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Proofreader

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Proofreaders check text before it's printed or published to make sure it's correct and complete.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

Employers may expect you to have a degree in a relevant subject like English, publishing or media studies.

You may also be expected to have some knowledge of the subject you’re proofreading, like science or sports.

You’ll need a good standard of English grammar and spelling, and some jobs require fluency in another language.

It may help to have experience in publishing, journalism or other related areas, or to have taken a proofreading course.

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) has details of courses.

You could volunteer to proofread for a charity or community publication, building up a portfolio of evidence to show employers.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • the ability to maintain high levels of accuracy
  • excellent communication and teamworking skills
  • strong IT and organisational skills

3. What you'll do

You may work in-house for an organisation like a publisher, or on contract for a particular project.

You aim is to check a document is accurate, while keeping changes to a minimum.

You'll read documents online or in print to make sure:

  • there are no grammatical or spelling errors
  • the text follows the agreed style
  • there’s nothing missing
  • text and pictures are in the right place on each page
  • page numbers are in the right order
  • chapter titles match the list of contents
  • there are no confusing word, column or page breaks

You may mark changes needed using British Standards Institution's Symbols or specialist software. You may also produce a list of questions for the editor or writer.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £20,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000

Freelance proofreaders are usually paid an hourly rate.

The SfEP publish suggested minimum rates, but you'll need to negotiate this with your client.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

If you're a freelance proofreader, you'll usually work from home and arrange your own hours based on the amount of work you have.

Working in-house for an employer, you'll usually work 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. To meet publishing deadlines you may be expected to work extra hours.

6. Career path and progression

As an experienced proofreader, you could build up your reputation as a specialist in a particular field. You could also approach publishing companies for work.

You may be able to move into a copy-editing role.

By becoming a member of a professional body like the SfEP, you could be listed in their directory as a proofreader.

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Last updated: 24 October 2017