancers of the highest caliber. The work is extremely demanding and prior professional experience is looked upon favorably. So it seems that beginners are likely to come away with much less than the $28 average, if they are accepted onto the platform at all.

Learn more about our top-rated transcription platforms here.

So, Are Transcription Platforms a Good Option?

It seems pretty clear that transcription platforms don’t generally offer the highest rates of pay. Often, the wages fall well below minimum wage and freelancers can be expected to complete demanding projects without much reward. These platforms do come with their own advantages though. Let’s see how these weigh up:

Advantages of Using Online Transcription Platforms

  • They provide a straightforward and secure way of meeting potential clients and securing work
  • Those with extensive prior experience or skill are able to compete for the highest paid jobs
  • Payments are made securely through the platform, so no need to chase up invoices or missed payments

Disadvantages of Using Online Transcription Platforms

  • Rates of pay are typically extremely low.
  • You’re likely to be subjected to numerous fees, deductions, and commissions before actually receiving your pay. You might also have to wait until you have earned a set amount before being able to access your pay.
  • The work tends to be less stable and you might have an inconsistent workload due to the highly saturated pool of freelancers working on the site.
  • Because the work is largely project-based, it is much more difficult to build professional networks and relationships with clients.

Related: Transcription Equipment: What You Need to Get Started

Is There a Way To Earn More From Transcription?

Yes! Transcription platforms might give freelancers an easy way of connecting with clients and securing work, but we’ve established that they tend to offer pretty poor rates of pay.

So how do you go about finding and securing transcription work that also comes with higher rates of pay? Start with bypassing these transcription platforms entirely.

By starting up your own transcription business and advertising your services directly to potential clients, you cut out the middle man and any fees, commissions, or payment restrictions that come along with it.

Instead of looking for work or advertising your services on these transcription platforms, carry out some research and identify companies that may require this service, and then contact them directly offering your services. You can also post ads online and on local corporate bulletin boards.

Without a doubt, this is likely to entail more hard work than simply signing up to a website, and you might find that it takes longer to secure your first contract, but by offering discounted services and building professional networks and relationships, this option is likely to become much more lucrative than any of the aforementioned transcription platforms..

By following this route, your transcription business could end up being a highly profitable full-time earner, rather than a side hustle that involves extensive work for very little reward.

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How Much Do Transcriptionists Make? Final Thoughts

It is clear that the rates of pay acquired by transcriptionists can vary pretty dramatically.

Those in full-time employment will receive completely different rates of pay to those working on a freelance basis, and rates are also influenced by any platform that you choose to work with, the types of jobs you choose to take on, and your own level of skill or experience.

When working as a transcriptionist, or embarking upon a new career in transcription, the most lucrative option appears to be working as an independent freelancer without the use of any online platforms or listing sites. If you’re wondering “How much do transcriptionists make?”, the answer really depends on whether they’re freelancing for their own clients or working for a major platform.

While it can be tempting to work for low rates simply to gain experience and secure jobs, it is important to know the value of your work and avoid opportunities that are likely to leave you working for well below minimum wage.

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