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Friday, May 2, 2008

Getting Started – Basics Needed

Now that you've determined that you have the skills needed to become a transcriptionist, you're probably wondering what basic items you will need in the way of hardware and software. The bare minimum that you will need are a computer with an Internet connection, preferably DSL or cable Internet as audio files can be quite large, audio playback software, word processing software, and a good pair of headphones.

I'm assuming if you're reading this, you probably already have a computer with an Internet connection, so we'll just gloss over this necessity for the time being. What you currently have is probably adequate. While DSL or cable Internet is recommended, satellite or dial-up will suffice. Mandi actually uses satellite currently, because DSL and cable are not options available in her location. You will just need to be sure to factor in lengthier download times into your turnaround time on a file. Also, one last thing we should touch on while discussing Internet is you should have a backup method in mind in case your service or power goes down. It pays to be prepared.

There's quite a range of audio playback software available. We'll go into more depth about them at a later date, but for now we would recommend that you start with Express Scribe. It's probably the most popular software available, and best of all it's FREE! It can handle a wide variety of file formats, and you can operate it utilizing the F-keys on your keyboard.

It is highly recommended that you purchase a foot pedal if you have approximately $60 to invest; however, it is not a necessity. The most commonly used pedal is probably the Infinity IN-USB-1 model, and you can find these for sale from many websites. Check eBay for deals, as well. It will greatly improve your speed, so you should definitely try to pick one up as soon as you can, and don't forget you can write off business purchases on your taxes. We'll address write-offs at a later date, but in the meantime, be sure to save any receipts that pertain to business purchases.

You will also need word processing software. Microsoft Word is probably the most commonly used in general transcription, but if you do any kind of legal or medical, you may need to purchase WordPerfect, as well. OpenOffice will suffice for practice, but it will probably not work if you pick up a contract. You can pick up older versions of Microsoft Word of WordPerfect relatively cheaply online. You need not purchase the most current version out there.

Finally, you will need a good pair of headphones. We'll talk about the various types of headphones another time, but first and foremost make sure they are comfortable for you. You don't have to go all out and buy Bose to get good quality, but a $10 pair isn't likely to do you any favors either. If you can test a variety of pairs out at a store, by all means do so. I've known many transcriptionists who have lost contracts or failed to secure a contract with a company because their poor or faulty headphones did not allow them to hear every word as clearly as possible, so it is very important to purchase the best you can afford.

Once you have all of the basics, you're ready to start practicing. We'll be covering practice as one of our next topics, so be sure to check back. Or better yet, click on the chicklet in the column to the left to subscribe to our feed or sign up to have our posts emailed to you each day.

1 Comment:

Ana Smith said...

I downloaded Express Scribe last month. Life got busy and I haven't practiced in several weeks. I just tried to open up the program, but it said my 14 day trial had expired. I thought this was a free program period.

Do you know about the change? Is there another free program to download?