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Transcriptionists generally convert the content of audio or video recordings into written form. It can be a versatile profession with the opportunity to work from home if the right transcription tools are used. Basically, a transcriptionist needs a reliable, well-designed computer and the appropriate software. They also need a dictation playback system that can be operated by foot pedal and a quality headset. To be successful, a transcriptionist should also have a comfortable, quiet spot to do his or her work.
The days of the typewriter have long passed, and most word processing is done on computer systems. Consequently, it is important for any transcriptionist to have an up-to-date and dependable computer. The computer must also be equipped with reliable word processing software. Many computer systems have basic types of word processing software included, but these stripped-down versions usually are not adequate to use for transcription. Many transcriptionists recommend upgrading to a premium word processing software package, such as Microsoft Word® or WordPerfectr® in order to produce consistent, quality projects.
A computer used by a transcriptionist also needs to have a comfortable, easy-to-use keyboard. Transcription involves a lot of typing, and many transcriptionists will recommend keyboards that are ergonomically designed so as to lessen the risks of complications such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which can result from improper or excessive typing. In the alternative, certain wrist pads or other ergonomic devices designed to help typists maintain their wrists in the proper position when typing are commercially available and should be used.
Of all the transcription tools that a person might invest in, a high-quality dictation playback system is probably one of the most important. In times past, most transcriptionists used a playback device that resembled a recorder and utilized miniature tapes designed specifically for dictation. Many transcription jobs now use digitized recordings rather than hard-copy tapes so that the older-style playback devices have become much less popular. Instead, most transcriptionists now include specialized transcription software in their arsenals of transcription tools.
Audio and video playback software is usually installed directly onto a person’s existing computer system. Generally, the software can be linked to a foot pedal, another important tool of the trade. By using the foot pedal, a person can stop, start, rewind, and fast forward an audio or video recording using the pedal without ever having to take his or her hands off the keyboard. This process greatly improves the speed and efficiency of transcription.
Another important item for individuals to include with their transcription tools is a quality set of headphones. Although some might be tempted to use a computer's speakers to listen to the playback of a file to be transcribed, headphones offer better clarity and allow for greater accuracy. It is important for the headphones to be comfortable because the transcriptionist will likely be wearing them for long periods of time. Some people prefer earbud-type headphones, while others like the cushioned, over-the-ear type. If a person’s workstation is set up in an environment that includes outside noise, he or she should ideally opt for noise-canceling headphones.
The benefits of using even the best transcription tools will not be fully realized without the proper work environment. Transcriptionists should set up their equipment in an area that is quiet, comfortable, well-lighted, and that has minimal distractions. Further, individuals should invest in a high-quality ergonomic chair so as to minimize the risk of back and neck problems caused by poor posture when sitting for long periods of time.