If you’re a fast typist looking for a side hustle, you may want to try transcription, a work-at-home job that pays up to $25 an hour.

Transcription jobs involve typing a written record of what you hear on audio and video recordings. These recordings can be from 911 calls, court hearings, medical and academic notes, as well as business meetings and movies.

However, you need to be a lightning-fast typist for the jobs to pay well. That’s because most jobs pay by the word or the “audio minute.” And, depending on the complexity of the audio and how fast you type, any given audio minute can take between two minutes and six minutes to transcribe.

So, if a company pays 85 cents per audio minute, and you can transcribe a 10 minute tape in 20 minutes, you’ll earn $25.50 per hour. But if it takes you four minutes for every minute of audio, your hourly rate drops to $12.75. 

Other requirements

To make good money, you’ll also need good spelling and English grammar skills. That’s because the best-paying jobs in transcription require the completed product to be near-perfect, free of typos and grammatical errors. If perfect spelling and grammar come naturally to you, that shouldn’t be difficult. If not, you’ll spend a lot of time reviewing documents. And few transcription jobs pay extra for that extra time. 

That said, for the right candidates, transcription can be a great side hustle. In most cases, transcriptionists work remotely on their own schedule. And, outside of a web connection and computer, you don’t need much to get started.

However, several experts suggested that you get a $50 foot pedal and free text-extender software that automatically fills in frequently-used names and terms. Most sites don’t require these items. But a foot pedal and text-extender software should speed accurate transcriptions, which means you’ll earn a higher hourly rate.

Where can fast typist try transcription?

Here are a half dozen platforms that encourage fast typists to try transcription. We’ve listed them here, starting with those that offer the best opportunity. Although SideHusl.com does not recommend some of the high-profile transcription companies at the end of this list, we’ve included them here because you’ll surely hear about them if you’re looking for transcription work. You should know why they’re unlikely to deliver a living wage — even for fast typists.

Transcription Outsourcing

Transcription Outsourcing does two things that make the platform attractive for freelancers. It pays among the highest rates in the industry (between 85 cents and $5 per audio minute). And, it makes a point of connecting transcriptionists with regular clients, so they become familiar with the names, places and speech patterns common with those clients. That helps workers transcribe faster and more accurately, says Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing’s CEO. Walker says most of his transcriptionists earn between $20 and $30 an hour. The site is swamped with work and looking for transcriptionists who can work a near full-time schedule.  

Rev

With pay ranging from 30 cents to $3 per audio minute, it sounds like Rev pays generously– $18 to $180 per audio hour. But, the highest rates go to people with tons of experience working with Rev and to those who can caption movies (including sounds) and/or translate while they transcribe. That said, if you are a blistering-fast typist and get the hang of it, you can make decent money working from home with this company. However, because of a huge increase in interest due to the pandemic, it could take as much as three months for Rev to process new applications.

SpeakWrite

SpeakWrite enlists freelance transcriptionists who can work a minimum of four hours a week doing fast-turnaround transcriptions. The site promises its clients three-hour service at all hours of the day and night. That suggest the site has transcriptionists working around the clock. Typists are paid one-half cent per word, with some shifts offering a 10% bonus. That should translate to $18+ an hour for someone who types 60 words a minute, and more if you type faster. But the site’s audio tapes are sometimes poor quality, which can hamper typists. 

GMR Transcription

GMR Transcription only enlists U.S. residents as freelance typists and translators. That generally means that the company pays better-than-average rates. And freelancers who have worked with the company rate it highly. However, we have a few concerns mainly because GMR is cagey about disclosing freelancer pay or the company’s pay formula. The company’s FAQs say pay rates are only disclosed after you’re hired.

Moreover the site refers to a “probationary period” saying that “all new typists must complete 2 hours worth of audio before receiving paid work.”  Other sites require transcriptionists to take a test to be accepted. However, this appears to say that the first two audio hours that you transcribe for GMR’s paying clients are unpaid. Given that each audio hour could take a transcriptionist 2 to 6 hours to complete, this is a significant amount of unpaid work. Calls and emails to GMR asking for clarification were not returned.

Scribie

Scribie says that it pays $10 per audio hour. But, since it takes two to six minutes to transcribe each minute of audio, Scribie’s pay range works out to between $1.5 and $5 per hour. Worse, transcribers say that the company’s audio files are hard to hear and often include multiple speakers — the toughest type to transcribe. Transcriptionists are also graded on a 5-point scale. If you get less than an average score, you get booted from the platform. SideHusl.com also grades job opportunities on a 5-point scale. This one gets our worst Husl$core: $. 

CastingWords

CastingWords pay structure also nearly guarantees below-minimum wage transcription work. To be specific, the site pays a base rate that starts at 8.5 cents per audio minute. In a best-case scenario, that works out to about $1 to $2 per hour base pay in real time. Completed transcriptions and tapes go to graders, who then pay — or don’t pay — bonuses based on how well the transcription was done. If you get an average grade, you get the base rate. If you a lower grade, you don’t get paid at all. Those who get top scores, get three times the base rate. But even at this multiple, you’re probably earning less than minimum wage in the U.S..