Essential Transcription Gear for an At-Home Worker

Before you start a career as from home transcriptionist, there are a few pieces of equipment that will make your job a lot easier. A few companies will give you some of the necessary transcription equipment. Others will expect you to have your own. Either way, when you have your transcription gear, you can customize it to the way you like and the one which works best for you.

Transcription Software

You’ll discover when you are transcribing a file, you are going to have to play and rewind it in short bursts. Using a regular audio program like iTunes or Groove Music isn’t going to work. It’s far too inefficient to flip back and forth between the applications every time you have to unwind.

Transcription software makes this much more manageable. It works by either using hotkeys or a foot pedal to let you rewind, play, and fast forward your audio files. There are a few different options on the market. Each one has a few different pros and cons.

NCH Express Scribe

Express Scribe is a favorite for many transcriptionists. This transcription software has both a hotkey option, and it can work with a foot pedal. The Pro version can playback nearly any type of audio as well as video. It also comes with a free version, which is great when you’re first starting.

The only significant drawback I have found to Express Scribe is the audio quality. Compared to FTW Transcriber and even Transcriptable Express Scribe’s audio doesn’t seem as clear to me. Maybe it’s just me, but if there were one thing I could change, that would be it.

FTW Transcriber

FTW Transcriber is another piece of transcription gear that includes a free version. Unfortunately, the free version only allows you to play up to 15 minutes of audio. But fear not! A pro license for two years of the software is only $24. That’s less than $1 a month. If you use code TRENDYT at checkout, I can get you an extra 7% off.

The audio quality while using this program is stellar. Like Express Scribe, you can use either hotkeys or a foot pedal. The only drawback I could find with this program is that sometimes it seems like the rewind would get stuck. Instead of jumping back five seconds, I’d wind up a minute back. The hotkeys can also be a little wonky occasionally.

In reality, I wish I could mix FTW Transcriber and Express Scribe into one ultimate transcription software program. One works with what one has.


The only reason I found this transcription software is because I got a new computer and was cruising the Microsoft Store. It is kind of neat because it’s got built-in equalizer settings for audio playback. It also works with USB pedals and hotkeys, but I saw a review on it that said Bluetooth pedals are not supported.

Another thing I like about this app is that it has a setting where it will beep on a timer. So for adding timestamps, it will beep every 30 seconds or one minute or whatever you set it to. This software runs about $40.

NameMy ratingPriceFree Version?Link
FTW Transcriber4.5/5$10/ mon
$24/ 2 yrs
YesGet It
Express Scribe4/5$34.95YesGet it
Transcriptable3/5$39.99NoGet It
headphones and laptop

A Good Pair Of Headphones

I can’t stress enough. Headphones are probably your most important piece of equipment. I started by using just the pair from my iPhone, upgraded, upgraded again. I eventually invested in a pair that were made specifically for transcription. 

It was like having brand-new ears. Before I got my transcription headphones, I did have a lovely pair of PlugPhones I was using. They’re like earplugs, but headphones. They worked well on the audio side, but they were Bluetooth. The thing about Bluetooth is it runs on battery, and if I were working on a large file, the battery would die.

The ones I have now are over the ear, USB headphones — no battery problem. The sound quality on them is incredible, and they only ran me about $50. Cheaper than PlugPhones. Make sure whichever kind you choose that they are comfortable on your head. Getting a headache from crappy earphones is no fun. And you better believe a good set of headphones is one piece of transcription gear that now transcriber would be without.

Word Processing Software (MS Word)

Most companies I’ve worked for have used MS Word. A few had their transcription platforms, but most would allow you to upload Word docs into it if you so choose. Babbletype, however, uses Google Docs.

Okay. I know some people love Google Docs. I am not one of them. The only reason is it seems like there’s always a lag from when I’m typing to when the words appear. It might be that my computer or internet connection is slow. I’m not sure. It makes me crazy. Therefore, I love Google Docs for a lot of things. Transcription work is not one of them.

Other Transcription Gear You Will Need Someday

In addition to the essentials above, there area a few things that you’ll need, just not necissarily right away:

Young attractive woman working with a computer

A Comfy Office Chair

One of the things you’re going to need is a chair that won’t make your butt go numb. I’m serious. As a transcriber, you will be sitting in one spot for a while. It took me a few tries to find a chair that I liked. And I’m still always on the hunt for one I like even better.

A Foot Pedal

Okay, so if you’re using hotkeys, you won’t need a foot pedal. But as you start taking on more and more jobs, it may be a good thing to invest in. One of the most common models and the one I use is the Infinity USB Digital Footpedal. I bought mine used on Amazon for about $30, but they usually run around $50. 

I’ve never had a problem with it, and it’s worked with every transcription program I’ve tried. I know there are fancier, more expensive models out there, but if it ain’t broke…


I love Grammarly. It does a contextual spell check, so it helps with homophones. It does a beautiful grammar check. Just by using the software, I learned a lot about grammar. It’s also great for writers. It comes in a free and a paid version. You can check it out here.

Text Expanders

A text expander isn’t necessary, but they can save a lot of time if you can figure out how to use them. There is a bit of a learning curve. The same people that make Express Scribe have one that you can check out called Fast Fox.

Quickbooks Self-Employed.

I recommend this app because most of the time, you’ll be a 1099 contractor. That means they don’t take out your taxes. You’re going to have to keep track of your earnings and what you can deduct. Everything above, deductible. This handy app helps with that and will meld with turbo tax at the end of the year. 

A Can-Do Attitude and Determination!

Remember, you probably won’t need all this stuff right away. But that’s a general overview of what you might need to work as a work from home transcriptionist

This post was proofread by Grammarly

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Lauren is a work from home Transcriptionist and loves the freedom freelancing brings her. She is currently learning about web design and graphic design and hopes to branch out into branding/brand management. In her free time, she makes her own jewelry.

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