Comparing Transcription Prices

If you are trying to compare pricing between transcription businesses in order to get your audio or video recording transcribed, you will have presumably found that it is an incredibly difficult thing to do, because every single transcription business has a different structure to the way that they present their pricing.

Turnaround Times

University Transcriptions and TP Transcription offer a pricing structure based on the turnaround time you require. Our cheapest option is for a 14-day turnaround and our most expensive option is a same day return. We provide these services on all different types of transcription work but we vary our prices according to the type of transcription work we do (see below). We apply our cheapest options to 14-day turnaround recordings compared with same day return because it gives our transcribers longer to be able to schedule in the work as opposed to needing to prioritise one piece of work over another.

By way of comparison, a competitor of ours (Fingertips Typing) offers 24 hours, same day, overnight, weekend, 4 hour service and an after midnight service. They offer a discount of 5p per minute for a 3 day turnaround and a 10p discount per minute for a 1 week turnaround (their 2 speaker price is £1.20 per minute at the time of writing). It is fairly common to see this variety of turnaround times – no two transcription firms offer the same structure for comparison.

Intelligent Verbatim & Discourse Analysis

Most of our work is intelligent verbatim, which is essentially a transcription of everything other than noises or pauses etc. We do offer strict verbatim, which is the transcription of everything including sounds and the errs and umms. Our prices are slightly different for the two. At the point of writing this article our intelligent verbatim price for a 2 speaker recording on a turnaround time of up to 14 days is £1.05 per minute and our strict (also known as true) verbatim price is £1.40 per minute for 14 days. We structure all our true verbatim prices differently, whereas one of our competitors simply adds 20p per minute to all their prices for it.

Discourse analysis (aka conversation analysis or Jefferson transcription) is an incredibly complicated system for transcribing everything, including tone of voice, pauses and noises made whilst speaking. It involves using a chart of symbols and one minute of transcription can take up to thirty times as long to transcribe as standard recordings. We charge (at the point of writing) £7.95 per minute for a two speaker interview on a 14 day turnaround. We have specialist trained transcribers for this work and it is extremely difficult. A lot of other transcription companies do not offer this service as they are not specialist academic transcribers and often end up asking us for a quote as sub-contractors if they get this type of order from their clients. Similarly quite a few offer prices that indicate their lack of expertise in the area – one of our competitors offers to do the work for an extra 40p per minute!

Number of Speakers

We also price differently for the number of speakers, so our cheapest price is for a single speaker, our regular price is for two speakers (this covers most of our work as we are academic and business interview specialists), and we go right up to over 25 speakers for group recordings. Every single one of these levels is priced differently, because the more speakers there are, the longer it takes to transcribe. Every company is different – for example one offers prices per number of speakers at levels of 3-4, 5-6, 7-8,. 9-10, 11-12.

Languages other than English

We also charge higher prices for transcription in another language other than English and translation work. A lot of other companies do not offer this service and stick solely to English to English transcription work and we get a number of sub-contractor requests from our competitors.

Technical Audio Transcription

Companies do have differing policies on transcribing complicated and specialist terminology. For example one of our competitors charges 30p per minute extra for medical transcription. We charge the same regardless of the content of any recording – our prices are all inclusive.

Hard to Hear Recordings

We never charge extra for ‘hard to hear’ recordings. We simply accept that hard to hear recordings form a regular part of transcription work and so we have budgeted for that already into our overall pricing structure. This is in complete contrast to a good number of other transcription companies.

Similarly, unlike some of our competitors of the larger size in Silicon Valley, we never return ‘hard to hear’ recordings without having given them a go first. If we are unable to do them, we do not charge, and if we can do them you simply pay the price that you would have done anyway, and we take the hit in terms of the extra time it takes our transcribers to do the work. You will not find this option available at most other transcription companies, if any.

Most companies will apply an automatic surcharge to your recording for hard to hear work in order to complete it, or simply take one listen through, decide it’s too complicated and return it to you. It is important to bear this in mind because it does mean that the low headline prices you see on some sites hide this fact, and it is highly likely if you have the type of recording that needs transcribing in the first place, you are likely to fall foul of this extra charge on top.

Hidden Extras

Keep an eye out for additional charges for lots of different extras that you may not have realised are extras which are included by other companies completely free of charge. One example is regional accents – if you have recordings with speakers who have strong Glaswegian, Scouse or Geordie accents, some firms will actually require a higher fee per minute. This will not be indicated in their pricing online. Our company never adds extra charges for accents.

Administration Fee for Short Recordings

Similarly, some firms charge an admin fee on short recordings, so that they try to avoid any non-profitable work in favour of more profitable longer work. We cover all recordings at exactly the same price, whether your recording is one minute long or 2000 hours long. We never turn down work and we have found over the years that some of our best clients have come to us with very short pieces of work and later come back with a huge ongoing academic research project.

Keep an eye out for administration fees, because some firms do not add them in until much later in the order process.

Subscription Model

Finally, some transcription businesses offer their services on a subscription model, which means that you purchase time with them every month and if it is not used you lose that time. You can quite often see these companies online and the clue that they offer subscription only models is the absence of any prices online. We have opted more for a pay as you go service; we complete the work and then invoice. No payment required in advance.

Necessary Return Time & Keeping Costs Low

Bear in mind the difference in return times. There is no point paying a high price for a same day return time if you have no need for the recording to be returned on the same day. Similarly, if you do not need the recording back for some time because it forms part of a big project, which is ongoing, then you may as well opt for the longest turnaround time you can get at the lowest possible price.


So, you can see from the above that all transcription businesses are completely different when it comes to pricing, but you do need to be very careful when opting for the lowest price as to exactly what you are getting. One company advertises prices ‘from’ 55p per minute, but this does not include all the extras and requires you to do more than £5,000 worth of work. This model makes no sense at all to us – you either charge a fee based on an economically viable calculation of profit & overheads, or you go out of business! We have seen a lot of transcription companies come and go in our term in the industry – we are still here after 20 years!

Finally, bear in mind that if you try to send a recording with any background noise at all or hard to hear accents to an artificial intelligence transcription website, the chances are you are likely to just get a load of gibberish back again. Whilst AI transcription may be incredibly cheap, there is a reason and you pay for what you get. The vast majority of AI transcription is not fit for purpose unless you are dictating into a recording device. So many times over the years, particularly recently, we have had to start a subtitling or recording project from scratch for a client who has tried out the artificial route and the transcription they have had undertaken by the automated transcription service has been completely useless and we have had to start again.

Our Accreditations

We are Cyber Essentials Plus audited annually and we hold the Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus certificates. We are UKAS ISO 27001:2022 audited and accredited and ISO 9001 & ISO 14001 systems accredited company. We are members of the American Translators Association and we are assessed for GDPR compliance annually by IASME (Cyber Assurance Level 1).

10% Profits to Charity

10% of our profits are donated to the Ten Percent Foundation, a charitable trust registered in the UK. Since 2000 over £150,000 has been donated to projects in Africa and the UK. Click here for details.