Micro Mentor

Dear MM,

My current job involves a lot of editing, although I am not an editor as such. I'd like to move into a full-time editing role, but I don't know how to go about it. What do you suggest?

C Change

Dear C Change,

MM recommends starting in two places: research (in the non-scientific sense) and training.

First, keep doing what you are doing. Explore your options. Ask questions. Go to events where those shy and retiring beings called editors hang out. Strike up a conversation and ask them how they became editors.

You might also like to ask your new buddies what they do day to day, to get a feel for the profession. You probably won't want to ask them what they get paid, but if you're looking for big bucks, then turn around now.

The traditional route is to work in publishing. There are other options. For example, editors are needed for annual reports, corporate websites and government reports. Set up some keyword searches on job sites, and watch what this trawl catches over a period of time.

If you have a special interest or expertise in a particular area (for example, sailing or aquaculture), then start thinking about how that knowledge might turn you into an expert editor. Do you have a young child? Perhaps that gives you some of the insight needed to edit textbooks aimed at primary school children.

Second, while you've got your thinking cap on, look into the different types of training that are available. Editing in a non-editorial role is a great start. However, it is unlikely to be equivalent to on-the-job training in an editorial role. To see what might be expected of a professional editor, read the Australian standards for editing practice, which describes the basic skills and knowledge required of editors.

Although a formal qualification is not necessary to become an editor, it might be a useful stepping stone when changing careers. If you're not already working as an editor, then this type of training is a good way to learn editorial processes in a systematic manner, as well as to gain feedback about your editing skills and to network with other editors and aspiring editors. Again, ask the editors you meet what kinds of training they've done. (A list of qualifications and courses is provided on the IPEd website.)

Participating in any professional development (including workshops run by Editors Victoria ... plug, plug) will also show prospective employers that you are dedicated to your craft, despite not having worked formally as an editor. Note that a qualification or series of workshops will not necessarily land you that plum job you're hoping for, but you will fill gaps in your knowledge and learn new skills. Your editor's heart will sing - and it's just possible that you'll meet the people who will hire you later on. This is the beginning of the journey towards your new career.