How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist in Alabama

The healthcare field is always in need of trained workers of all kinds. If you are interested in working in the healthcare field but can’t go to medical or nursing school, or don’t want to care directly for patients, you might want to think about working as a medical transcriptionist. Medical transcriptionists listen to audio recordings that doctors and other medical professionals make and transcribe the recording into a typewritten document. They also review and edit these documents and interpret the medical terminology and abbreviations used in discharge summaries, medical histories and other medical records.

Requirements for Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist in Alabama

You do not need a license or certification to become a medical transcriptionist in Alabama or any state. There aren’t any specific educational requirements either, other than having a high school diploma or GED. However, some particular knowledge is required to do this job, so completing a post-secondary medical transcription program would be very beneficial. These programs are usually certificate programs and can be completed in one to two years.

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Educational Programs in Alabama

There are quite a few medical transcription programs available in the state. Online programs are also an option for those who can’t take classes on campus, or if a program isn’t offered in their area. Here is an overview of a few of the programs:

  • Jefferson State Community College. Jefferson State Community College has campuses in Jefferson, Chilton-Clanton, Shelby-Hoover and St. Clair-Pell City, and offers a medical transcription and editing program. The program curriculum is approved by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) and teaches students the skills they need to work as a medical transcriptionist as well as simulates real-world training. This program can be taken on campus or at a more flexible pace online. It consists of 640 clock hours, and the length of completion will depend on the speed at which you take courses.
  • Bishop State Community College. Bishop State Community College offers a certificate program in medical transcription. This program consists of 26 credit hours and trains students to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes and even in their own homes. Students who complete this program are also eligible to take the national certification examination. Admission to this program is limited, as there are only a few spots available each term.
  • Penn Foster College. Penn Foster College has a program in medical transcription that is taken entirely online. This program is nationally accredited. Tuition for the medical transcription program can be paid all at once or in installments. Students learn about speech recognition software and how to produce medical reports. Most of the programs available through Penn Foster can be completed in less than a year.

Medical Transcriptionist Certification

Certification isn’t mandatory, but many employers prefer to hire someone who has certification. One organization that is known for medical transcription certification is the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). There are two levels of certification available through AHDI:

  • Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist. This credential is for medical transcriptionists who just graduated from training and have two years or less of work experience.
  • Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist. This credential can be earned after you have completed the RHDS credential, and you should have more than two years of work experience.

You must pass an exam before becoming certified.

Job Growth and Salary Expectations

Nationally, the job market for medical transcriptionists is declining. In Alabama, the field is expected to see a ten percent decrease between 2016 and 2026. However, there will still be spots available as people retire or leave this job for other fields. Completing a post-secondary program and getting certified may increase your chances of being hired.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical transcriptionists are paid an average annual salary of $34,770 nationwide. In Alabama, the average annual wage is just slightly lower at $33,780, or $16.24 per hour.

Working as a Medical Transcriptionist in Alabama

Medical transcription is a job that can be done in various settings. Many medical transcriptionists work for administrative and support services, while others work in doctors’ offices and hospitals. If you live in a smaller, more rural area, you may have better luck working as a medical transcriptionist from home. If you are considering working outside of the home, you can expect to find jobs available for medical transcriptionists in some of the larger cities in the state. These include Birmingham, Dothan, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.