Become a Proofreader: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a proofreader. Learn about the job description and duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in proofreading. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a Proofreader?
  • 1:28 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:11 Gain Work Experience
  • 2:56 Consider Advancement…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Proofreader?

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; experience can sometimes be substituted
Degree Field English or journalism
Experience 1-3 years of experience proofreading
Key Skills Ability to work independently; attention to detail; excellent oral and written communication skills; familiarity with Mac and PC-based word processing and spreadsheet software, Adobe Acrobat Professional, QuarkXpress, and Adobe InDesign
Salary $37,690 (2015 average for all proofreaders and copy markers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2012 job postings, O*Net OnLine

Proofreaders are responsible for correcting errors found in written documents. This involves reading documents for format, grammar, punctuation and spelling. Proofreaders often compare the content against research or references to confirm accuracy. They may also be responsible for examining page elements, specifications, spacing or dimensions of an editorial project. A career in proofreading requires a skill set that includes the ability to work independently, attention to detail and excellent oral and written communication skills, as well as familiarity with word processing and other editorial software. Some employers prefer proofreaders with knowledge of specific editorial styles, like Associated Press or Chicago Manual of Style, so it's important to learn various styles during college. Keep in mind that this is a competitive field, and it can be stressful due to tight deadlines. Earning potential can also vary greatly by employer and publication, but overall, the average yearly salary for proofreaders and copy markers was $37,690 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Are you interested in pursuing this career? Let's take a look at what steps you might take to become a proofreader.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Employers generally prefer to hire proofreaders with a bachelor's degree in English or journalism, which are available at many accredited colleges and universities. These bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete and they include coursework in English literature, advanced composition and grammar, speech, communications, linguistics and creative writing.

Here's a tip for success: Become familiar with editorial software commonly used by proofreaders, such as Microsoft Word, QuarkXpress and Adobe Acrobat and InDesign. You may also need familiarity with both Macs and PCs, so take time to become acquainted with each type of computer.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

While entry-level employment may be obtained without experience, employers generally prefer to hire proofreaders with prior experience in proofreading or writing. An internship, either during or after college, is highly beneficial for this reason. Editorial internships provide hands-on experience in writing, proofreading and other editorial roles with local publications. It may be beneficial to seek an internship within the industry you aim to work, such as politics if you intend to work for a political publication or technology if you intend to proofread technical writing. You may be able to acquire employment with the company you intern for, or you may have to pursue outside employment upon completion of an internship.

Step 3: Consider Advancement Opportunities

After gaining experience, proofreaders may choose to apply for employment in higher-level positions, such as head proofreader, copy editor and associate editor. Such positions generally involve overseeing other editorial employees and establishing goals and deadlines to ensure the timely completion of editorial projects. Many advanced proofreading positions require extensive experience as a proofreader or advanced education.

Becoming a proofreader requires a bachelor's degree related to English or communications as well as practical experience in the field. With demonstrated expertise and experience, these professionals may advance to head proofreader, copy editor and associate editor roles.

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