A simple guide to becoming an editor
Are you wondering “How do I become an editor”? Well, the answer is actually quite simple: the same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice!
While there is no single educational or occupational path to becoming an editor, those interested in editing as a career tend to have one main thing in common: obsessive–compulsive editing disorder (OCED). They also share the following traits: a passion for language, reading, and learning; attention to detail; an overwhelming urge to improve communication; and a qualification in a subject such as English, journalism, technical communication, or teaching. Some people plan to be editors right out of school, and others come to the profession in a more roundabout way. But one thing they all have in common is a natural predisposition for wordsmithery.
Education and training
Years ago, there were no formal training programs for those aspiring to become editors, but this is no longer the case. Some U.S. educational institutions that offer editing courses include the following:
- University of California at Berkeley
- The Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies (University of Chicago)
- California State University
- Boston University
- The Graduate School
- School of Liberal Arts of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
- University of Washington
A list of Canadian institutions that offer editing courses can be found on the Editors’ Association of Canada web site. This association, and others like it—such as the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders—also offer training courses, certification, workshops, and seminars.
Editing as a career
To become an editor, you must have an excellent understanding of grammar, strong analytical skills, sound computer skills, a working knowledge of various style guides, good people skills, strong organizational skills, the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines, and an overwhelming desire to help people communicate as clearly as possible.
There are many types of editors and many industries in which editors work, ranging from the publishing and educational fields to the scientific and medical fields. Editors can work alone or in collaboration with others, such as writers, publishers, or project managers. Whether you are interested in being a freelance editor or being part of an editorial team, the road to becoming an editor is an educational adventure. If you choose to do freelance work, keep in mind the importance of building and maintaining a strong network of colleagues, acquaintances, and friends. You never know who may be able to tip you off to a good job in the future. It is also important to market yourself, something that is easy to do using the various social and professional networking sites available.
So, what’s stopping you? Start on the path to editing as a career, helping others communicate more clearly and learning interesting new things every day. While there is no cure for OCED, becoming a professional editor is a great outlet for your compulsion!