If you are looking to break into transcription work, but you don’t have any experience, I highly suggest going to Amazon’s mTurk website here. If you don’t already have an account, it is very easy to sign up for one (note that it will be separate from your Amazon.com shopping account).
Once you have an mTurk account, search for HITs (the name for mTurk assignments) containing the word SpeechInk, which will bring up a list of transcription work available (or click here for a search I did). You will notice that you are not qualified for any of their HITs, because you will need to take a qualification test. My best advice is to read the style guide they provide, then read it again and again before taking the initial qualification test. Take your time as well, because you can only retake the test 2 times. You will get an initial rating, which needs to be 90 in order to qualify for their work. So, if you get an 89 (which would be really annoying!) you’ll need to retake the test.
Doing transcription for SpeechInk is a great place for beginners because they break down their audio files into very short increments, somewhere around 1-2 minutes. They do have longer files that seemingly pay more, but you should avoid those because an hour of audio when you are just starting out would probably take you all day. I know this because I am still working on getting my transcription ratio down to about 1:4 — that is, 1 hour of audio should take me 4 hours to do. I am not there yet, because I am just starting out myself!
The pay, admittedly, is not great at first. But, the more quality work you do for them, the more access you will have to higher paying jobs and bonuses for good work. The rate is anywhere from $0.25 to $0.53 per audio minute, depending on the type of transcription you do.
I personally love it, because I can do the work when the Wonder Twins are napping, when they’re busy playing in the Octagon, and when my Awesome Husband comes home from work. That’s hard to do with “regular” transcription work, where you are bound by the time constraints given to you by your transcription employer.