What is the difference between Transcription and Translation?

What Is A Transcriptionist and How Can They Help You.

The difference between transcription and translation is highlighted by their importance in the world of business. Both are essential skill sets, but differ in goals, applications and requirements. The first step towards becoming a successful translator or transcriptionist is to understand these differences so that you can choose which path best suits your chosen career path.

Translation and Transcription Defined

What is transcription and translation? Transcription is the ability to hear, understand and write down what someone is saying. As an example, transcriptionists may be employed by companies that record meetings or lectures. Translators, however, are required to convert one language to another without confusing its intended audience.

Transcriptionists or human transcription services may be employed at a company’s headquarters or located remotely. Quality and speed usually determine the options more suited to larger companies. Transcriptionists must have excellent listening skills and the ability to transcribe conversations accurately from audio recordings.

Translators translate written documents into another language. They may not be required to speak the language translated. This is largely due to the fact that written text, rather than spoken words, are easier to translate in most cases.

Translators are often employed by large companies that do business internationally or those that offer services or products in different languages. They may also work on websites that offer information in multiple languages. Similar to transcriptionists, translators may be ideally situated on the company premises or in a remote location of their choosing.

Transcription Is Faster

Transcription is faster than translation. For example, if you’re translating a document from English to Spanish and back again, your translator may require two days for each of those languages. But a transcriptionist can do both in less than a day.

Translation is more creative than transcription. This is because it requires understanding of the language used and the best way to put it forward to a native speaker. Transcription is more technical because it involves typing the text precisely as it is heard. With minimal creative input, output is expected to provide a final product that mirrors the spoken word.

It’s also important to note that transcription is easier than translation because it only requires you to type what you hear. Depending on the type of transcript required, this process could be faster still. Translation can take a lot longer depending on the nuances of translating one language into another, while retaining the original meaning of the words and phrases.

Experience is another key factor to consider. You’ll be better off with a seasoned transcriptionist of 10 years for example, over someone new to the craft. A transcriptionist meaning well and eager to help may actually do more harm. The nature of the work requires years of devotion to excel at specific skills. This does mean that you will be paying more for experience, but consider the money and energy saved in the long run.


Translation Is More Complex

Translation is the ability to take one language and convert it into another without the words losing their intended meaning. It helps if the translator is fluent in both languages, to better understand the nuances of both languages. She must also have an adequate grasp of how to convey the meaning and intent of the original text.

Translation is a complex skill to master and can take years before proficiency is achieved. A failure in translated text can have fatal consequences. Therefore, it is incredibly important to work with experienced professionals.

Great translation is clear and accurate. It should convey the meaning of the original text without losing any nuance or subtlety. The translator must also understand how to interpret cultural differences between languages and what words mean in different contexts. She must also ensure that the translation is grammatically correct and flows well. This requires a thorough understanding of each language.

Two Ways to Achieve the Same Objective

Transcription and translation are two different things. Transcription is the process of writing down what the speaker says, whereas translation is converting text from one language to another. Both have the ability to produce optimal results, when efficiently used.

In business, transcription is important because it helps you store information from meetings, interviews and other discussions in an organised way. This makes it easy to access information if and when required. Transcription also helps with communication between different departments within your company. Common ground is created for everyone involved in any given project or meeting.

In education, transcription plays an equally important role. Students may stand to gain the most benefit from using a human transcription service, as the meaning of those all-important lecture notes could be lost due to poor handwriting skills. Lack of time is another factor that comes into play and it’s easier to skim notes than it is to comprehensively jot them down.

Translation services is yet another way to save time. For students not well-versed in a native language, translation may be the key. Instead of becoming proficient in an already complex language, hire a professional to translate it for you. The learning process may be even smoother since nuances can be acquired through word association and popular turns of phrase that share universal meaning.


Transcription and translation are both important skills to have, but they’re used for different purposes to achieve a variety of outcomes. Transcriptionists work with audio recordings and must employ excellent listening skills to accurately write down what they hear. Translators, on the other hand, must be well-versed in the comprehension and application of multiple languages. While not a necessity, it is helpful for translators to be bilingual to translate from one language to another. Both transcriptionists and translators render an invaluable service that is still required in an increasingly AI-driven world. We trust that this article has shed some light on the key differences between translation and transcription, making your next project that much easier to complete.


With a 21-year track record of excellence, we are considered a trusted partner by many blue-chip companies across a wide range of industries. At this stage of your business, it may be worth your while to invest in a human transcription service that has a Way With Words.

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