We received an employment inquiry this week from an experienced transcriptionist who is questioning whether she can afford to continue to work in this profession. Over the past several years she has worked for several online transcription service firms and she self-described her transcription skills as being "above average." So why, we asked, is she considering a career change? Because, she advised, when she actually sat down one day and calculated what her average hourly wage had worked out to be over the past year, she came to realize it was actually in the range of $4 an hour.
We just shook our head. Sadly, we hear stories like this more often than you might imagine. Readers of our frequent blog posts on this topic know that we find it very hard to accept that an experienced, skilled professional transcriptionist in this country can be paid at third-world wages such as those this individual is currently earning as an independent contractor.
And in our opinion this issue is actually a double-edged sword. On the one hand, at those types of rates, a skilled online transcriptionist would be unable to earn a sustainable living wage -- or even exceed the federal poverty level -- even if they worked 50 hours or more a week.
And on the other hand, in addition to the impact on the individuals working in the online transcription field, the industry itself is beginning to feel the negative results as more skilled professionals leave the profession, which we believe over time is inevitably leading to an erosion of quality in our often challenging and demanding profession. It really ultimately is a no-win situation for transcriptionists, the firms they work for, and ultimately the clients.
Unfortunately, we were unable to bring this particular applicant into our team of seasoned, experienced transcribers at Transcription 2000 Services. After testing and corresponding it became clear that her comprehension and other "soft" skills were not a good fit for the type of executive-level transcription assignments that are such a large part of our typical workload.
So the beat goes on, and we continue to be on the lookout for "A-Team" professional transcribers who think as quickly as they type and who expect to be reasonably compensated for their unique set of skills. And we also continue to urge potential clients to "look under the hood" when contemplating placing work with transcription service shops who tout their "lowest" prices, but whose profits often come at the expense of their workforce.
At Transcription 2000 our team of expert transcribers remain the bedrock of the success we have sustained in this challenging industry for almost two decades. We value them and their skills tremendously and will never accept an assignment that doesn't allow us to compensate them respectfully in this industry that increasingly doesn't always meet those standards.