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How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary training. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding both of grammar and of word-processing software.


Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary training in medical transcription, which is offered by many vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs.

A 1-year certificate program or 2-year associate’s degree normally includes coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some transcriptionists, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nurse or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.

Medical transcription programs do not have to be accredited, but transcriptionists who want to get certification may first need to complete an accredited program.


Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers two certifications: Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).

The RMT certification is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor’s office.

The CMT credential is for transcriptionists who handle dictation in several medical specialties.

Both certifications require passing an exam and periodic retesting or continuing education.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must be comfortable using computers and word-processing software, because those tools are an essential part of their jobs.

Detail oriented. Transcriptionists must focus on details to write reports correctly and spot any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in finished drafts.

Time-management skills. Because dictation must be done quickly, medical transcriptionists must be comfortable working under short deadlines.

Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of the English language and grammar.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition