How do I become an editor?


There is no set path to becoming an editor. Most editors have at least one university degree, many have worked in publications for many years and enjoyed the benefits of in-house training. A few have a qualification in language, linguistics, writing or editing. Some are now accredited under a recently introduced national scheme.

The best way to investigate editing as a career is to join your local Society of Editors, attend the general meetings and take advantage of the training opportunities offered to members. An interest in editing is all you need to be accepted into the Canberra Society of Editors as an associate member.

If you live somewhere other than Canberra and its immediate surrounds, we encourage you to contact your own state Society of Editors (there is one in each state, and you can find them listed on the IPEd website.

Membership of the Canberra Society of Editors entitles you to a free monthly newsletter and discounted fees for training courses. A general meeting is held at 6.00 pm on the last Wednesday of each month. It is open to the public, so please come along if you wish to check us out. Details of the next meeting and where it is are listed on our home page.


The training offered by the Canberra Society of Editors is typically in the form of day and half-day courses. It covers topics such as proofreading, copyediting, web editing, on-screen editing, and so on. Courses are run in response to demand from members, so the actual content varies from one year to the next.

Formal training, leading to a recognised qualification, is available from the following institutions:

The IPEd website lists more training providers at:

You should approach these institutions directly for more details. We will not make any recommendations about one course or another, as the different courses suit different people. You are always welcome to attend our monthly general meetings (free to attend) and you can ask practising editors for their experience with these providers.

Fees and charges

Fees charged by editors for their work typically correlate with the skill level of the editor. Fees need to cover the costs of running a business (such as insurance, professional development, rent, and equipment and software) and your cost of living (such as your mortgage, food, clothing and other essentials). The results of a longitudinal survey by editor Pam Hewitt will give you some insight into the range of rates charged by editors. (This links to a different website.)

Do editors need insurance?

Some editors carry insurance, some don’t. A 2004 survey of editors contains some very sensible and resourceful advice on whether editors should be required to take out insurance … [read more]

If you are thinking about starting up as a freelance editor, then get some training, get some good business advice and become an active member of your local Society of Editors to avoid the oft-reported problem of professional isolation faced by freelancers from many industries.

By Cathy Nicoll

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