Medical Transcriptionist: An Ideal Job for Military Spouses


>>Download PDF version here. TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is a Medical Transcriptionist?

  • What does a medical transcriptionist do?
  • What characteristics do I need in order to become a medical transcriptionist?
  • Where do medical transcriptionists work?
  • Who do medical transcriptionists work for? 
  • Where can I learn more about medical transcription?

How Do I Train for Medical Transcription?

  • What is the initial point of contact to begin MT education?
  • Which schools are approved? 
  • What should I ask when I contact an approved school?
  • Is distance-learning a good idea?
  • Why are some approved schools more expensive than others?
  • How long does it take to become a medical transcriptionist?

How Does Apprenticeship Work?

  • What is an apprenticeable occupation?
  • What role does government play in MT apprenticeship? 
  • Why does the Department of Labor consider this career appropriate for apprenticeship for military spouses?
  • How does Registered Apprenticeship work?
  • Are apprentices paid?
  • Whom does Registered Apprenticeship serve?
  • What is the point of contact for the MT Registered Apprenticeship Program? 

Can I Find Employment?

  • Will it be easy for me to get a job?
  • Can I work from home?
  • Can I be self-employed and/or own my own MT service?
  • What can I expect to be paid once educated and having fulfilled apprenticeship?
  • What happens when my family has a permanent change of duty station (PCS)?

Who Promotes Medical Transcription?

  • What professional organizations serve the needs of medical transcription? 
  • What credentials and designations are recognized by MT employers and peers?
  • Why are graduate certificates, professional credentials, and designations desirable?
  • What professional organizations represent medical transcriptionists?
  • Where can I find other military spouse MTs to talk to?

What is the Future of Medical Transcription?

  • How does speech recognition technology affect the future of medical transcription?
  • How does outsourcing affect the MT industry?
  • Strategic goals

What do Military Spouses Say about this Career?


What does a medical transcriptionist do?

In the broadest sense, medical transcription is the act of translating from oral to written form (on paper or electronically) the record of a person's encounter with a healthcare professional.  Medical transcriptionists (MTs) are specialists in medical language and healthcare documentation. They interpret and transcribe dictation by physicians and other healthcare professionals regarding patient assessment, workup, therapeutic procedures, clinical course, diagnosis, prognosis, etc., editing dictated material for grammar and clarity as necessary and appropriate.

Physicians and other healthcare providers employ state-of-the-art electronic technology to dictate and transmit highly technical and confidential information about their patients. These medical professionals rely on skilled medical transcriptionists to transform spoken words into comprehensive records that accurately communicate medical information. 



Through the Apprenticeship Agreement, an apprentice as an employee receives supervised, structured on-the-job training combined with related technical instruction.  Related instruction is a required component of an apprenticeship program which supplements the on-the-job training.  A minimum of 144 hours per year is required for each occupation.  The related instruction may be given in a classroom through trade, industrial or correspondence courses of equivalent value, or other forms of self study approved by the registration/approval agency.

Upon completing an apprenticeship of 1-5 years (2,000 hours to 10,000 hours), the worker receives an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate and is recognized as a qualified worker nationwide.  This certificate is one of the oldest, most basic, and most highly portable industry credentials in use today.  The certificate is issued by a federally approved State Apprenticeship Council or Agency or, in those states not having such an agency, by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.

Are apprentices paid?

Yes, apprentices in Registered Apprenticeship programs earn while they learn, because they are full-time employees during their apprenticeship.  A progressively increasing schedule of wages is based on the experienced worker's hourly wage of the apprentice's occupation.  These wages increase upon demonstration of satisfactory progress in both related instruction and on-the-job training until wages reach 85% to 90% of the rate paid the experienced worker in the occupation.  Generally, apprentices start at 50% of the wage an employer pays an experienced worker in that occupation (but the apprentice cannot receive less than the state minimum wage).  The apprentices' wages are increased periodically throughout the apprenticeship to reflect their mastery of the occupational skills and their ability to work independently.  In developing and implementing a wage schedule, the sponsor agrees to grant periodic wage increments when the apprentice is performing satisfactorily.

A successful Registered Apprenticeship program can

  • Attract highly qualified applicants.
  • Reduce turnover.
  • Value the employee commitment to training.
  • Improve employee morale.
  • Reduce absenteeism.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Reduce the cost of training.
  • Improve community relations.
  • Improve employee relations.
  • Ensure availability of related technical instruction.
  • Enhance problem-solving ability of workers.
  • Ensure versatility of workers.
  • Address the industry's need to remain competitive by investing in the development and continuous upgrade of the skills of its workforce.

Benefits to the employer

  • Develops a reservoir of skilled workers, many of whom are potential supervisors.
  • Lowers costs by increasing productivity as employees become more skilled.
  • Reduces turnover and absenteeism through employee motivation to learn new job skills.
  • Supports State and National recognition for efforts to train people in skills necessary to become contributing members of society. 
  • Provides a more flexible workforce because of greater employee skills.
  • Creates customer satisfaction generated by quality workmanship.

Benefits to the apprentice

  • Apprenticeships often serve as an entry point into a career that would otherwise be closed to an individual due to lack of experience.
  • Apprentices earn while they learn.  They learn a skilled trade while earning increasing wages and have a sense of job security.
  • The skills apprentices learn are portable, flexible, and transferable from one employer to another and generally from one area of the country to another.
  • Serving an apprenticeship provides a person with a lifetime skill and a comprehensive knowledge of the trade which enables the apprentice to compete more effectively in the labor market.

Whom does Registered Apprenticeship serve?

In the United States today, some 40,000 program sponsors offer Registered Apprenticeship training to approximately 325,000 apprentices.  These training programs serve a diverse population including minorities, women, youth and dislocated workers as well as disabled workers who qualify otherwise. 

Currently, at least two-thirds of all apprenticeship training positions are in the construction and manufacturing industries.  Experts agree that apprenticeship has the potential to benefit numerous other industries as well (e.g., service, retail, healthcare, public sector).  Thus, the possibilities for expanding the apprenticeship model are virtually unlimited, thereby meeting the needs of many more American companies and citizens in search of high quality training opportunities - are virtually unlimited.



How do I find employment once I complete school?

Medical transcription should not be viewed as a part-time job for those entering the profession for the first time. Those who commit themselves to working full time in order to build up their level of productivity are considered to be a good investment for the employer. It may be possible for an individual to scale back to part-time work after having mastered the medical language and become proficient in medical transcription technology, but it is unwise to look upon medical transcription as a part-time opportunity when first entering the profession.

Two best sources for a job lie within yourself coupled with your school.  Graduates from approved schools who demonstrate 98% accuracy in transcription are the most sought after by employers.  Push yourself to excel, and work with the contacts your school has to place you.  Employers are aware of the reputations the schools have and often have standing requests for their graduates, and best students often have choices where to work.

In additional to traditional employability which abounds, the MT skill set is applicable to support alternative health practitioners, insurance companies, scientific research facilities, medical malpractice attorneys, medical society offices, private detectives, academia with science or medicine departments, biotechnology companies (research and manufacturing), forensic psychiatry, pharmaceutical industry (research, development, sales, support), medical software development, veterinary offices,  managed care organizations, medical and allied health publishing entities, and many more.

Can I work at home?

While many medical transcriptionists do work from their homes, the opportunity to work from home is not sufficient reason to enter this challenging profession. Medical transcriptionists must be intensely focused on medical language and the importance of documenting highly sensitive patient healthcare documents and must be dedicated to quality, privacy, and accuracy in all of their efforts. Medical transcription is not “just a typing job,” but rather a professional field where only the most dedicated practitioners will be successful.

More and more employers are allowing their experienced MTs to work from home. However, many will require you to work at their facility or in their office before sending you home to work on your own. The home transcriptionist needs an excellent knowledge of the medical language, as well as the English language, and may have to make a substantial investment in reference materials and equipment. Those who provide the highest quality transcription are most likely to be successful.  However, there are medical transcription service owners (MTSOs) who hire MTs and train them, providing mentors and entry-level transcription initially.

Can I be self-employed or own my own MT business?

The independent medical transcriptionist (IC) or medical transcription service owner (MTSO) should have an excellent knowledge of not only the medical language and the English language, but the language of business as well. You should be willing to make a substantial investment in medical reference materials and equipment. The successful independent MT will maintain a high level of quality. Federal regulations call for special security precautions when dealing with protected patient information; this may involve some expense on your part. You are cautioned that the IRS has specific regulations about home businesses and independent contractors. Be sure to seek the advice of a qualified attorney and/or tax advisor.

Show Full Article
Family and Spouse