Why Does The World Need Audio Transcribers?

What’s an audio transcriber? Who uses transcriptions services and why? Why can’t voice recognition software do the job for us? These are questions I get asked all the time. There is a ton of reasons why human transcriptionists remain essential to industries, educational institutions, and other professionals around the world. Let’s start at the beginning.

What’s Audio Transcription?

Audio transcription is a written record of what someone is saying. Normally, it’s from a digital recording, though it used to be from a tape. Moreover, an audio transcriber or a transcriptionist is a person who types or writes out what someone else is saying.

Transcription is a style of documentation that got its start in ancient times. Scribes around 3400 BCE would learn hieroglyphics and messages to become employed in ancient Roman and Egyptian times. A century later, children would transcribe their ancient languages onto stone tablets. The written word and historical documentation were made possible by transcription. And so, people focused on reproducing (and duplicating) a great deal of information as they could.

It’s understood that the discovery associated with the printing press in 1439 contributed to a decline in the demand for scribes. This consequently triggered a decrease in transcription for some time.

Nevertheless, it was surrounding this time (or shortly afterward) a British physician created the current English language shorthand. Formalizing this shorthand rejuvenated the need for the Transcriptionist’s specialty field. 

What Does A Transcriptionist Do?

People doing in office transcription work

A transcriptionist creates transcriptions! Often, a client or service will send an audio file to the transcriptionist. The transcriptionist (if working remotely) downloads the audio file and uploads it into transcribing software. Transcription software is vital because when transcribing the transcriptionist often plays the audio back and forth in roughly five-second chunks. They will additionally use a foot pedal to rewind and play the audio while typing.

Another thing audio transcriber will do is punctuate and ensure the document has proper grammar. It used to mean that a client would dictate where they wanted their punctuation. They’d say, “Dear Sir or Madam ‘comma’,” for example, to let the transcriptionist know when to add the punctuation. Nowadays, a transcriptionist is expected to know these things and add them themselves.

The transcriptionist will upload the fully formatted document to the client or service. If using a service , the text will be quality checked and later be sent to the client.

How Long Does A Transcription Take?

Well, that depends on many factors. How many speakers are involved? Keeping track of multiple speakers can be challenging. A transcriber will often need to double check and relisten to ensure he or she has the right speaker. What is the quality of the audio? Audio with a lot of background noise or people talking over one another will take more time.

On average, people talk 4-5 times faster than a person can type. If a transcriptionist does between 50 and 80 wpm this averages out to around 4-5 hours for per one hour of audio. 

Don’t We Have The Technology To For Automated Transcription?

How many times have you dictated a text on your phone and sent it blindly? And then, two minutes later, looked at your phone and saw that it looked nothing like what you said? I have had more than one mishap where a message completely different from what I meant to say, was sent out. Occasionally, with disastrous results.

For one thing, A.I. and automated transcription are unable to distinguish background noise. Human ears are accustomed to distractions and have a much easier time picking out the different speakers. Humans are also exposed to different accents and dialects daily. Automated transcription and A.I. only can determine the nuances they are programmed to do.

Another thing which confuses A.I. and automated transcription are homophones. The English language is full of them. Homophones comprise words that sound the same but mean different things. For example, to, two, and too. When a human transcriptionist may hear, “I need to buy two apples, which should I choose?” where an automated service may hear, “I need to by to apples, witch should I chose?”

Transcription is a Service Vital to Many Industries

Business often use transcription for meetings

Audio transcription is relied on for several industries for various reasons. Documentation of important meetings, taking notes, anything verbal where a record is required for documentation. Companies often transcribe business meetings, focus groups, and keynotes so they can look at them in the future. Corporations may want a record of any significant decision that is made. This documentation can come in handy in the future when looking back on major decisions.

In today’s world of search engine optimization and social media marketing, transcription is becoming essential to many podcasters. Search engines don’t look at the audio on a website during a search, they solely focus on written words. But if the podcast is transcribed and posted on the site, search engines can pick it up.

With more and more schools offering online courses, professors have their lectures transcribed so that students can follow along. Many students find lectures more accessible and more useful to learn from when the speech is written. In the same fashion, students are having their professor’s lectures transcribed, so they will be able to study from them later. 

Medical transcription has always been widespread. Doctors will dictate notes or patient files when they don’t want to type out an entire patient record. Medical transcriptionists will take those spoken notes and convert them into patient files and other medical documents.

Writers and biographers often use transcription when they interview with a subject. This makes it possible to focus on their interview and not on writing notes the whole time. It also gives them a record of things they may miss during the conversation.

A Career In Transcription Can Be a Fun and Challenging Opportunity

A career in transcription is a fun, sometimes challenging, discipline, where you get to hear something new every day. If you have self-motivation and the ability to manage your own time, then a career in transcription is an excellent choice. Especially for anyone who would like a stay at home job.

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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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