2008 Advance Salary Survey

As usual, I’m a little behind on what has become the Annual Review of the Advance annual salary survey. Two years in a row counts as annual, right? (Last year’s review here.)

This year, the study split out full time and part time, which gives a more accurate picture of what full-time MTs are making. However, the study continues to lump together production MTs, editors, quality assurance and supervisors and I just don’t understand why. In all the other job categories (coders, HIM director, cancer registry), MT is the ONLY one that just throws every job description having to do with medical transcription into one group. In my opinion, that would be like throwing HIM team leads or supervisors into the HIM director category. It makes the results very difficult to interpret.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the drill down.

The percent change in reported MT salary from 2007 to 2008 is +4%. Kim Buchanan, AHDI-F, director of education and credentialing at AHDI, is quoted in the article:

“You hear complaints that wages are going down, but overall the data shows otherwise,” Buchanan said. “This stat is showing we’re slowly increasing.”

Well, not exactly. Let’s look at the 2006 number from the Advance survey, which was $25,400/year. The increase from 2006 to 2007 (which was $27,800/year) was 9.5%. In terms of growth, MT pay rates slowed to less than half, so the 4% number isn’t exactly encouraging. So while we are slowly increasing from 2007 to 2008, we have decreased the rate of growth overall.

In my opinion, the issue of multiple job descriptions being lumped together makes it very difficult to take this survey at face value. I’m reading it and applying a huge measure of salt. I applaud Advance for making some changes that improve the data, but I don’t know why they chose to dump all medical transcription jobs into one category, as if they (a) are all equal jobs and/or (b) don’t have significantly different pay scales.

What I’d like to see in next year’s survey is a survey only of production medical transcription jobs. Not editing. Not quality assurance. Not supervisory. Just medical transcriptionists who spend all their time transcribing.

Let’s look also at the number for credentials (CMT). Again, because the survey lumps together all medical transcription job descriptions, it’s impossible to tell if there are more credentialed MTs who work in supervisory, quality assurance or management positions that pay higher than production MT work. Therefore, it would be erroneous to make any conclusions about higher pay for credentials.

In addition, let’s look what happened since the 2007 survey – the difference between what a credentialed MT makes and what a non-credentialed MT makes is less than it was. The 2007 survey had a $10K difference in pay. Since the 2008 survey eliminates part-time MTs from the equation, we should see the difference increase in 2008, not decrease; the difference in the 2008 study for the CMT is $7K.

My comments from last year still apply.

…there’s a huge pay differential for MTs with credentials, but in my experience most credentialed MTs are working in management or QA positions, not as production MT. It’s possible there were no more appropriate (and accurate) options and so the respondent took the one that best fit (MT). When the pay differential for a credential is usually less than 1 cpl (at the few companies that offer it), I have difficulty believing that adds up to an average $10,000/year difference in pay. At 200 lph, a full-time MT would only make approximately an additional $4,000 per year at 1 cpl pay differential for a credential. Factor in that very few companies offer any differential at all and it adds up even less. Every respondent would have to be working for a company that paid over 2 cpl differential for the credential AND be producing at least 200 lph. The $10K difference just doesn’t add up for someone who is doing production MT.

Also pertinent from last year’s review is that even if we believe the average full-time MT is making $33,500 per year (and I don’t believe that most production MTs make that much), it would be interesting to get an adjusted dollars comparison between what MTs were making 10 years ago and what they’re making today.

I’ll tell you why I question the number. Almost every MTSO I talk to tells me the average full-time MT at their company makes $28K a year. That’s $5K/year less than this salary survey reports. It would seem to me that getting MTSOs to report their averages would be a more accurate way of getting a large sampling, if we’re really interested in what MTs are making. Companies like MedQuist and Spheris have thousands of MTs working for them. If we took the average annual pay for production MTs at just those 2 companies, it would be a significantly higher sampling than the 516 full-time respondents to the Advance survey and we’d have a better picture. These companies could also give more accurate figures for each of the job classifications in MT.

I see Advance now has a fan page on Facebook so I’m hoping they get an even larger sampling next year. In addition to breaking out MT jobs more thoroughly, I’d like to see them poll the MTSOs for information.

I’m very interested in hearing from MTs here. I’m going to address other issues affecting pay in another post but I’d like to know: do you feel the survey results accurately reflect your own experience?

Answering some reader questions

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4 thoughts on “2008 Advance Salary Survey”

  1. I make about $4000 over the yearly average listed above ($33,500). I think what makes a big difference in salaries is who you work for. I have found that working for a hospital offers you the best salary because they are not a “middle man”. When you work for a national company, they have to get their “cut” first so of course they are going to pay their MTs less. Maybe that is how Advance should break down the salary next time?

  2. I make quite a bit more than the $33,500 average. I can’t really recall what the various categories were that I had to choose from when I took the survey. I do all the transcription where I work, but I also do a great deal more. I’m not a production MT, but am salaried with benefits. So, like North Florida Mom, my situation is different. If only production MTs were polled, I would not be able to participate. My company knows nothing about credentials and would not pay more for one.

  3. Well, I make significantly less than the average. I also early roughly $600 per month less than I did 3 years ago.

    I am a production MT, paid by the line, working about 6 hours a day.

    My MTSO does not pay more for CMT status. As a matter of fact, we received an e-mail last night that there will be a pay cut on one of our accounts.

    Like you, I would really like to see this survey broken down more appropriately and would really like to see the production MTs in one group and the production editors in a totally different group. That is one comparison I would love to see.

  4. I also make considerably more than the average. I agree… its who you work for. I’ve worked for hospitals, large/small MTSO’s and private physician offices. I make more working for a private office. The office I work for is a large 7 office company. I am paid by the hour, have benefits AND work from home. I was supplied with a computer from the company. My hours and production are monitored at the main office and I am required to produce an “average” amount of work each day. As far as “credentials”… they are worthless. Formal education?? I don’t have one. I’ve been an MT for 30+ years – there was no such thing back then. In all the years and places I’ve worked, not one organization asked me about “formal training”…. experience is what they wanted.

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