Do you find yourself correcting mistakes every time you pick up something to read? Do you get irritated when you spot mindless typos and improper word usages? If so, then chances are starting a career as a professional proofreader will be a good fit. This field allows you to explore a diverse range of content from just about every industry before it goes to print. Not only will you be able to help polish content before it gets published, but you can also make a pretty penny for your efforts at the same time. If you are interested in learning how to become a professional proofreader, our guide below is a great place to start.
What Is a Proofreader?
A proofreader is tasked with reviewing all types of content for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Syntax and context errors are also included in a proofreader’s job description. In addition to these, each client or company will have additional instructions that may vary from project to project, or even from one content type to the other. It will be your job to make sure that the content is ready to go to print free of errors and with the proper elements such as font, headers, titles, and dates being shown. It is worth mentioning that proofreading and editing are vastly different jobs. Although an editor may proofread content when it reaches their desk, a proofreader will not complete any editing tasks.
Skills & Educational Requirements To Become a Proofreader
For the most part, if you have a BA in journalism or in English, you have the basic requirements needed to start your career as a proofreader. If you have graduated from a different field, don’t let that deter you from becoming a proofreader. For those with degrees in different disciplines, if you can demonstrate a deep understanding of written language, you will be able to succeed as a professional proofreader. There are skills and assessment tests you can take to prove your competency, and most employers will also have you perform a test before you are hired. Depending on the position, some companies may seek out proofreaders that have additional experience in specific backgrounds, such as law or medicine.
Hone Your Skills
As an aspiring proofreader, it is important that you have or nurture close attention to detail. Being a strong communicator is also an essential skill. You need to be able to meet deadlines and work independently. While you can proofread manual documents, most modern proofreading is performed on a computer or laptop. As such, you will need to own or have access to reliable equipment that you are able to operate professionally. Learning how to use editorial software, track changes, and create spreadsheets will also help you in your quest to become a professional proofreader. If you want to earn top billing, it is important to learn various editing styles such as the Chicago Manual of Style method and the Associated Press Stylebook method, which is much different than simple proofreading.
Finding Proofreading Work
Once you have your skills and your resume in order, your next hurdle is landing jobs. You can find proofreading gigs online at freelancing sites, or you can look for work directly with publishing companies or content firms. If you are just starting out it is a good idea to go for entry-level proofreading projects to both build your skill and your experience bank. This will help you learn various styles and methods that will serve you well into your professional career. Make sure to always ask for reviews and feedback from your clients so that you can improve as you go along.