The great thing about the rise of the Internet, blogs and self-publishing is that anyone can write and find an audience. Unfortunately, the terrible thing about the rise of the Internet, blogs and self-publishing is also that anyone can write and find an audience. If you find yourself ranting to your friends about badly written websites, and if Lynn Truss' "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" is your favorite book, you might find a career in editing. No universal standards for training exist, but some certifications and certificate programs are available.
What Editors Do
If you've ever stayed up late to finish a term paper, you know how hard it is to read your own work objectively. That's why most writers, especially professional or academic writers, rely on skilled editors to refine their work. Editors review a written work in search of grammatical and punctuation errors, poor construction, awkward or repetitive phrasing and other faults. You might also revamp the structure of a manuscript to improve its flow or cut unnecessary sections. In nonfiction writing, you'll often fact-check the work and verify references. In editing fiction, aside from your duties, you'll watch for inconsistencies and errors in logic as the story unfolds.
There are as many types of editing as there are kinds of written communications, so no one certification is appropriate for all editors. The Board of Editors in the Life Sciences offers a formal certification process for manuscript editors in their field, which includes medicine, biology, zoology and many other disciplines. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree and have a minimum of two years' experience of editing in the life sciences. BELS offers the certification exam three times each year in locations around the world. Certified editors with at least six years' experience and two years' certification can earn a higher credential as diplomates of the board.
College Certificate Programs
Several colleges offer certificate programs in editing, technical editing or copy editing. These can also be prestigious, depending on the school's individual reputation. For example, the University of Chicago is responsible for the widely used Chicago Manual of Style. Its editing program is correspondingly respected throughout the industry. Other schools, including the University of California at Berkeley and UC San Diego, have strong programs.
Industry Training Programs
Training and certificate programs are also available from organizations within the industry. For example, the American Medical Writers Association offers programs for writers and editors in the field of medicine. Industry portal Mediabistro offers a four-part copy editing certificate program, either online or on-site in New York City. Intensive seminars and online training are also available from other industry sources, including the Editorial Freelancers Association and Copyediting magazine.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Editors
- Board of Editors in the Life Sciences: Welcome to BELS
- Board of Editors in the Life Sciences: Become a Board-Certified Editor
- University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies: Editing
- UC Berkeley Extension: Editing
- UC San Diego Extension: Editing
- Editorial Freelancers Association: Education Program
- MediaBistro: Copy Editing Certificate Program
- Copyediting: Tip Of the Week -- Copyeditor Training, Part 1
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.