California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Medical Transcriptionists in California

May also be called: Medical Stenographers; Medical Transcribers

What Would I Do?

Medical Transcriptionists are medical language specialists who interpret and transcribe recorded dictation by physicians and other health care professionals. They transcribe dictated information about patient assessment, workup, therapeutic procedures, clinical course, diagnosis, prognosis, and other medical processes to document patient care and facilitate delivery of health care services. Medical Transcriptionists return transcribed documents to the dictator for review and approval.

Transcriptionists key text into a personal computer or word processor, editing as necessary for grammar and clarity. They listen to recordings on a dictation machine which has a special headset and foot pedal to pause the recording when necessary. Adaptive equipment is available for individuals who are physically unable to use a foot pedal.

Experienced Transcriptionists are able to identify mistakes or inconsistencies in a medical report and check back with the dictator to correct the information. Their ability to correctly transcribe patient assessments and treatments reduces the chance of patients receiving ineffective treatments and ensures high quality patient care. The transcribed documents eventually become part of patients’ permanent files.

Medical Transcriptionists must understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, and treatment to accurately transcribe dictated reports into a format that is clear and understandable for the reader. They also must be able to translate medical jargon and abbreviations into their full, written-out forms. To help identify terms appropriately, Transcriptionists refer to standard medical reference materials—such as medical dictionaries, drug references, and sources on anatomy—to aid them with the preparation of patient records. Medical Transcriptionists must comply with specific standards that apply to the style of medical records, including the legal requirements involved with keeping patient records confidential.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Take dictation using either shorthand or a stenotype machine, or using headsets and transcribing machines; then convert dictated materials or rough notes to written form.Oral Comprehension
Transcribe dictation for a variety of medical reports such as patient histories, physical examinations, emergency room visits, operations, chart reviews, consultation, and/or discharge summaries.Active Listening
Perform data entry and data retrieval services, providing data for inclusion in medical records and for transmission to physicians.Clerical
Distinguish between homonyms, and recognize inconsistencies and mistakes in medical terms, referring to dictionaries, drug references, and other sources on anatomy, physiology, and medicine.Reading Comprehension
Translate medical jargon and abbreviations into their expanded forms to ensure the accuracy of patient and health care facility records.Writing
Identify mistakes in reports, and check with doctors to obtain the correct information.Written Comprehension
Review and edit transcribed reports or dictated material for spelling, grammar, clarity, consistency, and proper medical terminology.English Language
Produce medical reports, correspondence, records, patient-care information, statistics, medical research, and administrative material.Critical Thinking
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

The majority of Transcriptionists work in comfortable office settings such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, laboratories, medical libraries, pharmaceutical companies, medical transcription service firms, or at home. They generally work alone at individual workstations. Transcription work requires long hours of sitting and an intense degree of concentration. An increasing number of Medical Transcriptionists telecommute from home as employees or subcontractors for hospitals and transcription services or as self-employed contractors. Many work a standard 40-hour workweek, but the self-employed are more likely to work irregular hours—including part time, evenings, and weekends.

Some employers set production standards and determine pay rates based on work production, which could be stressful. Without proper precautions and regular breaks, there are risks for eye problems due to strain and repetitive motion injures.

Presently, there has been little or no unionization of Medical Transcriptionists.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Medical Transcriptionist may appeal to those who are interested in organized, clearly defined activities requiring accuracy and attention to detail. Medical Transcriptionists follow set procedures and routines where there is usually a clear line of authority. They work more with data and details than with ideas.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2016 for Medical Transcriptionists in California is $46,255 annually, or $22.24 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Transcriptionists may expect to receive medical insurance, vacation, sick leave benefits, and retirement plans. Self-employed Transcriptionists must provide their own insurance and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Employment of Medical Transcriptionists is expected to remain stable. The majority of job openings will occur due to the need to replace workers who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force. Job opportunities will be better for those who are certified.

Recent technological advances have changed the process of medical transcription. Now, many medical documents are produced using a back-end speech recognition technology. This specialized software automatically prepares a draft of the report and then the Medical Transcriptionist reviews the report for accuracy. This will make it possible for the Transcriptionist to produce more reports and will limit overall employment growth.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Medical Transcriptionists is expected to decline between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Medical Transcriptionists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 90 job openings due to net replacement needs is expected per year for Medical Transcriptionists.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Medical Transcriptionists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Medical Transcriptionists need a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, they need to complete a postsecondary medical transcriptionist training program, two-year associate degree program, or one-year certificate program. Courses should include advanced English, grammar and punctuation, anatomy, physiology, disease processes, pharmacology, laboratory medicine, beginning and advanced medical language, health care records, medical legal issues, and computer software technology.

Early Career Planning

To prepare for medical transcribing, high school students should take English, business, and computer classes as grammar, good punctuation skills, and computer literacy are basic requirements.

Work Study Programs

Regional Occupation Programs (ROP) offer training for Medical Transcriptionists in some areas. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Continuing Education

It is important for Medical Transcriptionists to refresh their grammar and punctuation skills and keep abreast of technological and various computer software changes. To maintain voluntary certification, Certified Medical Transcriptionists (CMTs) must complete at least 30 continuing education credits during a three-year cycle. The Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) must take an independent study course and pass an exam to recertify.


Graduates of a medical transcriptionist training program are eligible to take the voluntary RMT exam. After two years of acute care experience, they may take the CMT exam through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. To renew either of the three-year certifications, applicants must pay the appropriate fee and earn the required continuing education credits or pass an exam.

Those Transcriptionists who successfully pass either the CMT or RMT exam may use the CMT or RMT title. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Medical Transcriptionists are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 35.5%
Offices of Physicians 15.2%
Employment Services 9.4%
Outpatient Care Centers 6.1%
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 5.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Community college job placement offices, medical transcriptionist training providers, and vocational schools provide placement assistance for their students. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings advertise local job opportunities. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Medical Transcriptionists.

  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Laboratories, Medical
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Secretarial Services
  • Transcribing Services

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Experienced Medical Transcriptionists may promote to supervisory, management, or teaching positions. With additional education and training, Transcriptionists may also advance to medical records and health information technicians, medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators.

Transcriptionists may also elect to become self-employed as independent contractors, consultants, or owners of medical transcription services. Entry into self-employment usually requires initial set up expenditures for transcription and computer equipment including high-speed computer lines with Internet access.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Medical Transcriptionists with links to more information.

Court ReportersProfile
Medical AssistantsGuide
Medical Records and Health Information TechniciansGuide
Receptionists and Information ClerksGuide
Secretaries and Administrative AssistantsProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification31-9094
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Medical Transcriptionists31-9094.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CRI