The state of freelance transcription as career in a dynamically evolving job market
Ever since AI and machine learning algorithms started churning their nuts and bolts almost a decade ago, projects became very hard to come by, especially for freelancers or independent contractors who had just started. Data Entry jobs were already gobbled up by OCR/MICR software long since and now automation has started doing the same in other areas like programming and scripting, book-keeping and accountancy, etc.
However, a ray of hope still exists in a field called transcription which cannot be fully automated by an AI or algorithm, at least in the near or foreseeable future.
The nuances of English language (punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech and other grammar concepts) should ensure that to a considerable extent. A helping hand is the most an AI can lend in this case. As a matter of fact, the already generated output of such transcription software is what a transcriber gets to work with on platforms such as QA-World.
Needless to say, your own English grammar should be of the caliber that substantially beats the AI generated stuff in order to be considered "QA worthy" on the various transcription platforms. In general, the transcription platforms are of two kinds: those who hire freelancers from worldwide or those who restrict hiring to only English speaking and European countries like UK, US, AU, CA, etc. For the scope of this article, I've only considered the former kind as those are the only ones I can evaluate.
QA-World: This can be called either a "beginner friendly" or "bread-butter" platform for its relatively easy to join and start working on this platform but the pay isn't really that good. You hardly earn about 5-10 cents for transcribing a 4-5 minute long call and doing so can take you several minutes, especially if you're a beginner. However, once you start getting the hang of it and improve your speed, you should start making at least weekly pocket money, if not a rockstar salary that pays all your monthly bills.
Casting Words: This is another great site that hires freelancers. I've cleared the grammar test but not taken the transcription test yet. I've heard that it's slightly tougher than QA-World's which is why I'm waiting to gather some practice first before venturing on this. From what I've read on forums, they seem to pay freelancers a better rate than QA-World and Scribie.
GoTranscript: Another great site, same story as above. The transcription test is tougher than beginner sites like QA-World but so is the pay. Like Casting Words, they too accept freelancers from worldwide and don't favor any particular nationality.
Audio Transcription Center: Another reputed site that hires freelance transcribers. To complete the application, you'll need the following:
- Your current resume in PDF format.
- A cover letter in PDF format.
- You must clear a typing test from typingtest.com, attain a minium of 80 WPM speed and post a screenshot of the results.
My typing speed is currently 75 on my best days, but I'm trying to improve it so that I can apply at Audio Transcription Center some day!
Daily Transcription: This is also a good one but to apply there, you must have prior experience in transcription or working with subtitles/captions. You must also be ready to sign an NDA with them.
Quicktate: Another reputed site which is known to pay freelancers decently. To apply here, you'll need at least three real world references. Relations like family member, personal friend, current/former employer, business associate, etc. are accepted.
Scribie: Scribie is also a good platform for freelance transcribers, so I've heard. However, they don't seem to be interested in hiring transcribers these days. Once you sign up and clear the basic grammar test, you're supposed to give the actual transcription test. When I reached this test though, I'm greeted with the below message:
We're sorry. There are no test files available right now.
- Speechpad: Another good and reputable platform for freelance transcribers but they don't seem to be hiring now. The linked job application link ends up with below message as of this writing (but that might change in future!):
Due to high demand, we are not accepting new applications at this time. Please check back in a few months.
- Rev.com is also quite a reputable name in freelance transcription world but their transcription test is a bit difficult to clear.
Apart from these, there are a few others. TranscribeMe is good but doesn't accept worldwide applicants, only a handful of nationalities like US, UK, CA, etc. are allowed. Verbit.ai is also good but aren't accepting new registrations as of now.