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Turnaround Ttime in TranscriptionQuestion From A Reader

“I have just been going through your page and I must admit that it is impressive. You have covered practically everything that is important. I was wondering, though, if it is possible to indicate the TAT that some of those companies are asking for. I am a newbie and can do one hour audio in 12 hours. Do I stand a chance with companies like” Florence.

Thank you, Florence, for this wonderful question. Yes. You do stand a better chance of working for companies like In fact, you are qualified to be part of the Rev community. Most transcription companies set 24 hours as the standard turnaround time to transcribe one hour of audio recording.

Related: How to Write a Transcript on Microsoft Word

But, for those wondering what TAT (Turn Around Time) is, this is the total amount of time the transcriber takes to complete an audio recording. Industry standard dictates that it should take, at least, three times the length of a file to produce a transcript.

For example, a 15-minute file should take a qualified transcriber 45 real-time minutes to present a client-ready transcript. Similarly, it should take him/her three hours to complete a 1-hour recording. That’s the industry standard. But, there are various factors to consider when setting turnaround times.

We have:

1. Audio Quality

How clear is the audio recording? If you have a speech, a lecture or a one-on-one interview that was recorded in a quiet environment and the speakers are cleared heard, the transcriber will produce a top-notch transcript of that file in the shortest time possible. But, if the file has a lot of background noise and there are echos all over the place, a transcriber will have a hard time working on it, which will delay its turnaround time.

2. Number of Speakers

How many people are in the audio recording? A person working on a sermon or a lecture will hand in their transcripts earlier than someone working on a focus group or a documentary that has 5, 6 or even 7 participants. So, the fewer the speakers the lesser time it will take to complete the work.

  1. Heavy Accents

From my personal experience, US accents are the easiest to work with. But, if you get a file that has Indian, South African and British accents be assured that you will take, at least, three more hours working than someone who just had plain US native speakers. You will have to rewind again and again just to understand what they are saying. Before accepting such a project, make sure you can handle the accents. Request for a sample audio before starting the project, if you must.

  1. Topic of Discussion

As a transcriber, I love working on self-development or business related audio recordings. They are easy to transcribe and the information is priceless. But financial, medical or technology related audio files are hard to crack if you lack the right skills. They have a lot of jargon that will have you frequenting Google for correct spellings than you would on regular files. This will really slow down the speed at which you produce the transcript.

  1. Typing Speed

If the above mentioned factors are in order and your typing speed is at 20 WPM, be assured that it will take you a little longer to have the transcripts ready than someone typing at 50 or even 60 WPM. They will produce their work ahead of time than you would. So, improving your typing speeds is a must if they are not up to par.

Read:  Do You Want to Improve your Typing Speed? Follow these 5 Awesome Tips

  1. Extra Factors:

    a) Verbatim

If you have been in the transcription industry you know that verbatim projects are time-consuming and take longer to do than non-verbatim. Here you must type every word and every sound heard in the recording.  Unlike non-verbatim where you overlook certain things like repeated words or irrelevant sounds, with verbatim you have to capture everything. These types of projects are mostly needed for market research or documentary purposes.

Read:  Verbatim Transcription vs. Non-Verbatim Transcription: Which One Should You Choose?

b) Timestamps

2–minute timestamps or timestamps placed after every new paragraph can really have you screaming. Having to pause every now and then to insert a 30-second time-stamp in a 60 or 120-minute file is not an easy task. It takes hard work, patience and dedication. Transcription is not for the faint-hearted. You need to have the zeal to survive.

c) Formatting

Some customers will request you to insert headers, footers, page breaks etc into their files. Ensuring that this type of formatting is done can take you 30 minutes to one hour, depending on how many the client wants.

Read: Time Stamping in Transcription: Know When And How To Use Them

How to Categorize Turnaround Times

  1. High Priority

same day transcription

These are files that need to be transcribed in the same day. They are very urgent and the client is willing to pay more for them. Usually, the transcripts are needed in 4, 6, or 12 hours max. A transcriber typing at 60 WPM and above is best placed to handle these types of projects.

  1. One Business Day

These are files that are needed in 24 hours. If a client sends a one hour audio for transcribing on Monday at 10:00 AM, he should expect a transcript back on Tuesday at 10:00 AM the following day. Weekends and holidays are not included.

  1. Standard Turnaround:

These are files that are not in a rush. Turnaround time is a bit flexible. Mostly, it takes 2 to 4 business days to get this type of work ready. Most clients prefer this period. The transcriber is not rushed and he/she is in a better position to produce top-notch transcripts.

  1. Economy 1 – 2 weeks

2-week turnaround-time




These are large projects containing 10 or even 20 audio files per project. The client is not in a hurry to get them done. This might be a summit, a documentary, or a focus group project.

5. On-going Turnaround Time

Just as the name suggests, these are on-going or long-term projects that can take up to six months to complete. As a transcriber, I like this type of work. It keeps me busy and I don’t have to go around looking for too many one-time projects that consume a lot of my time. For longevity purposes, these are the projects to seek out as a professional transcriber. Start small but work your way up to bigger and better projects.

How long does it take you to complete an hour of audio? Has your turnaround time improved or declined since you started transcription? What challenges have you faced relating to turnaround time? Please, feel free to share them below.


  1. Vickie Osten Reply

    I found this site while searching for current transcription companies hiring. Love it! Very, very information. Thank you.

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