What are the main characteristics of a professional transcriber?

We were recently asked this by a client looking around at transcription services, and we had to think about it for a while! In fact, we also asked our transcribers for their thoughts.

A selection of three responses is below:


As soon as the audio begins you are immersed in a monologue, or dialogue with any number of people, anywhere in the world, about absolutely any subject. I have always been nocturnal and absolutely love being able to work through the night. I have an illuminated keyboard, which can change colour, a bit like a mood ring!


Being a good transcriber is not just about having fast typing skills – although that is a must. I’ve come across so many transcripts that have different regional accents as well as a variety of worldwide accents, so having a good pair of ears to decipher what is being said definitely helps – together with noise cancelling earphones of course. You also need good research skills to look up unusual names, places, medical terms, legal terms, religious terms etc. Patience when transcribing a more challenging transcript and not forgetting good proof reading skills to check what you’ve heard and typed actually makes sense!


My first thought was patience! I’d say the main qualities needed range from the ability to understand how to research a wide variety of topics; sometimes a great deal of emotional strength and mental resilience (ie being a tough cookie) is needed when the material is distressing and heartbreaking; a curious and inquisitive mind helps in maintaining interest in the variety of material we work with, and of course excellent English and a good grasp of regional accents and non-native accents.

Our thoughts

A transcriber needs to be able to listen very carefully to a recording, quickly process it, and then instantly be able to type that out at high speed into a document. A good transcriber will do this subconsciously and will be typing as they listen without necessarily needing to concentrate on every word.

Fast typing skills

Being able to type at high speed is essential. Anyone who is not able to quickly convert the audio they are listening to into a written document will not be able to remember what they have just heard for a long enough period of time in order to be able to accurately reflect that in their written work.

However, fast typing skills do not assist if, as Sarah & Jennifer both mention above, you do not have good research skills to be able to accurately transcribe in a range of fields.


Transcribers need to be able to understand the terminology they are listening to in the audio or video recording. Quite a lot of our work is high end academic research, but similarly quite a lot is academic research based on conversations with ordinary people. Our transcribers are all native English speakers living and working in the UK. We have transcribers who are specialists in understanding particular regional accents and use of language, as well as transcribers who are able to cover all differing types of accents across the UK and around the world. We also, somewhat uniquely, provide transcription services in a large number of languages.

Professional transcribers

We very often have academic transcribers who are experienced in particular research areas. This means that when they hear particular terminology within those interviews, they are able to accurately transcribe it.


One of the key benefits of using our company to do your transcription work is that we provide a bespoke service. Unlike some of our larger competitors, we never return work uncompleted because we have not been able to hear words. Furthermore, if you have specific requests in the way you want the work returned or undertaken, you can tell us and we will do it. You are not restricted to our templates or our way of producing transcription – you can request your own style or layout as needs be. You simply have to tell us.


We work with transcribers over a very long period of time, and a good number of our team have been with us for over 10 years or more. We benefit from our transcribers’ integrity and honesty when it comes to telling us how they have found particular recordings, whether there have been particularly hard to hear bits, and to notify us about any issues or errors that have cropped up in the work.

Adhering to deadlines

A few years ago, we were called by a large company with a court hearing right after the Christmas break and over 100 hours of audio recordings that needed transcribing. They had been let down by another provider who had failed to keep to the deadline specified. We worked over the Christmas break and into the new year to complete the project, and it is testament to our transcribers’ commitment to deadlines that meant we were able to complete the project and get all the recordings done in the time specified.

Being human

We have humans at the end of telephones, and you can have a conversation with us about your work at any time, and we are more than happy to help. If you want to use a small UK business providing high levels of accuracy with transcribers who are humans, then TP Transcription is for you!

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.