Your income as a legal transcriber will depend on if you are employee or an independent contractor, if you earn by the hour, page or minute, and your rates if you set them yourself. Here are a few ideas on how you can earn the most money doing legal transcription.
While being an employee is great for knowing exactly how much income you will earn each week, you will probably earn the lowest working as an hourly employee for a firm. Only large firms hire dedicated transcribers, smaller firms that use transcribers typically have their legal secretaries or assistants do the transcribing, so that is just one of their duties. Legal secretaries and assistants will generally earn more than dedicated transcribers because they have degrees and do higher level activities as well. The average hourly rate for a transcriber is between $10-15 depending on which area of the country you live in. Of course because only large firms hire these positions and they are generally located in larger cities, so your cost of living will be higher.
Working for yourself opens up opportunities, but the guaranteed income isn’t there. You have to find your own clients and continue marketing yourself in case you lose a client. Setting your own rates and providing a superior product will be paramount to your success. Most independent legal transcribers charge by the page based on when the transcript is due. The faster it is due, or turn around time, the more you can charge. So your normal rate might be $1.50 per page for a 7 day turn around. If an attorney needs a transcript from a deposition over night because they have to prepare for court in a couple of days you can charge more, so say $5.50 a page.
While you earn more for overnight jobs, these are also hard to plan for, as the deposition can end at 5pm, you don’t get the audio files until 8pm and now you have to work literally overnight in order to have the transcript completed and delivered in the morning. However a 100 page job that would have earned you $150 on a 7 day turn around is now $550 in income!
Figuring Your Potential Income
If you are charging by the page or minute of audio, knowing how many pages or minutes you can type by hour will lead you to your potential income. After training hundreds of employees and now students, most people type around 5 pages per hour when they are just starting out. Yes, that is low, but that is because you are learning the templates and how to break the spoken word down in to sentences and paragraphs. After about a month of doing a sample audio each day, averaging at least an hour of practice, most people can type 10 pages per hour. After two months they are up to 12-15 pages per hour. This goes faster for people that commit to practicing or learn our shortcuts. Our average employee does 18 pages per hour and our best employee does about 25 pages per hour or more.
Hiring other transcribers to grow your team is the only way to increase your income once you have enough business to fill your typing day. By hiring others you can take on more work and hand it out to them. Of course at this point you have to consider the cost of proofing their work to make sure the product you hand in is just as good as you typing the transcript yourself. At this point your income is truly unlimited if you can continue to hire excellent transcribers and continue to market for new business.