If you are exploring career options in the transcription field you have no doubt considered both legal and medical transcription in addition to general transcription. Each field has it’s own set of unique circumstances to consider before taking the plunge. We are going to concentrate on comparing legal and medical transcription in this article because they are generally more lucrative and offer more employment opportunities.


The biggest difference between learning legal transcription and medical transcription is that there is an actual certification process for medical transcribers. Legal transcribers can be taught on the job or take simple legal transcription courses online, there is no nationally recognized certification process.

Medical transcribers on the other hand must take certified courses and learn medical terms, anatomy, pharmacology, and healthcare documentation in order to understand and transcribe correctly. Imagine having to hear, type and spell correctly a word like Myelomeningocele on a recording of a doctor who has an accent and is recording in a loud waiting room. Because of this learning curve, medical transcription courses take 1-2 years to complete or longer. There are levels of certification and areas of specialization once you have started working as well.


We have compared the costs of legal transcription courses here before, starting from $99 going up to $3000.  Online medical transcription courses run from $615 to $4000 depending on the in-depth training.

Employment Opportunities

Legal transcribers can work for courts, attorneys, police stations, insurance companies and large transcription service agencies. All of these companies record events such as depositions, interviews, interrogations, claims and other legal work. Medical transcribers typically work for hospitals, large doctor offices or MTSO’s which are large agencies that take work from multiple hospitals and doctors. If you think about the sizes of these facilities and the amount of work they will do and the fact that the legal and medical fields will never disappear, the employment opportunities in both fields are pretty secure since you can work for companies all over the country.

Work Schedule

As more and more legal and medical transcription agencies take over business from multiple areas and hire independent contractor transcribers, the option to make your own schedule and work from home increases. Today, most legal transcribers work from home and upwards of 80% of medical transcribers work from home. Each field has opportunities to work during the day and overnight for faster turnaround assignments.