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Indexers build up lists of searchable terms for things like books, magazines, reports, websites and photographic collections.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements. It can help if you complete a Training in Indexing course, run by the Society of Indexers (SI) and recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. You’ll then be awarded Accredited Indexer status.

Some take up indexing as a second career, using the experience they’ve gained in other kinds of work to build up an in-depth knowledge of a subject area.

The SI has more information on becoming an indexer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a good command of English, with accurate spelling and punctuation
  • a logical, methodical approach
  • very high standards of accuracy
  • IT skills
  • the ability to concentrate
  • the ability to work quickly and to tight deadlines
  • self-discipline to organise your work, especially if you work at home

3. What you'll do

You’ll put together indexes for all kinds of documents to help users find the information they need easily. 

You’ll work on documents like books, periodicals, technical manuals, reports and websites.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • studying documents to get an overall idea of what they cover
  • identifying important words and phrases in the text, recording where they occur and putting them in alphabetical order
  • identifying the main topics and breaking them down into sections
  • cross-referencing related topics
  • organising the index so that information is easy to find
  • indexing photographs, diagrams and other illustrations
  • using specialist computer software for sorting, formatting and printing
You’ll usually be self-employed, so you’ll need to find clients, negotiate work and carry out business tasks, like keeping accounts.

4. Salary

You’ll usually negotiate your own fee for each job. You could charge by the hour, by the page or offer a flat fee.

The SI recommends rates for a straightforward text should start at £23.00 an hour, £2.55 a page or £6.95 per thousand words. 

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually choose your own working hours. However, the need to meet deadlines for completing work may mean some long hours, including evenings and weekends.

You’ll usually work from home.

6. Career path and progression

You could combine indexing with related areas such as proofreading and copywriting.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018