Do You Need Qualifications to Work as a Proofreader?

Do You Need Qualifications to Work as a Proofreader?

  • Aug 29, 2023
  • 5 min read

Here at Knowadays, people often ask us whether you need qualifications to become a proofreader. The short answer is no. Qualifications are a great bonus, but the only things you really need to become a professional proofreader are knowledge, skills, and experience.

In this post we’ll discuss the skills you need to be a proofreader, and how to gain experience as a new proofreader.

What Does a Proofreader Do?

Before we get into proofreader job requirements, let’s quickly recap what a proofreader does. 

Proofreading is the last step in the publication process. A proofreader’s job involves finding and fixing mechanical errors introduced by the author, or in subsequent edits. A proofreader will typically:

  • Correct spelling mistakes or typos
  • Fix grammatical issues
  • Address misused or incorrect punctuation
  • Make sure that spelling, capitalization, and typeface are consistent
  • Check that the document follows the relevant style guide

Sometimes, a proofreader will also address formatting errors, or leave a comment for a designer or typesetter to address. Offering formatting isn’t essential for proofreaders and editors, but many choose to offer it as a separate service.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Proofreader?

You can take several routes to become a professional proofreader, but as we mentioned above, you don’t need any particular qualifications. For most freelance proofreading jobs, the most important thing is being able to demonstrate that you have the specific skills and experience to do the job well.

This means that no matter what your educational or career background, proofreading is a great option if you want to make a career change.

Do You Need a Degree to Become a Proofreader?

Many people think you need an English degree to become a proofreader. While it’s true that studying English is good preparation for proofreading, it’s not essential! You don’t need a degree to work as a freelance proofreader.

However, if you want to specialize in a particular area, it can help to have work experience or a relevant qualification in a similar field. For example, legal writing can be difficult for nonexperts to follow, as it contains lots of technical language and legalese. Thus, many proofreaders and editors working in this field will have a relevant legal qualification, professional experience in the legal world, or both.

Do You Need Certification to Become a Proofreader?

While some career paths require you to earn specific qualifications or undertake a certification process to be able to practice – for example, medicine or law – you don’t need to do so to work as a freelance proofreader.

Nonetheless, gaining proofreading certification can help ensure that your skills and knowledge are up-to-date. And a certificate showcases, to potential employers and clients, your desire to learn. Certification can be particularly valuable for new proofreaders who don’t have a wealth of experience to draw on.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Proofreader?

If you’re considering a career as a proofreader, a number of hard and soft skills are essential for success:

Proofreading Hard SkillsProofreading Soft Skills
– An excellent understanding of the English language (spelling, grammar, and punctuation)
– Insight into the proofreading and editing process 
– The ability to follow a brief or style guide
– Knowledge of Microsoft Word (and other software if you want to proofread other document types, such as PDFs and slideshow presentations)
– Technological know-how (e.g., how to use email, video conferencing)
– Good attention to detail
– Excellent time management
– Independence and the ability to self-motivate
– Strong interpersonal skills
– Strong communication skills

If you don’t have all these skills yet, don’t worry. You can develop them all with training and practice.

How to Gain Experience as a New Proofreader

A key factor for those new to proofreading is experience, as you’ll want to be able to show clients that you’ve achieved good results on similar work before.

If you’re struggling to find work when starting out, you can gain experience by:

  • Proofreading documents for friends, family, and colleagues
  • Volunteering your services or offering a reduced rate to new clients (this is also a good way to get experience with different types of documents)
  • Reaching out to nonprofits or new companies that produce written content
  • Taking a proofreading course in which you can practice on sample documents

The more work you do, the more experience you’ll get and the more your proofreading skills will develop. And the better you get, the more clients you’ll get, too.

Becoming A Proofreader

If you’d like to find work as a freelance proofreader but don’t know where to start, we can help. Our Becoming A Proofreader course will equip you with the skills and experience you need to launch a successful freelance business.

Written by industry experts, our course is CPD certified. On top of that, if you achieve a distinction score of 80% or above in both Becoming A Proofreader and Becoming An Editor, you are guaranteed work opportunities with our partner company, Proofed!

Sign up for a free trial to find out more.

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