Medical transcriptionists are responsible for transcribing recordings of medical reports to make computerized documents, editing as needed for clarity, for proper medical terminology and for grammatical accuracy. The reports typically describe patient condition and medical procedures and are usually dictated by physicians and other health care professionals onto tape or digital voice files. This document is returned to the health care provider who dictated it and, after approval, becomes part of the patient's official medical record.

Day in the Life of a Medical Transcriptionist

As patients, most of us interact primarily with doctors, nurses and medical secretaries. But there are many other people working critical jobs behind the scenes in the health care system. Medical transcriptionists (also called MTs) are among these people, as they play a pivotal role in patient care by creating a written record of doctor/patient interactions.

After seeing a patient, a doctor dictates a description of the interaction and sends the recording to an MT, who then listens and transcribes what the doctor has said. In this process, the MT calls upon her training in medical terminology and health care practices to interpret abbreviations, and to catch and correct errors in the doctor's audio report.

This document is then returned to the doctor (or another health care provider who dictated it) and, after being approved, it is considered a part of the patient's official medical record.

Medical transcriptionists can be found working in hospitals, private doctors' offices, labs, outpatient clinics and residential care centers. Some MTs work on a freelance basis or are contract employees for medical transcription companies; these MTs often work from home.

Important Characteristics for a Medical Transcriptionist

To be successful as a medical transcriptionist, an applicant should have excellent hearing, a firm grasp of grammar and the English language, knowledge of medical jargon and a working proficiency with computers and applicable software. An MT should also be scrupulous, detail-oriented and exercise good judgment.

Education Requirements

There are no strict medical transcriptionist education requirements, but most MTs choose to earn an associate degree or a certificate in medical transcription. Medical transcription training programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools, and as distance learning programs. Be sure to choose a school accredited by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Medical transcriptionist programs typically last one year and often include hands-on training.

An alternative to earning an associate degree is to pursue an apprenticeship program offered by the Medical Transcription Industry Association, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor. Candidates must have graduated from an ACCP-approved program and have earned the RMT credential (see below). The apprenticeship offers a structured form of on-the-job learning and technical instruction.

Certification is not required to work as an MT, but many employers prefer to hire candidates who have been certified in medical transcription. The Approval Committee for Certificate Programs, established jointly by the AHDI and the American Health Information Management Association, offers two voluntary designations for MTs:

  • Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) — MTs with fewer than two years of experience in acute care or who have just graduated from an MT program are eligible for this designation. The RMT makes you eligible for a Registered Apprenticeship Program (see above).
  • Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) — MTs with more than two years of acute care experience are eligible for the CMT. Earning this certification may help you position yourself to take on more complex assignments and train other MTs.

Career Tips

  • Be tech-savvy. Technology plays a large role in the medical field, and it is ever-evolving. Keeping up with the latest technology may provide greater job security as time goes on.
  • Upgrade your certification. As soon as you are eligible, consider taking your career to the next level by passing a test to become a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).


  • Medical Transcriptionists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
  • Summary Report for Medical Transcriptionists, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9094.00, accessed September 2017

Medical Transcriptionist Skills

Below are the skills needed to be medical transcriptionist according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening43.62
Reading Comprehension3.884
Time Management3.252.75

Medical Transcriptionist Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be medical transcriptionist according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension4.54.5
Written Comprehension4.124.25
Written Expression44.12
Speech Recognition3.884.12
Near Vision3.753.88

Medical Transcriptionist Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be medical transcriptionist according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
English Language4.774.58
Computers and Electronics3.54.27
Medicine and Dentistry3.122.73
Customer and Personal Service2.552.51

Medical Transcriptionist Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being medical transcriptionist according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.753.6
Documenting/Recording Information4.63.96
Getting Information4.543.94
Processing Information4.033.6
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge3.94.34

Medical Transcriptionist Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being medical transcriptionist according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.54

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Medical Transcriptionist

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Medical Transcriptionist jobs , as of 2017

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater1,630$37,910
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington1,550$50,560
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim1,150$47,790
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell980$35,650
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach770$36,610
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land750$47,280
San Antonio-New Braunfels740$22,930

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Medical Transcriptionists

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to medical transcriptionists

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

Most Popular Industries for
Medical Transcriptionist

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

IndustryTotal EmploymentPercentAnnual Median Salary
Medical Office31,21036%$31,470
Office Services And Staffing14,05016%$30,340
Business Management1,2601%$35,270
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