Have any questions? Talk to us on hello@smallbusiness.co.ke

Transcription is one of the easiest side hustles to start. You only need a laptop, stable internet, and reasonable typing speed.


How do you start? Where do you get jobs? How much money can you make? Is it free to join? What extra tools do you need?

These are some of the common questions that anyone who is interested in transcription has to contend with. And it is common for newbies to be overwhelmed by misinformation that is spread around by fake trainers.

Still, transcription is a skill that can be learned by anyone who has a good grasp of the English language. The average transcriber may take two hours to complete 5-minute audio, and this doesn’t include time spent finding specific keywords or phrases.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to make money from home without any investment and without selling anything, transcription might be the answer for you!

First things first,

What is transcription?

A transcriber or transcriptionist is a professional who converts audio files into text. Most of these audio and videos are in diverse fields.

Today, you might be working on an audio file from a book writer; the next day, it could be a meeting held by a multinational company.

The type of audio and video you might work on depends on the client. Here are some of the common videos and audio you might work on as a transcriber:

  • Interviews
  • Seminars
  • Sermons
  • Meetings
  • Lectures
  • Podcasts
  • Television shows
  • Pornography
  • Medical notes
  • Advertisements
  • Investigation
  • Speeches

Depending on the industry, it is common to work on files that have 2-3 speakers. On some occasions, an audio file might have many speakers.

Main types of transcription work

There are three types of transcribers

General transcriptionists

This is a common type of work that you’ll find on transcription websites. A general transcriber can transcribe any audio and video from any field.

Legal transcriptionist

Legal transcribers mainly work on files consisting of court sessions and law enforcement recordings.

Medical transcriptionist

Medical transcribers specialize in transcribing medical files from doctors, nurses, and researchers. Therefore, a medical transcriber must have some background in medicine or can quickly grasp medical terms.

Frequently asked questions about transcription work

What industries use transcriptionists?

With the extensive use of audio and video in the world, many industries may require the services of a transcriber. Here are some of the few:

  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Government
  • Medical
  • Legal
  • Entertainment

How many hours does a transcriber work?

Unlike a typical job where you have to work from 8 to 5, transcribers are free to set their own hours. That means you can start work at any time. It’s entirely up to you.   

Most Kenyan transcribers may work during the night due to time differences with their clients.

What skills do you need to be a transcriber?

There are a few skills that are required to work as a transcriber:

  • Ability to focus for long periods

You need to concentrate for long periods to complete the transcription promptly.

The most important skill for any transcriber is attention to detail. The accuracy of your transcription depends on how closely you listen and how accurately you type what was said in the recording.

  • Have computer knowledge

You must have basic computer knowledge to work as a transcriber. The job requires you to be able to use a computer and a keyboard and also work with audio files and video files.

  • Grammar, spelling, and punctuation accuracy

To work as a transcriber, you must have excellent grammar, spelling, and punctuation accuracy. You need to be able to type clearly and concisely to produce accurate transcripts.

  • Great listening skills

You also need to be able to listen closely and pay attention when transcribing audio files because sometimes the speaker may use words or phrases that sound similar but actually mean different things.

For example, the words “sight – site – cite” sound the same but have different meanings. This means that you need to pay close attention when listening so that you can accurately type out what is being said instead of just typing what sounds familiar or makes sense at first glance.

You can improve your listening skills by listening to many audio recordings to perfect foreign accents.

  • Typing speed and accuracy

Working as a transcriber is easier when you have excellent typing speed and accuracy. If you have to constantly check your keyboard before typing, then transcription may be really tough for you.

It is advisable to find typing tutorials online if you are doubtful about your typing speed.

What training do you need to work as a transcriber?

You don’t need any training to work as a transcriber as long as you have basic computer skills, decent typing speed, and the ability to research quickly.

You can work in any industry as a transcriber. But, if you have some background in law, then working for legal transcription companies or partnering with law firms will be the best choice for you.

How much can you earn as a transcriber?

You are paid on an hourly basis.

For example, if you are working on a 30-minute audio file and it takes you 6 hours to complete, you will be paid for the 30 minutes of audio and not the time it took you to transcribe the file.

Each company has a specific rate. For example, GoTranscript pays $15 per audio hour. The rate may increase depending on the audio quality and the deadline.

Audios with background noises are paid more. Also, shorter deadlines have higher rates.

As a beginner, you can make a cool $5 a day if you put in the time.

When working with individuals on Upwork or Fiverr, you can set your prices. Hence, you have a higher chance of making more money.

Experienced transcribers can make up to Kshs 50,000 a month working full-time, five days a week.

How do you get paid as a transcriber?

You will be paid using PayPal, Pioneer, or direct money transfer in most cases. The payment method is based on the client. Some websites only pay through PayPal, while others pay using both PayPal and Pioneer.

While applying for a transcription account, make sure you have an account with the required payment platform.

How long does it take to transcribe an hour of a video?

A more experienced person uses a shorter time to transcribe than a beginner. If you are starting out, it may take you up to 12 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio/video.

As with any transcription work, there are different levels of complexity depending on the subject matter and purpose of the transcriptions being produced.

Sometimes, the speaker may have a foregin accent that is difficult to understand. In that case, you must listen carefully to understand what’s being said. Other times, the audio/video is so clear that you may complete the work in half the required time.

Is it worth it to work online as a transcriber?

Yes, it is, especially if you are willing to commit the time to learn the tools of the trade. Transcription can pay very well, and the best thing is you work from the comfort of your home.

To work as a transcriber, it is recommended that you have a quiet place in your home where you can work without any distractions.

Where can I find transcription jobs?

Transcribers can find work with large companies that produce audio recordings, as well as small businesses that need help creating written documentation of their meetings or conferences.

Some transcribers are hired by lawyers who want transcripts of depositions or other proceedings related to their cases.

Most websites will demand that you take a transcription test before you start working for them. Once your account is approved, you can start working.

There are three places where you can get transcription jobs: take accounts, bidding accounts, and contacting potential clients.

Take accounts

A take account means that you can take any job on the site once your account is approved. Here are some of the common transcription take accounts:

  • Scribe
  • Transcribe Me
  • Go transcript
  • Crowd surf
  • Daily transcription

Bidding websites

A bidding website means that a client will post a gig on the platform, and you have to bid on it. You will, therefore, be competing with other transcribers on the platform. You also need to create an account on a bidding website, and you will only start bidding once your account is approved.

Here are common bidding websites:

Other places to get transcription jobs:

  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • Craigslist
  • LinkedIn
  • Company websites

Which transcription website is best for beginners?

GoTranscript and Fiverr are the best sites for beginners. They are easy to apply to and have jobs throughout the year.


Payment days vary from site to site. For example, some sites pay weekly while others pay twice a month.

What are the tools needed for you to be a transcriber?

  • A desktop or laptop
  • A good internet connection
  • Over-the-ear headphones

Can transcription be a side job?

Yes, transcription can be a side job. You can make money from home. All you need is to have a schedule that suits you.

You can spare a few hours to transcribe and earn some extra cash.

Do you pay taxes while transcribing?

Yes, you will have to pay your taxes to the government once you receive your earnings.

Do you need any experience to be a transcriber?

Some sites need you to be experienced, and others don’t require you to be experienced.

So it just depends on where you are looking for work.

Do you need money to apply for a transcription job?

No. You don’t have to pay any fees to get a transcription job. Anyone who charges for a job is most likely a con person.

Is there an age requirement to becoming a transcriber?

Yes! You need to be 18 years of age and above to work online as a transcriber. Payment platforms like PayPal require personal IDs when signing up for an account.

Can transcription be done on the phone?

No. To be able to type and edit on the phone is both tiresome and time-consuming. You may also need to install software programs that help with transcription. This cannot be done on your phone.

Transcription versus translation

Transcription is the conversion of spoken words into written text. It’s a process that requires attention to detail and involves listening to audio recordings or watching video footage to write down what was said.

The process is often used in journalism, research, and law enforcement but can also be used by anyone who needs to create a written record of something that was said during an interview or presentation.

On the other hand, translation is the process of converting one language into another. Translators are often asked to convert written materials from one language to another, but they may also be asked to convert spoken material.

Translating requires a deep understanding of two different languages and cultures in order to be able to make sense of each one properly in the other language without losing any nuance or meaning from one culture to another.

Wrapping up

Transcription may be ideal for you if you don’t mind sitting in front of a computer for long hours. The money you earn from your transcription work will directly depend on how much time you put in. Also, transcribing is flexible enough that you could make it a part-time or full-time job with ease.