How to Become a Proofreader: Qualifications, Education & Pay
Are you quick to spot a typo or bothered when a writer uses “then” in a sentence that calls for “than”? If so, you might make a good proofreader.
All sorts of companies hire eagle-eyed proofreaders to ensure their written documents are free of errors before being seen by others. Misspellings, incorrect grammar, and similar mistakes reflect poorly on a business and can cause problems or confusion. (Imagine, for instance, an ad that promotes a product on sale for $14 rather than the intended $41—big difference!)
Think proofreading sounds like a possible match to your interests and talents? Read on to learn all about how to become a proofreader.
What Is a Proofreader?
Each proofreader job description contains company-specific responsibilities, but the heart of any proofreading role involves meticulously reviewing a piece of writing to ensure it is at its best. Proofreaders catch spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. They also look at the format to make certain all elements are included and appear as they should—spotting things like a sentence printing twice or accidentally getting omitted, a headline failing to show as bold, or the date missing from a document.
Proofreading vs. Editing
Despite similarities, proofreading and editing are not the same thing. Editors generally perform duties such as planning content, assigning work, reviewing submissions, and making revisions. By the time copy reaches a proofreader, all rewrites should be complete. The proofreader ensures the final product is free of errors.
That said, proofreader job descriptions may contain elements that venture into editing territory. Smaller businesses especially may expect proofreaders to assume greater responsibilities. In larger companies, proofreaders sometimes use their experience as a stepping stone to higher-level editorial positions.
How Much Money do Proofreaders Make?
Proofreaders earn a mean hourly wage of $20.17, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industries with the highest levels of employment of proofreaders include newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers; scientific and technical services; business support services; employment services; and advertising and public relation firms.
Educational Requirements for Proofreaders
Proofreaders oftentimes hold a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism. However, graduates in other disciplines also can succeed as proofreaders by demonstrating their understanding of written language. Employers frequently require candidates to take a proofreading test to show competency.
Certain proofreading positions call for an advanced degree and/or experience in a particular industry. A background in law, for instance, proves useful for proofreaders of legal documents.
Skills Proofreaders Need
Aspiring proofreaders should be strong communicators who pay close attention to detail. Applicants also need the ability to work independently and to meet deadlines consistently.
Most modern-day proofreading gets performed on computers. Familiarity with word processing (especially change-tracking features), editorial software, and spreadsheets proves helpful.
Some employers seek candidates who are familiar with specific editorial styles. Knowledge of the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and/or the Chicago Manual of Style before hitting the market provides a definite advantage.
Finding Flexible Proofreading Jobs
Like writing and editorial positions in general, proofreading lends itself to remote and work-from-home arrangements. Besides filling full-time roles, companies often hire proofreaders on a freelance/contract basis.
If this is something you’d be interested in, FlexJobs has you covered. We post full-time, part-time, contract, and freelance proofreading positions that are fully vetted and verified.
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Beth Braccio Hering, Writer
Beth Braccio Hering has been a freelance writer for 20 years. In addition to extensive contributions to various Encyclopaedia Britannica products, her work has been published by outlets such as CareerBuilder, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter, Walt Disney Internet Group, and…Read More >
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