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What Are
You Worth?

Medical transcription wage and salary information.

Consider the following earnings matrix which projects gross annual income for various combinations of daily line count production and average wage per line:

  $.06 per Line $.08 per Line $.10 per Line $.12 per Line $.14 per Line
800 Lines $12,480 $16,640 $20,800 $24,960 $24,960
1,000 Lines $15,600 $20,800 $26,000 $31,200 $36,400
1,250 Lines $19,500 $26,000 $32,500 $39,000 $45,500
1,500 Lines $23,400 $31,200 $39,000 $46,800 $54,600
1,750 Lines $27,300 $36,400 $45,500 $54,600 $63,700
2,000 Lines $31,200 $41,600 $52,000 $62,400 $72,800

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Skilled Medical Transcriptionists generally have little trouble finding work. Maximizing income, however, requires more than just falling into the first available job. In addition to possessing solid technical skills, the highest paid transcriptionists generally tend to have a positive self image and good people skills. Negotiating the right pay package requires a healthy dose of both. Sometimes it also means being willing to make a change or take a little risk. It should be obvious from the above compensation matrix that the greatest leverage lies in being willing to sell and service your own clients.

Annual income for full-time entry-level transcriptionists typing hospital reports averages between $20,000 - $35,000 - depending on location and proficiency. However, more experienced transcriptionists can expect to make double that amount - or more - on the basis of production, particularly if they are willing to develop their own customer base. Unfortunately, the pay differential between experienced and non-experienced transcriptionists is not typically as large in hospital settings where transcriptionists are often paid by the hour. This is one of the primary reasons that experienced transcriptionists tend to seek out positions as independent contractors or small business owners where they have the opportunity to leverage their earnings potential.

As an independent transcriptionist or service provider, the amount of money you make will be determined by your speed and proficiency. Average production based wages average between six and ten cents per line of transcription (based on a 65 keystroke line). If you are able to secure your own clients then you can expect to bill between fourteen and twenty cents per line for your work. Of course your overhead will have to be deducted from this amount. Still, this can mean a significant increase in income for those willing to learn how to sell their services to hospitals and clinics.

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The primary factors which determine the income of a Medical Transcriptionist are as follows:

  •   Competence and Experience
  •   Speed and Efficiency
  •   Risk Tolerance
  •   Employee vs. Contractor
  •   Geographic Location
  •   Willingness to Accept Change

As a general rule, the industry pays a relatively high premium to transcriptionists who have a broad base of experience and competence - particularly in some of the more technically challenging specialties. Unfortunately, many highly qualified transcriptionists are not fully rewarded for their competence because they lack one of the other elements of success. For example, they may be geographically inflexible, or too conservative to try their hand at a more lucrative but potentially risky contracting arrangement.

Of course, some transcriptionists make a conscious decision to trade off a higher income for some additional flexibility, lower stress, or the opportunity to work from home. There is certainly nothing wrong with this as long as they understand the decisions they are making. Too many individuals simply shortchange themselves because of a reluctance to rock the boat. It is always adviseable to keep an open mind about potential opportunities to advance one's career or income.

An inexperienced Medical Transcriptionist will typically be better off with a compensation structure that guarantees an hourly wage. Securing a job with an hourly wage rate allows the new transcriptionist to earn a minumum amount of income during the least productive period of her career. Experienced transcriptionists are almost always better off being paid on production - provided they have the motivation to produce consistently.

Geographic location is still an important driver of wages - with those residing on the east and west coasts commanding the highest wages. This phenomena is primarily a consequence of the higher cost of living on the coasts. However, as remote dictation and transcription technology continues to proliferate, geographic pay differentials will begin to erode.

Most Medical Transcription operations are continually seeking new employees or contractors. The growth in the scope and complexity of medical records has been significant over the past several years and the demand for qualified help currently outstrips supply. There are abundant opportunities for an ambitious transcriptionist to increase his or her income.

If you are serious about your career it is important that you manage it aggressively. This implies that you do not necessarily settle for the first thing that comes along. If you are currently working as a Medical Transcriptionist and are dissatisfied with your current situation, you should take special care not to jump at the first opportunity that presents itself - simply as a means of getting out of an unpleasant situation.

Any move you make should be well calculated and meaningful. It should clearly move you in a positive direction. Be mindful of the fact that once you have made a move, you will typically be there for a while. That is why it is so important to make every move count. Make sure that every job change propels you to your next career plateau. You want to avoid making strictly lateral moves unless the new position will clearly provide an opportunity to gain a significant amount of valuable experience.

It is important to set stretch goals. Set your sights high and then work aggressively to sell yourself to employers. Think about getting the specialty training you need if that is standing in the way of your progress.

If you have not clearly thought through your career objectives then this is a good time to do so. Consider your objectives in the context of family, lifestyle, personal growth and income requirements.

Individuals who are most successful in their careers are typically those who are proactive. Waiting for opportunities to come to you is not the best way to manage your career. Think about where you want to be and then go after it.

Good luck!

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