By Trey Patrick
So how much can you expect to earn as a medical transcriptionist?
I know you’re going to hate this answer, but…it depends. Medical transcription is listed as one of the fastest growing careers and will be for the next several years. That’s good news!
Listen to this, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor‘s May, 2005 statistics regarding medical transcription, the hourly mean wage was $14.36 and the annual mean wage was $29,880. This is up from the previous year, which is good considering some job wages are going down.
The five top paying states in order were Alaska, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Now, if you don’t live in one of the top five states, don’t worry!
I live in Georgia and make a lot more than the “average” the DOL has listed and there’s a good chance you will too! The pay starting out at your first job (which may be in a doctor’s office, hospital, or online service) usually is pretty modest.
The good side of that is that many times you get benefits such as paid leave and insurance. If it’s the top salary you are going for, just be patient. Self-employed MTs can earn significantly more than MT employees.
Of course, they have to take out taxes and get their own insurance either privately or through their spouse’s company but the rewards are many!
Most MTs are paid by the line, for example if you earn $0.10 per line and you type 1000 lines, you earn $100.
You can either then let the word processing program (Word or Word Perfect) tell you how many lines there are or, in some older programs, you may need to get the word count, then divide by 11 to get the line count. Most line counts are made by dividing the number of words by 11 since a line has an average of 11 words in it). The going rate is anywhere from as low as $0.05 per line (for beginners) to $0.14 per line and even more. In my area the average is $0.08 to $0.12 per line.
Try not to take a job where you are paid by the hour.
You will make less money and you will be tempted to hurry and may make careless errors, thereby not delivering good quality.
Also, ONE WORD OF WARNING!!!!! OK, two words, Be Patient!
When you first start out, you will feel like you are making $2.00 per hour once you add your lines and multiply by your rate, then divide by how much time you spent typing.
I remember sitting at the computer one night in tears because I had just worked for 4 HOURS transcribing one tape and had earned a whopping $4.50 per hour! I thought, “I can’t do this! It’s not worth it!” It was sooooo frustrating!
But do you know what was causing me to be so “slow”? It wasn’t my typing speed (which by the way you can go to www.careerstep.com, click the top link for “free typing test” and it will time you for one minute and give you feedback regarding your accuracy and score)… it was having to stop and look up words every 30 seconds.
The faster you learn the medical terms, the faster you will do your work and the more you will get paid. At first it is hard because you aren’t sure what the doctor is saying and if it’s really unclear, you have to try looking up a word you can’t even begin to spell.
If you hear the word clearly but don’t know how to spell it, you may have to stop and pull out one of your reference books and look up the correct spelling, OR if you have someone else editing your work you may have to write this out for that person to look up. This all takes time. This is also where good reference books, good training (medical terminology course for sure!), and a GREAT medical spell checker (that can catch many of the misspelled words as you type) come in.
All of these resources will increase your speed and your quality, thereby increasing your pay considerably! Just don’t give up! You will want to at first, I did too!!! And so many other MTs I have talked to say the same thing.
You are in good company. But we are so glad we didn’t give up and you will be too!
By the way, that same 4 Hour tape today would take me about 45 minutes which comes to roughly $27.00 per hour.
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