Why do agencies send me transcription jobs?
Thread poster: SusieSmith

United Kingdom
Jan 5, 2018

Is it only me this happens to?

Now and then, I get requests to do transcription jobs (EN -> EN). Once I foolishly agreed to give one a go and realised what a nightmarish job it is for someone untrained, without the appropriate software and not a fast typer. I had to get my husband to help to get it finished in time and we felt we had almost gone mad after hours of listening, stopping, rewinding and listening again.

It is a mundane and tedious job and the payment rates are terrible unless you are very good at it. I am sure that skill comes with practice and the right equipment. It is a job for secretaries, not translators.

As far as I can see, transcription has nothing to do with translation unless it's from one language to another. So why do agencies seem to think they are similar tasks?


Stuart Hoskins
Local time: 22:58
Czech to English
+ ...
Because you're a native speaker Jan 5, 2018

I think they do ultimately want a translation, don’t they? I mean, if the client wants a translation of the spoken word, it’s logical for the agency (?) to ask a native (someone on their books, i.e. more likely a translator than a secretary) to transcribe it first. They then pass the transcription on to the person they want to translate it. If this is the case, you’re just the first step in the process and, unfortunately, people (agencies…) don’t seem to realise how difficult transcription can be, hence the poor pay and the argument that “it’s only ten minutes’ worth of material” (which can take hours to transcribe).


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The worst Jan 5, 2018

Apparently you haven't faced the worst yet.
I tried to describe and provide preventative advice at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/lectures-en.html

Anyway, my solution to steer away from transcription requests is that since I translate video for dubbing and subtitling, which uses the same software/process, my price for transcription is several times higher than monolingual transcriptionists'. My analogy is with hiring a racing pilot to drive a taxicab.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Why do agencies send me transcription jobs?

Advanced search

WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »

  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search