Transcription services are especially useful and are needed in various industries and professions. Anyone from students needing lecture transcripts to doctors needing transcripts of appointments - the list goes on.
But how long does the process last and how long to transcribe 1 hour of audio can the average transcriber expect to take? I take a look at the complexities of transcription speeds below, together with the factors that affect the outcome.
Average Transcription Speed
Let’s first look at the basics and gauge the performance levels of the different types of transcribers. We can break this down into three categories - beginners or amateurs who have less experience, professional transcribers who are highly skilled, and automated transcription software:
- Beginner: 40 to 60 words per minute.
- Professional: 80 to 100 words per minute.
- Transcription Software: 10 minutes or less for a 1-hour audio file.
These are only the typing and transcription speeds though and that doesn’t give the entire picture. It’s commonly held that an average transcriber will take around four hours to transcribe a 1-hour audio file and an expert could maybe do it in 2-3 hours.
Either way, an automated audio to text converter online or transcription software will do the job much quicker and in many cases this software can provide live transcriptions.
Factors That Affect Transcription Speed
The rate of transcription is not set in stone and the difficulty can vary greatly depending on a multitude of factors.
We can say that an hour of audio could take between 2-4 hours to transcribe for a professional, but this would be based on a good quality audio file with easily distinguishable speakers and accents. As you will see below it’s not always that simple and the audio quality greatly skews transcription times.
The fastest transcriptions occur when the audio quality is crisp with no background noise or distortion. If you can hear the people speaking clearly, transcribing the audio should be easy.
Things start to slow down if the audio is grainy or background noise masks the speech. In these instances, the transcriber may have to listen to the audio file several times just to grasp the language and cut through the noise. They may also need to learn how to remove noise from audio to clean up the file.
Speaker Clarity, Pace, and Accents
I’ve got a fairly heavy regional accent and I can guarantee that someone would take much longer to transcribe my speech as opposed to someone with a more “generic” accent. That’s the beauty of humans - we all talk differently, with different accents, and at different paces.
This is, however, a nightmare for transcribers and it can greatly slow progress. If the speakers have regional accents or speak especially fast it could take multiple playthroughs to understand and transcribe what is being said.
Typing Speed and Transcription Tools
Typing speed is one of the most important factors that determines the speed of human transcribers. This is something that is developed and improved over time and it’s highly unlikely that an amateur transcriber can type as fast or as accurately as a seasoned professional.
Transcribers could also increase their pace by using automated transcription tools. In this instance, the audio file would be run through the transcription software to produce a document. The transcriber would then proofread and edit the document to make sure it was cohesive and accurate which could involve a second playthrough of the audio file.
Quality Control and Editing
There’s a common misconception that transcribing simply involves typing what’s said from an audio file or a live conversation. While this is the basic premise, there is much more work involved which is why we can’t go on the average typing speeds alone.
Once the text is written, it has to be edited, proofread, and checked for quality control. Formatting and paragraph structure may also be important if the client wants the document presented in a particular manner.
Specialized Content and Industry Requirements
Transcripts are often needed to give context as well as a written record of an audio file, so how can you transcribe quickly and effectively if you don’t understand what’s being said?
Specialized content can provide barriers and slow down the process as the transcriber may need to do additional research to spell technical words correctly. Additionally, different industries and companies may require additional work for transcriptions such as notes, explanations, and speaker information all of which take time.
Human Transcription Has its Limitations in Terms of Speed
I hope you have found this article interesting and have a clear idea of transcription speeds and the factors that hamper progress. So, how long does it take to transcribe 1 hour of audio? For the average human transcriber, typically between 2-4 hours. In contrast, automated transcription software could complete this task much quicker and potentially have a complete transcript within 10 minutes.