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Certificate in Editing and Proofreading: Program Overview

Certificate programs in editing are widely available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels of study. These programs train students in the specialized editing and proofreading skills involved in revising professional writing for publication.

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Essential Information

While certificate programs specifically in proofreading are not generally available, many schools offer editing certificate programs. Both undergraduate- and graduate-level programs are available, and some programs may offer courses in specific types of editing, such as medical editing, journalism editing or technical editing.

Criteria for acceptance into an undergraduate certificate program varies, but minimally includes a high school diploma or equivalent. Other requirements may include previous experience in writing or editing or completion of at least one college-level English course. Students enrolling in a graduate certificate program are typically required to have completed a bachelor's degree program from an accredited 4-year university. Programs may not require the completion of a specific major, but may include a minimum GPA requirement.


Undergraduate Certificate in Editing

An undergraduate certificate program in editing typically takes between six and nine months to complete, and can offer students experience in proofreading, copyediting and revising in both fiction and nonfiction writing. These programs generally take between six and nine months to complete.

Undergraduate certificate programs commonly teach not only the mechanics of editing, but the dynamics involved in the writer-editor relationship, especially when editorial feedback could result in changes that affect an article or story. Programs typically cover technical aspects of writing, including sentence structure, grammar, readability and maintaining audience interest, and may also expose students to the differences between editing for technical writing, Web content, newspapers and fiction. Some programs allow students to gain hands-on practice by editing writing samples, which may then be assembled as a portfolio highlighting the student's skills. Common courses include:

  • Medical editing
  • Editing in the digital age
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Copy editing
  • Professional writing
  • Acquisitions editing

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Graduate Certificate in Editing

A graduate certificate program in editing may focus on specific subjects within the fields of publishing and writing, such as the use of technology, or preparation for work in in a scholarly, corporate, academic or commercial publishing setting.

Students may be required to complete about 15-24 credit hours of coursework in order to earn a graduate certificate in editing. A capstone project or internship may, in some cases, be completed for credit. Common courses include:

  • Publishing process
  • Journalism editing
  • Documentary editing
  • Promotional design
  • Rhetoric
  • Publishing technology

Popular Career Options

With a certificate in editing, individuals will be prepared to work revising, correcting and improving written work. Because of the skills acquired in this program, individuals will also be able to better prepare their own written material. Some potential job titles include:

  • Freelance editor
  • Publishing professional
  • Writer
  • Web content revision specialist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015, the median annual salary of editors was $56,010. However, salary may vary greatly between professional fields like the newspaper industry, publishing companies, colleges, professional organizations and broadcast stations, as well as across states. The BLS also states that, commonly, professional editors are expected to have earned at least a bachelor's degree. The employment of editors is expected to shrink by five percent between 2014 and 2024, indicating that competition for work should be expected.

Continuing Education

Individuals can continue studying editing and proofreading by enrolling in additional educational programs, particularly those that offer more specialized courses of study such as technical editing, copyediting and editing for fiction. Students can apply to an associate or bachelor's degree program in the fields of English or written communication.

Upon completing a graduate certificate program in editing, students may continue to advance their education by enrolling in master's degree programs in professional writing or editing. They may also choose to enroll in programs that can expand their knowledge of certain areas, including electronic publishing or multimedia production.

A certificate in editing can be earned by either undergraduate or graduate students. Most programs include hands-on editing practice, and some programs include internships or require completion of professional portfolios.

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