Job Outlook

The need for skilled Medical Transcriptionists and Medical Transcription Editors has proven resilient, even in today's troubling economic climate. Indeed, the medical transcription business in this country is estimated to be worth $10 to $25 billion annually and has been growing 15 percent each year. For this reason, projections for job openings remain optimistic.

While medical transcriptionists typically listen to dictation and transcribe the information into readable reports, medical transcription editors deal with reports that have already been transcribed, correcting errors in both form and substance, and passing the information on with a very high degree of accuracy. As those individuals with a medical background possess specialized knowledge of anatomy and physiology, they are uniquely positioned to become editors. But editors also rise from the ranks of experienced transcriptionists as well. For this reason, the levels of compensation for editors may be somewhat higher than for transcriptionists, which are outlined below.

Demand for medical transcription services of all kinds will continue to be spurred by a growing and aging population. Older age groups receive proportionally greater numbers of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that require documentation. A high level of demand for transcription services also will be sustained by the continued need for electronic documentation that can be shared easily among providers, third-party payers, regulators, consumers, and health information systems. And growing numbers of medical transcriptionists will be needed to amend patients' records, edit documents from speech recognition systems, and identify discrepancies in medical reports.

36% of medical transcriptionists are employees in a hospital or are retained by hospitals as telecommuting employees. Other MTs work as independent contractors for an outsourced service that performs the work offsite under contract to a hospital, clinic, physician group or other healthcare provider. And in 23% of cases, MTs work directly for the providers of service (doctors or their group practices), either onsite or telecommuting as employees or contractors. In all these settings, medical transcriptionists are employed in comfortable surroundings, even those who telecommute from home-based offices. However, prospective medical transcriptionists should be aware that the work usually requires sitting in the same position for long periods.

Most medical transcriptionists work a standard 40-hour week although some may be on call at any time. Self-employed medical transcriptionists, of course, are more likely to work irregular hours—including part time, evenings, and weekends.

Compensation
Wage-and-salary medical transcriptionists had median hourly wages of $15.68 in May 2009 as reported by the US Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.09 and $18.76 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.78, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.97.

Percentile wage estimates for this occupation:

Percentile 10% 25% 50%
(Median)
75% 90%
Hourly Wage $10.78 $13.09 $15.68 $18.76 $21.97
Annual Wage $22,430 $27,230 $32,600 $39,020 $45,700

 

Industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation:

Industry Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 34,430 $16.58 $34,480
Offices of Physicians 22,310 $15.58 $32,410
Business Support Services 13,500 $14.92 $31,040
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 2,530 $18.60 $38,680
Outpatient Care Centers 1,840 $15.80 $32,870

Compensation arrangements for medical transcriptionists vary. Some are paid on the basis of the number of hours they work or the number of lines they transcribe. Others receive a base pay per hour, with incentives for extra production. Employees of transcription services and independent contractors almost always receive production-based pay. Independent contractors earn more than do transcriptionists who work for others, but independent contractors have higher expenses than their corporate counterparts, receive no benefits, and may face a higher risk of termination than do wage-and-salary transcriptionists.

Industries with the highest published employment and wages for medical transcriptionists

Industry Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 2,530 $18.60 $38,680
Insurance Carriers 30 $18.26 $37,980
Scientific Research and Development Services 50 $17.44 $36,270
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 320 $17.44 $36,260
Offices of Dentists 730 $17.39 $36,170

Lastly, it is interesting to note that New Jersey is among the five highest-paying states for this occupation in the country.