A guide to help you discover careers in editing
So you love working with the English language and want to be an editor. You may be familiar with all the different levels of editing. Your degree might be in English, journalism, technical writing, robotics, or the culinary arts. You might be freshly out of university, or you might be looking for a career change. You may have taken an online editing course to hone your editing skills. With your certificates and letters in hand, you’re ready to take the plunge and join the world of coffee addicts and serial-comma enthusiasts (and critics). But before you become “Tracked Changes–happy,” you have to know where to find these careers in editing.
Editing career options
When people think about careers in editing, the traditional publishing house or company tends to come to mind. You know the type of publishing house: the one in which Elaine Benes was reprimanded for using too many exclamation marks. However, if your plan is to become even an assistant editor at a publishing house, you will need at least three to five years’ experience as an editor. Not to worry, though. In reality, many careers in editing are available to you.
We live in a tech-savvy universe, with new skills and gadgets continually emerging. There are independent editing boutiques that offer both editing and proofreading services. These independent companies utilize a very powerful tool, the Internet. They offer a wide range of editing services, such as technical and scientific documents destined for prestigious journals, English as a second language (ESL) documents, fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, and academic papers for native English and non-native English writers and speakers alike. Scribendi.com is one such editing agency. A completely online-based company, it has both in-house and freelance remote editors.
Freelance editing is one of those dream jobs that university graduates may foresee themselves doing. The ideal (stereotype or not) could involve an editor wearing pajamas and slippers all day as he or she happily edits the next big thing in Icelandic poetry. While freelance editing has more freedom than working in a publishing house (you can set your own hours, for instance), it is not something to jump into without a monthly budget and a business plan. At first, freelance editors will probably need to have a second job to earn their bread and butter income.
While many freelance editors stalk freelance editing boards to find their big break, there are more proactive ways to secure a client. Instead of waiting for work, go out and find it. One way to do this is to research all the companies in your area or beyond. See if there are any job openings on these companies’ websites. If not, don’t hesitate to make a cold call. Remember, though, that careers in editing are highly competitive. Flat cover-letter introductions will not help you in your job search. Be creative. Hook the hiring manager with a unique, attention-grabbing introduction. This can work wonders.
Even after you’ve landed your first freelance gig, it could be a long time before you can purchase that car you’ve been eyeing. After a year or two, however, your hard work can start paying off.
Careers in editing have varying income levels. Location, years of experience, freelance versus full-time in-house editing, and the types of editing or proofreading all play a role in an editor’s wage. American editors tend to have a higher salary than their Canadian counterparts. The government of Canada’s Wage Report offers a comprehensive list of low, middle, and high wages for editors by province. Quebec and Alberta have the highest wages on this scale. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Labrador have the lowest wages, at $10 an hour. Ontario and British Columbia are middle of the road, at $14.50 an hour. As more and more companies outsource their editing needs, more online editing work and careers in editing should become available. Rates of pay are intrinsically related to the demand for services.
Like income, job satisfaction depends on varying factors. Being an editor can be extremely rewarding. While most editors don’t receive recognition for their invaluable services, they are like word doctors. They know how to fix any document: résumés, manuscripts, cover letters, business reports, and academic papers. Their meticulous attention to detail might help an unemployed individual secure a new job or help a potential Ph.D. student get a research article published in a science journal.
However, with such responsibilities, editing can be an extremely stressful career. Most careers in editing involve long hours, heavy workloads, and strict deadlines.
Numerous careers in editing are available to the discerning editor who knows where to look for work. While pay rates and job satisfaction vary depending on the circumstances, editing is a fulfilling career choice for the right person.
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