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Potential Transcriber FAQ

What does a TypeWell transcriber do?

A TypeWell transcriber provides speech-to-text communication access—typically for students or professionals—during classes and meetings. A transcriber does this by listening to what is said during a conversation, lecture, or presentation 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), a TypeWell transcriber uses a set of abbreviation and condensing techniques.

The primary goal of communication access is to enable the reader (e.g., a student or other individual) to quickly understand and follow along with the conversation in real time, so they can participate, ask questions, and contribute their own ideas during the class or meeting. A secondary goal or benefit is to produce a transcript that can be studied or referenced after the class or meeting. So, in addition to providing a "live" service, the transcriber is also responsible for formatting and distributing transcripts afterward, usually via email or an online dropbox.

What are the qualifications to be a TypeWell transcriber?

To train to become a transcriber, one must be able to type at least 60 words per minute (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) generally 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 to learn 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

What are the benefits and rewards of working as a transcriber?

If you meet the qualifications listed above, the job of a transcriber can be very rewarding. In school settings, a transcriber is 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 was previously missing information in class, begin to "get so much more" from your communication access transcription. It is very common to see a student's comfort level increase in the classroom—with the instructor, the course material, and the other students—as a result of having communication access and access to the after-class transcripts.

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.
  • Training for an entirely 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 transcribers is not simple. They work hard during class to stay on top of the material being presented, so the meaning-for-meaning transcription is accurate and clear. They learn 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?

Different school districts and geographic areas 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 $30/hr, depending on the supply and demand in the area, and the school's overall pay rates.

Many transcriber positions are part-time, working 10 to 30 hours a week. This is because typing intensively for more than 30 hours a week can increase transcribers' risk of repetitive motion injury and other ergonomic strain. (Each body is different, so we cannot recommend a "maximum" number of transcribing hours per week.)

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 one or several courses per weekday for an entire semester/term, with time allotted in the transcriber's schedule each day for breaks between classes. Those can serve as ergonomic breaks and also allow time for polishing and distributing transcripts, doing prep work for challenging classes, etc.

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.

Read about how to Qualify and Apply for the Basic Skills Course.

Who pays the course fee?

Candidates who enroll in the Basic Skills Course may have their course fee paid by an employer, or they might pay their own course fee (provided they have a job lined up). Either way, they must identify a current or potential employer, known as a "sponsor."

In the educational setting, TypeWell candidates are usually sponsored by the Disability Support Services department within a school district or university. Candidates may also be sponsored by companies or agencies, which in turn contract with schools, businesses, and organizations to provide communication access for their students, employees, and other clients.

For more information about this or to find a sponsor, please read our Sponsorship Policy.

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