Transcription Rates & What Must Be Included in the Price

By: Danielle Chazen



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In today’s world, organizations are inundated with a wide variety of transcription rate structures, which makes it challenging to compare one service provider from another. Therefore, the following quick guide is all about the most common payment structures, what transcription rate per minute and transcription rates per hour organizations can expect to pay, plus what exactly goes into those rates, so you can ask the important questions and choose a transcription company that actually offer the best service for the best rate.

How Transcription Rates are Structured & What Prices to Expect

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different structures of transcription rates in today’s market. To make it easier, the following are the common rate structures, and what organizations can expect to pay.

Common Transcription Rates Per Audio Minute

“Transcription rates per minute” is a common rate structure. Expect to pay $1-3.5 per minute. However, just because minute rates are quoted, it doesn’t mean an organization now needs to track its transcription service providers’ work minutes. Instead, what this rate structure talks about is how long the audio or video file is. When transcription rates are presented “per minute,” the intention behind them is “transcription rate per audio minute.”

Common Transcription Rates Per Service Hour

Unlike “per minute” rates, transcription services rates per hour represent an hour of a transcriber’s work. That rate varies extensively. The lowest we’ve seen was $15/hour, and the highest was $50/hour. It’s important to note that transcribers cannot transcribe a full audio hour in one hour of work. For a full audio hour to be transcribed, organizations would need to book a transcriber for four to 10 hours.

What Impacts Transcription Rates: Important Factors to Consider

When comparing transcription rates of different transcription service providers, understanding what’s included in the price can help make decisions that fulfill the organization’s specific needs more accurately.

Transcription Rates vs. Turnaround Time

Transcription services rates are often impacted by turnaround time. It’s not rare to see the price increase the faster an organization needs the transcription submitted, with same-day submission being the highest rate. Many factors can impact the turnaround time. Mainly, how long it actually takes to transcribe accurate audio. Expect to pay different rates to individual transcribers, agencies and software companies, as each option offers different turnaround capabilities. This recent article is a quick guide to help organizations navigate the industry, but as a best practice, it is recommended to compare turnaround times alongside transcription rates when choosing providers.

Transcription Rates vs. Transcription Quality and Accuracy

Of course, turnaround times, like transcription rates per audio minute or transcription services rates per hour, are easy to figure out. Either a company lists its standard rates online, or an organization submits an audio file for a rate estimate. But this is where things get more complex. As explained in the guide mentioned above, turnaround times, and therefore transcription rates, are often impacted by the audio’s quality. If an audio file is in poor quality, if it contains obscure industry terms, or if there are multiple speakers with similar voices, it will likely take longer and cost more to transcribe it. However, this, more than ever, is when an organization would be wise to prioritize the quality of the transcription. It is important to compare how different transcription service providers verify the quality of the transcription, including its formatting, its grammar, and perhaps most importantly, its accuracy. Even if audio files are in high quality, if transcribers are not familiar with industry terms and relinquish research time to save organizations money, or don’t proof and edit their work, it could have a critical impact on the meaning of some sentences, and of readers’ ability to gain clarity and make good decisions based on the transcription.

How to Reduce Transcription Services Cost Without Compromising on Accuracy or Turnaround Times

Unfortunately, while most organizations understand the need to ensure transcription quality and accuracy, many have budget constraints and attempt to reduce transcription services cost in order to stay within their budgets. Fortunately, as technology evolves, organizations are finding that they no longer need to sacrifice quality, accuracy or budget. An increasing amount of transcription service providers manage to reduce their transcription services rates by automating certain processes of their operations. Automatic sound recognition (ASR) is a great example of that, as it is a type of software many uses now to easily distinguish between a variety of voices found in a specific recording. Instead of listening to the recording countless times, doubting one’s self, and playing it backward and forwards, transcribers now let the software figure out which speaker is which. But the most exciting development in this field is, undoubtedly, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AR).

The Most Exciting Technology that Reduces Transcription Services Cost Without Compromising on Quality or Accuracy

Artificial intelligence software products not only include automatic sound recognition within them, but they basically do transcribers’ work for them. Yes, the software transcribes audio and video files on its own, automatically. Of course, for that to happen, software developers teach the software anything from industry terms to current events. For accuracy, the smartest companies actually don’t submit the transcript right away, even if it’s ready instantaneously. Instead, they let a human being review the transcription first, so the human being can make any necessary changes, and the organization can receive a 99% error-free transcription. Those of us who are especially passionate about accuracy have two human transcribers review every software-produced transcription, and transcription rates are still lower because work time is significantly reduced. In addition, the longer an organization collaborates with a company like that, the lower its transcription costs are because the human transcribers’ feedback is embedded in the software. The AI transcription software learns from its mistakes, and makes fewer errors over time, reducing human editing time even more.

Yes, You Can Have Your Transcription Cake and Eat it Too

When searching for transcription service providers, it’s important to understand what goes into their transcription rates. A below-market transcription rate per minute doesn’t sound as great when the organization realizes it’s gotten a non-proofread, non-accurate transcript, with industry terms and speaker names mixed up. But as technology progresses, organizations no longer need to sacrifice accuracy for their budget or spend more time in meetings trying to convince management to increase their budget. With the introduction of artificial intelligence to the transcription industry, organizations regain their power and enjoy the best of both worlds.