There are some strange people out there - and I'm one of them - who actually love to type. For those virtual assistants or secretaries who fall into this category, audio transcription is a great way to keep our fingers tapping, and get paid for the privilege.
Of course, transcription can be hard work, not to mention physically wearing. I've recently had a job that involved about 10 hours plus of transcription work, and as a consequence, my hands started to cramp up. I've just invested in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to try and limit RSI and joint wear.
Unfortunately, there is no short cut to becoming a good and fast transcriber. The only way to get better and faster is to practice, and then practice some more. There are plenty of free audio files that can be downloaded to your computer to practice on. There is also a pretty good software download available called Express Scribe.
It is worth investing in some equipment as well. A foot pedal will prove invaluable, and help to speed things up. Nothing is more wearing on the nerves, and the fingers, than having to stop a media file and rewind with the mouse every five seconds. A good headset that cancels out background noise will also prove useful. I use the Olympus AS-2400 Professional Transcription Kit that has software, headset and foot pedal in one box.
In regards to what the kind of speed a transcriber should be aiming for, it does depend on the quality of the recording as much as on ability. However, the industry standard is that it takes one hour to transcribe a 15 minute audio recording.
I am a Copywriter, Proofreader, Virtual Secretary and Author.