The Qualifications of a Music Transcriber

Since music transcription is a very exciting field, there are those who ask what are the qualifications of a music transcriber. If you haven’t had the opportunity to understand how that works out based on my previous entries, this entry will tell what I think are the qualifications for a freelancing music transcriber.

If you’re expecting to say that you need a music degree to be a music transcriber, then I will tell you that I am living proof that you don’t have to have one. I certainly didn’t attend a conservatory, and all the knowledge that I gained in music transcription and music in general is through practical means. However, let me say that in all sorts of jobs in the music industry, having a music degree is an advantage but it does not guarantee that you’ll be a pro at music transcription or any music job. So, if you’re planning to take up music in college or are already taking up music, by all means try your best to complete your degree. Again, it’s definitely an advantage but it’s not required.

Now, in any sort of job or occupation, the most important thing is that you can demonstrate that you can do the job well. Unlike in the healthcare sector where having a license is necessary, music jobs in general do not require that. It all boils down to whether you can do the job or not. One of the best ways of demonstrating that is having a portfolio of your works. Now, the question would be, “What if I don’t have a portfolio?” You can always try to transcribe some samples on your own first, save them as PDF files and then you can use them as samples when you try to hunt for music transcription jobs.

Another qualification you’ll need is good working knowledge of music theory. You have to understand how standard notation is written down. You have to be able to read standard notation. This is absolutely necessary as a music transcriber. When you jot down notes onto piece of manuscript paper or input them in a program like Sibelius, you have to be able to produce sheet music that’s neat and very easy to read. No matter how complicated the music might be, the simplest manner by which you can interpret musical ideas into paper is the best way, and you certainly need to be grounded on music theory for that.

If you can already transcribe music and have a portfolio, it’s already enough evidence that you have a good ear for music. Most people offering transcription jobs would be convinced that you can handle it. There are also those clients or employers who want to make sure that you can really pull it off, and so you will be subjected to a transcription test. A transcription test is something you shouldn’t be afraid of. By all means, go for it. If you already have a portfolio and enough chops to produce a quality transcript, then I’m sure you can tackle such tests.

If you plan on being a music transcriber, have a good understanding of how music is arranged and played. You should be able to at least sing in tune and play an instrument, preferably a keyboard instrument. The more you know about how instruments work, the better you can become a music transcriber. Other than trying to learn how to play musical instruments, listen to a variety of music. It will definitely help you become familiar with all the sorts of genres you might have to transcribe.

So to sum it all up, your qualifications as a music transcriber are the following:

  1. A portfolio
  2. A good ear for music
  3. Good working knowledge of music theory
  4. Knowledge of musical instruments and various genres of music

As long as you can demonstrate that you have all the qualities of a good music transcriber, I don’t see why you can’t get a music transcription job if you don’t have a music degree.


  1. It’s probably rude for me to ask, but are you available for hire? I’ve been dying for a good transcriber, but know of no one…

    • Yes. I am available and I wouldn’t consider your inquiry rude at all. Just let me know what you need and I’ll see what I can do.

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