How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcription training takes place through a junior college, vocational career school or distance learning program. Programs generally range from 12-month certificate programs to 24-month associate degrees. Online courses are also available through many schools. (See a list of schools here.)

Some of the subjects covered during medical transcription training programs may include:

  • Anatomy
  • Medical terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Legal issues in health care
  • English grammar
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Typing accuracy and speed

Many programs also include externships in which students gain on-the-job experience under the supervision of a manager. These programs leave students particularly suited to direct employment.


Though accreditation is not required of medical transcription programs, some programs are voluntarily accredited by the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (AACP), an organization established by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Employers do not usually require transcriptionists to have graduated from an AACP-approved program, but some certifications may require it.


There are two voluntary certifications offered by the AHDI: the Registered Medical Transcriptionist designation (RMT) and the Certified Medical Transcriptionist designation (CMT).

Recent graduates who have less than 2 years of experience can receive the RMT designation by passing the AHDI level 1 medical transcription exam. To be eligible for the CMT designation, medical transcriptionists must have at least 2 years of experience in acute care, working in more than one area of surgery and using different styles of format, report and dictation. The designation also requires passing a certification exam.

Here you can see what medical transcriptionist programs are available in your area.

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