Medical Transcriptionist Training & Certification Online

Explore the top online medical transcriptionist certifications and schools, learn about cost and accreditation, and take away the information you need to get started towards your career in healthcare.

Last Updated: 10/29/2020
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Between work, family, and personal obligations, there’s no denying that you’re busy. Despite having a nearly full calendar, you still want to start a career in healthcare and you’re looking for something that allows for some flexibility. If this sounds like you, there are few careers more fitting than that of a medical transcriptionist. Medical transcriptionists not only play a vital role within the healthcare system, they often get the luxury of setting their own schedules and working from home. On top of that, you can get trained and become certified in less than a year.

So, if you want to start making a difference from the comfort of your own home, now is the time to enroll in the online medical transcriptionist certification program to get you there. From learning about program options to finding the information you need about cost and accreditation, read on to take your first steps towards your new healthcare career.

Top Online Medical Transcriptionist Training Programs

Gone are the days of graduating high school and signing up for classes at the local community college because it’s what’s expected of us. Now, hundreds of options are available to anyone who’s willing to look for them. Whether you’re interested in finding an apprenticeship, earning a degree, or acquiring certifications, it’s important that you do your research before applying to any program or school. Take time to discover the classes available, the costs associated with education, and the quality of education you can expect to receive. Not all programs and schools are created equal, and you deserve the best.

We’ve researched and vetted the top online medical transcription programs from schools across the United States with the accreditation that employers want and the affordable price tag that you need. Get an inside look at 3 of the top programs for 2020.

Ashworth College

Ashworth College may have started as a humble, family-owned school offering a single distance learning course, but it has since blossomed into a nationally-accredited college offering everything from online certificates to master’s degrees. The school’s Medical Transcription Career Diploma can be completed in as little as four months, though students can take up to a year to complete it if more time is needed. Several courses will teach students to identify the legal and ethical issues they may encounter in the medical field, to understand and recognize medical terms and major body structures, and to accurately edit medical transcriptions.

Employers often require their medical transcriptionists to have certifications that validate their skills and identifies them as credible and qualified. Ashworth recognizes the importance of this and includes the cost of the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) Certification exam within the cost of their medical transcription training which will help all of their graduates to find jobs once training is completed. All graduates also keep access to their accounts on the Ashworth College Central Network which can help them write resumes, cover letters, and thank you letters during their job search.

Blackstone Career Institute

The Online Medical Transcription program at Blackstone Career Institute can typically be finished in 8-12 months, though students have up to 18 months to complete the program. It will prepare students to sit for the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist exam (RHDS) administered by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI), and, after students have actual work experience, the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) given by the same association.

The course is broken up into 18 units and all students will be given course materials that they can reference throughout, the cost of which is included in the tuition. One such resource is a subscription to Benchmark KB which is considered a one-stop reference for medical transcription questions. Students can expect to learn about health systems in the body; proper English grammar and punctuation; the different components of a medical record; and the most common diseases, diagnostic and surgical procedures, laboratory tests, and drugs used to treat different disorders and diseases.

FAQs on Earning Medical Transcriptionist Certification Online

Finding exceptional online medical transcription training is more than finding a school or education center that simply offers a program. Every program has multiple facets that you should be aware of, including classes offered, the hands-on training available, the time required to complete certain prerequisites, educational costs outside of tuition, and more.

The best decision is an informed decision, so it’s important to learn as much about your program as possible. Here are some of the key answers you need to get started.

What are the different types of medical transcriptionist training programs?

If you are considering a career as a medical transcriptionist, know that you don’t have to attend four years of school to get there. There are many certification programs that can be completed in a matter of months or associate degrees that can typically be completed in two years or less. Both options and their accompanying benefits should be considered. Here’s what you should know.

Degree Types

  • Medical Transcriptionist Certificate:
    Earning a medical transcriptionist certification online is the most popular way to earn valid credentials. The certification can typically be achieved in less than a year and is a great option for those looking to get into the career field as quickly as possible. A potential drawback is that an accelerated certification may not offer the breadth and depth of education that an associate degree can offer, however the majority of programs are extremely thorough.
  • Associate Degree in Medical Transcription: 
    Earning a degree in medical transcription usually takes 2-4 years, much longer than the certification. However, the extra time allows students to achieve a broader and deeper understanding of the medical and office administration aspects of medical transcription. Pursuing a degree would also be a good option for those who want more experience since degrees offer potential opportunities to complete an externship before graduation.

What do you learn in an online medical transcriptionist training program?

Though every medical transcriptionist program is unique, the core foundation (courses, topics, and learning outcomes) of each should be the same. Main themes that should be covered include anatomy and medical terminology, law & ethics, office administration, pathology and pharmacology, and English usage and medical communication. Below are some examples of specific outcomes that you should be able to attain after completing your education from any of the medical transcriptionist schools online.

  • Learning Outcome #1:
    Understanding how and why medical transcriptionists must follow patient confidentiality guidelines. Knowledge of how medical transcriptionists are impacted by HIPAA and other ethical regulations.
  • Learning Outcome #2: 
    Confidently review drafts prepared by speech recognition software, and, when necessary, identify and correct errors and missing information that could compromise patient care. Identify common errors that occur during dictation and explain when the transcriptionist should consult appropriate reference materials.
  • Learning Outcome #3: 
    Knowledge of how to build a strong medical terminology base and how to translate medical abbreviations into the appropriate long form. Use knowledge of terminology to accurately identify the structures and functions of all major body systems.
  • Learning Outcome #4: 
    Ability to accurately transcribe and interpret different kinds of reports from a variety of medical specialties and proofread documents using correct report format. Demonstrated knowledge of guidelines for grammar, punctuation, abbreviations, symbols, metric measurements, transcription, and written correspondence.
  • Learning Outcome #5:
    Ability to identify and describe basic medical concepts related to examination and diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests, and pharmacology. Identify common diseases and drugs used to treat them.

Common Courses

  • Anatomy and Medical Terminology
    This course will help students learn and confidently identify and match the medical terms they’ll hear on a daily basis with the different body systems and structures being discussed in transcriptions. Students will also learn how body systems, such as the reproductive, integumentary, endocrine, and nervous systems, relate to each other. Common diseases and disorders affecting these systems and the treatments for them will be discussed.
  • Pharmacology
    This course covers drug names, classes, forms, dosages, and administration routes, as well as the healthcare professionals who are licensed to prescribe medications for the treatment of disease and illness. Students will also become familiar with the reference materials often used by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
  • Introduction to Medical Transcription
    This course will introduce students to the different kinds of medical reports they may come in contact with including chart notes, history and physicals, emergency room reports, consultations, office evaluations, and discharge summaries. Students will learn how to read, understand, transcribe, and edit medical reports and records.
  • Medical Office Procedures
    Students will learn how to identify basic technologies related to the medical office environment, interpret computer system requirements, install and operate basic software utilities, and navigate basic operating systems. This course will also teach students how to develop professional relationships in the workplace and professionally lead and manage office procedures and communications.
  • Law, Ethics and Confidentiality
    This course will emphasize the confidential nature of medical records and will teach students about HIPAA and how it applies to the role of Healthcare Documentation Specialists. How the law affects medical offices will be studied as well as the origin of the laws that affect medical professionals. Also discussed will be the laws regulating healthcare information that’s collected and maintained by government agencies.

Can you earn medical transcriptionist certification completely online?

Earning a certificate or degree in medical transcription is absolutely possible online! Since no physical demonstrations and practices are required, students can learn all they need to know through online lectures and classes. The majority of work a medical transcriptionist participates in is online, and those online skills will be developed throughout the course of study. Potential externships at the end of your studies may require you to travel to a certain location.

How long does it take to earn your certification?

The great thing about certificates and degrees that are available completely online is that the student often enjoys a flexible learning schedule. Those pursuing a certificate in medical transcription can receive one in as little as six months if they are full-time students, though earning a certificate can stretch up to 18 months if attending part-time. Those who prefer going the degree route will study for 2+ years due to the broader and deeper learning opportunities. Timing could be longer if students are attending part-time.

How much does online medical transcriptionist certification cost?

Costs can differ depending on the type of school you attend and where you live in relation to it. Students who are residents of the state the school is based in may pay a lower tuition rate than those who reside out-of-state. Attending school in-person or online can also make a difference in the total cost, as well as the amount of time it takes you to complete your courses. Here are some examples of what you might expect to pay in tuition in an online medical transcription program.

Blackstone Career
Institute

Online Medical Transcription Training

Total Hours: 18 study units

Total Cost: $1,214

NCC

Normandale
Community College

(in partnership with CareerStep)

Medical Transcription Editor

Total Hours: 640 Hours (will receive 1.2 Continuing Education Units per hour)

Total Cost: $3,199

MSUE

Mississippi State
University Extension

Certified Medical Transcriptionist

Total Hours: 195

Total Cost: $2,695

How do I get into an online medical transcriptionist school?

If you’re thinking about enrolling in a medical transcription course or program, you’ll need to research schools first before you start applying to colleges and career institutes. When you’ve found one that matches your needs, you’ll need to apply for the program or course. The following items are typically needed for admission into a medical transcriptionist program.

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Read, write, and speak fluent English
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have access to a computer and the internet
  • Complete prerequisite courses
  • Submit an application and fee (if applicable)

Paying for Your Online Medical Transcriptionist Training

In a world of credit cards and quick loans, it’s important to take the time to make a responsible decision in regard to your tuition cost. There are lots of options when it comes to financial aid, and not all of them require you to go into debt. Here are some of the options that could work for you.

1

Scholarships & Grants

Scholarships and grants are perhaps the best options when it comes to financial aid because you don’t have to pay them back. Seeking for scholarships specifically for those entering the medical field may be a great place to start. There are also scholarships more specific to medical transcriptionists that you can view below. Looking into your school’s scholarship requirements should be on your to-do list as well.

2

Student Loans

If you can’t manage to land a scholarship, or if your scholarship doesn’t cover the entirety of your education cost, turning to student loans is a great next step. You can find everything you need to know in our student loan guide, and you can also reference the Federal Student Aid website to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.

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Other Options

Other options include attending a school that requires an internship/externship after you’ve completed your course work. Some of these opportunities are paid, but even if they aren’t, you’ll get relevant experience to put on your resume before being thrown into the job-searching world.

Accreditation Standards for Online Medical Transcriptionist Schools & Training Programs

Online medical transcriptionist programs should come from schools that have been accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). This accreditation holds a school’s educational courses to a certain standard, ensuring that students are getting a quality education, and, for online students especially, a quality delivery of that education. You can check a school’s accreditation by looking at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation webpage.

Though not required, attending a program that’s officially approved by AHDI may lend you greater credibility.

Getting Your Professional License & Certification After Your Online Medical Transcriptionist Training Program

You can become a medical transcriptionist without getting any professional licensure or certifications, but it’s extremely difficult to do so. Taking the time to get both the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) certification and, after you have at least two years of work experience, the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) will immensely help your chances and credibility when searching for a job.

Both of the above certifications are offered by the Association of Healthcare Documentation Identification (AHDI) and each will validate your breadth of knowledge, raise employers’ confidence in you, keep you marketable in the event of cutbacks, and will get your foot in the door as a new graduate. Every accredited medical transcriptionist program should prepare you for the certification exams and may even pay the fee associated with each test.

Career & Salary Outlook for Medical Transcriptionists

After all is said and done, sometimes it’s the nitty-gritty details that you really want to know about. Here are the answers to some of your important questions about career outlook and salary potential.

Are medical transcriptionist careers in high demand?

Even though healthcare, and subsequent healthcare documentation, is slated to increase over the next ten years, medical transcriptionists are not included in that generalization. Due to the betterment of transcription technology and continued outsourcing, the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually predicts that the job outlook for medical transcriptionists will fall 2% from 2019-2029, which is a loss of about 1,300 jobs. Including medical transcription editing skills in your repertoire will offer some job security since even technology cannot be expected to transcribe perfectly due to accents and speaker volume.

How much do medical transcriptionists make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for medical transcriptionists in May 2019 was $33,380, with the bottom 10% of workers earning less than $22,160 and the top 10% earning more than $51,260.

Continuing Education & Related Degrees

Maybe you want to grow your career, maybe you want to try something a little different. After your medical transcription degree, there’s plenty of opportunities to advance with additional certifications and continuing education programs. There are also related degree programs with some educational crossover that you may want to consider. Take a look at a few degree options that could be a good fit for you.

Continuing Education

If you qualified for a medical transcriptionist certification through the AHDI then you’ll need to do 30 hours of continuing education over the next three years to be able to maintain that certification. Approved continuing education courses can be found through the AHDI website, or on the American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group (AHDPG) website.

Related Degrees to Consider

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

Medical billing and coding specialists work with a healthcare team’s billing department. They are in charge of assigning certain codes to exams, procedures, treatments, and diagnoses so the hospital can get reimbursed by Medicare and insurance companies. You can either get a postsecondary certification or complete an associate degree with certification from the Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) organization.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians, often referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They are in charge of maintaining the records’ quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper and electronic systems. A health information technician usually needs a postsecondary certification.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants perform clinical and administrative tasks in physician’s offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. They usually receive a Certified Medical Assistant certification or an associate degree which allows them to answer phones, set appointments, update medical charts, fill out insurance charts, take medical histories, and prepare patients for examinations.

Additional Resources for Medical Transcription Students and Professionals