Transcription Certification and Certificate Programs

Get information on certificate programs in medical transcription and court reporting. Read about the required courses in both fields as well as job growth predictions and salary expectations. Learn about professional certifications that are available.

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Essential Information

A medical transcription certificate program takes about a year to complete. The program includes courses in medical terminology and writing style, health care documentation procedures and transcription equipment operation. A court reporting certificate program may take a little longer to complete. Courses cover legal terminology and business ethics as well as the procedures for several types of transcription work, such as voice recording and captioning. These programs require a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission.

Graduates of these programs can apply for certification from professional organizations. While not mandatory, certification is desired by many employers. There are recommendations, but no requirements for certification in medical transcription, while some certification organizations require court reporters to pass an exam.


Medical Transcriptionist Certificate

Medical transcriptionists translate and transcribe the voice-recordings of physicians and doctors into permanent records. Medical transcriptionists may work from a hospital or health care facility office, in a laboratory, a library or from home.

Medical transcriptionist certificates are offered at a variety of vocational schools, distance learning programs and community colleges. These 1-year programs emphasize skills in medical terminology, health care documentation, transcription equipment and medical grammar, punctuation and style. Some programs offer basic anatomy coursework and supervised job training.

Educational Prerequisites

Admissions prerequisites vary by program, but typically require that students possess high school diplomas or equivalency certificates. Some programs will admit non-high school graduates, assuming students demonstrate ability through work history and testing.

Program Coursework

Medical certificate programs are usually completed in one year and require around 33 hours of coursework. Typical course include:

  • Document processing
  • Medical terminology
  • Basics of medical transcription
  • Basics of medical software
  • Medical transcription applications

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, the field of medical transcription is expected to grow by six percent between 2010 and 2020, particularly as technology advances and older transcriptionists phase out of the field. The BLS also projected the average medical transcriptionist earned about $16.66 an hour in May 2012.

Continuing Education Information

Students may elect to pursue an associate's degree in medical transcription. Many medical transcriptionists also seek professional certification through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI), the largest professional organization for medical transcriptionists. Although the AHDI recommends possession of a certificate and at least two years of work experience or an associate's degree in medical transcription as preparation for the exam, there are no requirements for eligibility.

Certification can increase marketability in the field and lead to higher wages. In addition, medical transcriptionists may take continuing education classes in technology or related administrative skills to help increase their marketability.


Legal Transcriptionist (Court Reporter) Certificate

Legal transcriptionists, more commonly known as court reporters, are trained for what is known as 'verbatim court reporting.' Court reporters create written transcripts of court proceedings, legal meetings, depositions, conversations and speeches. Court reporting certificate programs develop legal language skills, stenotype machine proficiency, transcription accuracy. Specializations include voice recording, computer-aided transcription and captioning. Many programs also offer foundational medical terminology, business law and administrative courses.

Educational Prerequisites

Most court reporter certificate programs recommend prior college training or work experience related to legal transcription. The majority of programs require no more than a high school diploma or the equivalent for enrollment.

Program Coursework

Court reporting certificate programs require a minimum of 42 credit hours, although they can range up to over 60, depending on the program. Typical classes required in these programs include:

  • Real-time writing
  • Speed building
  • Stenotype machine shorthand
  • Reporting technology
  • Business law

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the employment outlook for court reporters is good, with a 14 percent growth in the field projected between 2010 and 2020. Certified court reporters, particularly those that provide specialized services, such as broadcast captioning or Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), are expected to be the most in demand. In May 2012, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $48,160 for court reporters, with the top ten percent earning more than $90,500.

Continuing Education Information

Many certifications are available for court reporters through the National Court Reporters Association, United States Court Reporters Association and American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers. Many employers require particular certifications from one of these organizations. In addition, certifications increase court reporters' marketability and hiring potential. Associate's degree programs in court reporting are also available, and they are minimum requirement for many employers.

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