Almost 30 years ago I became a medical transcriptionist. For many years this was a very profitable career. Unfortunately, due to advances in technology and companies sending their work overseas, it is no longer as good a career as it once was and I am changing careers.
There was a time that I was able to easily and consistently transcribe $40.00 per hour for as many hours a day as I wanted to. In addition, I employed several other medical transcriptionists and profited 50% of the $40.00 per hour that each medical transcriptionist typed. Now, if I type as fast as I can I am lucky to make $13.00 to $14.00 per hour in short bursts and have no other source of income whatsoever. Thanks to technology, I have gone from a medical transcriptionist with a net income of $175,000 per year to $22,000 per year minus $2,520 per year for medical insurance, which leaves me $19,480 for myself because the work I used to do is now being sent to India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Deduct rent, food, utilities, car insurance, gas and phone expenses from my salary and there is not a lot left.
As a medical transcriptionist, I only get paid for the amount of work I produce. If I can’t work due to illness I don’t get paid. I get seven paid days off per year, and that includes vacation, sick time and holidays.
On the up side, I work for what I would consider the best medical transcriptionist company in the country. My boss is wonderful, the accounts I transcribe are fantastic, and the hours are great. There are no complaints here about my current job as I feel very blessed to work for such a great company with these amazing people.
In contemplating my future, I am 50 years old and due to divorce and other circumstances I don’t have a nest egg so I decided it is time for me to do something about that because I don’t want to have to look to my kids for financial support in my older years. With that being my motivating factor, I have enrolled in college and am working toward changing careers.
There was a recent incident that made me realize I had to start working toward making a career change. I received a phone call a few months ago from an employment agency. The man who called asked if I would be interested in a medical transcriptionist position at a downtown Houston facility. He said the job paid $13.00 per hour. I expressed to him that $13.00 per hour was low pay for a medical transcriptionist and I would have to commute an hour each way with gas prices being high right now. There would be no insurance or vacation benefits. He told me I would not get a medical transcriptionist job anywhere making more than $13.00 per hour. He said he had never heard of a medical transcriptionist getting paid more. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the job that supported my family for many years and put my daughter through college was now a job that cannot even support myself very well anymore, and it will just continue a rapid descent over the next few years.
It occurred to me that when I graduate I might have trouble finding a new job due to my middle-aged status. Currently, I am an at-home medical transcriptionist and do a great job so my age has not come into play yet. This works so well that I decided to work toward a new career that I can also do at home – freelance writing.
My major in college is communications. This will open several doors of opportunity for me. With a communications degree, I hope to get into technical writing which I can do at home and make more money than I am now. Also, I am writing for Associated Content and enjoying it very much as I my writing skills are getting better each day.
Here is my current dilemma. After working eight hours each day in my medical transcription job, I have my college classes, projects and homework. Only after that is done can I concentrate on my article writing for Associated Content, attend my writer’s guild meetings and work on the novel I am writing.
Up until now, I have been singing with the praise band at my church but have had to cut that out because I don’t have time to learn the music – or even attend church anymore.
Fortunately, my kids are grown and completely self-sufficient and I am not involved in a romantic relationship so I have time to focus completely on myself and my own activities. Still, I am quite exhausted.
In 13 months, I will have my first degree. At this point, I am totally immersing myself in things that will draw me closer to my new career. Why wait until I get my degree to become involved in my new field, right? The day I made the decision to be a writer I became a writer at that very moment. The fact that I am not getting any younger is my motivation to hurry. I may be tired, but it is a very happy tired as I know I will never regret changing careers. The activities I am involving myself in today will build upon each other and multiply. I know in 13 months from now Associated Content will have published a minimum of 400 of my articles so I will have a wonderful portfolio and will have practiced and honed my craft while earning a degree and maintaining a job at the same time.
If you are in a career that is steadily dwindling and will just continue to do so, today is the time for changing careers, not tomorrow. It is a daunting task for a middle-aged person, but it is quite do-able. I will continue to share my experiences here, and I am looking forward to my growth.