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Transcriber FAQ

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2015 02:29PM MST

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What does a TypeWell Transcriber do?

A TypeWell transcriber provides communication access for students and others during classes and meetings.  A transcriber does this by listening to what is said by teachers and students, and typing a meaning-for-meaning transcript of what is heard.  In order to keep up with the speed of normal speech (between 150 and 200 wpm), the transcriber uses a set of abbreviation and condensing techniques.  After class, the transcriber edits the file and distributes notes of the day's class/meeting.

What are the Qualifications to be a TypeWell Transcriber?

To be a transcriber, one must type at least 60 wpm without errors, have excellent listening skills, quickly understand and write English as effortlessly as a well-educated native speaker, enjoy working in school settings, and have some knowledge of computers and word processing.  In addition, we recommend that candidates have no history of pain in the arms or wrist that might suggest a tendency toward repetitive motion disorders.

Practicing court stenographers, legal- and medical-transcriptionists, and others who produce verbatim transcripts of audio information (either "live" or from audio recordings) do NOT do well in the TypeWell transcribing course.  The verbatim processing required in those jobs is fundamentally very different from the meaning-for-meaning processing that a TypeWell transcriber must do.  As a result, those well-entrenched verbatim-processing skills interfere with the ability to master meaning-for-meaning processing.  However, a person who was a verbatim transcriptionist in the past but no longer does that kind of work could be an excellent candidate for the transcribing course.

Also people who provide traditional notetaking services (either by hand or by computer) while taking the TypeWell course usually struggle learning the skills taught in the TypeWell Course.  The habit of doing the "high-points only" kind of processing required to produce traditional notes, coupled with the telegraphic style of recording information for traditional notes, seriously hinders the mastery of the processing required for rich meaning-for-meaning transcribing.

See Required Skills for Transcriber Candidates

If you meet the qualifications listed above, the job of a transcriber can be very rewarding.  Transcribers working in school settings are an integral member of the team that helps students learn.  The transcriber, together with the classroom instructor, the student, the itinerant or resource teacher, and/or other support personnel have a big impact on the student's chances of reaching his or her full academic potential.  It is a real thrill to see a student who has been missing information in class, begin to get it all from your communication access transcription.  It is great to see the increase in a student's comfort level in class — with the instructor, the course material and the other students — that communication access and notes bring. 

​For transcribers providing communication access in job settings, social settings and religious settings, it is satisfying to help make it possible for everyone to have access to communication around them. Modern technology, and your transcribing skills, provide a means for individuals who might otherwise be cut off from certain jobs, social interactions, or religious services to fully participate in such activities.

Here are some of the benefits of this job:

  • Making a contribution to society.

  • Gaining stimulating exposure to classroom and meeting topics.

  • Being part of the TypeWell family. TypeWell providers are friendly, honest, and feel good about what they do. They're confident because the transcribing course really prepares them, and they know we're right behind them if they need advice or support. 

  • Learning an entire new career in only 60 hours of coursework.

  • Access to this rapidly-growing job market.

  • Developing "portable" job skills: jobs are available for experienced transcribers across the US and Canada.

  • Interacting with the next generation.

The work of a transcriber is not simple.  He or she works hard during class to stay on top of the material being presented, so the meaning-for-meaning transcription is accurate and clear.  A transcriber learns a lot from listening to class lectures, but some people may not be comfortable in school settings.  If you are such a person, the job of a school transcriber is not for you.  But, if you have the qualifications, like the idea of helping students reach their maximum potential, enjoy being in stimulating environments, and work well as a team member, the job of a school transcriber could be perfect for you.

What is the Usual Pay of a Transcriber?

Every school district and every geographic area have different pay scales.  The recommended beginning pay level for a transcriber is just below that of a beginning interpreter.  In our experience, this ranges from $15/hr to $40/hr, depending on the supply and demand in the area, and the school's overall pay rates. 

Many transcriber positions are part-time, from 10 to 30 hours a week.  This is because a transcriber should not type full time so as to protect his or her body from repetitive motion injury and other possible ergonomic strain.  Also, just as with sign language interpreting, the mental concentration and physical work of transcribing can be very fatiguing for a transcriber. After an hour or more of transcribing without a break, the quality of the information provided to the reader can decrease significantly. Thus, a typical schedule includes transcribing two or three courses a semester/term, with time allotted in the transcriber's schedule for editing each day.

How do I become a TypeWell Transcriber?

To become a TypeWell transcriber, a person completes a distance-learning transcribing course to learn how to listen to lectures and discussions and type a meaning-for-meaning transcription of what is heard. The cost of this transcribing course is usually paid by a school or business that then provides work for the transcriber. However, formerly-trained transcribers who take our Refresher Course may pay their own course fee, and then work as independent contractors for schools, work sites, agencies, etc. Independent contractors usually also provide their own computers and other equipment, and their own TypeWell software.

What is Independent Contracting?

Rather than working for a single employer, a transcriber can become an independent contractor.  You can read more about becoming an Independent Contractor.

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