When I first started out as a freelance editor, back in April 2021, all the other editors I spoke to recommended joining the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders (CIEP).
I duly looked into and and it seemed:
- Expensive (membership fees, upgrade fees, course fees)
- Complicated (tracking work experience and fulfilling CPD requirements)
- Time intensive (having to complete training to upgrade to higher levels)
As I was extremely busy at the time (I spent my first three months of professional editing also continuing my office job, until I felt I had enough predicted income to justify quitting) and I was quickly able to get plenty of work from clients who didn’t seem bothered about professional accreditation, I put joining CIEP on the backburner.
Fast forward to the end of 2023, and I decided I wanted to diversify my sources of work and the types of clients I was looking for. And so I made a resolution to join CIEP in the new year.
And I did!
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to get to grips with how it all works, and I think I mostly have a handle on it now.
To move from Entry level to Intermediate level, you have to provide records of 100+ hours of professional proofreading and/or copy editing work, and you have to earn six ‘training points’ by completing courses (you get more points by doing CIEP courses, but other places are eligible to earn points too).
The main goal is to reach Professional level – because that’s where the magic happens – ie you get added to the official database that generates work! And, to reach that level, you have to provide records of 500+ hours of professional proofreading and/or copy editing work – but only for clients whose main activity is publishing books (so independent authors don’t count).
So, to prepare my records with that in mind, I decided only to track my eligible clients from when I started freelancing as an editor – and I just tipped over the 100 hours mark (from nearly three years of work), which is convenient for applying for Intermediate level.
It does, however, suggest hitting 500 hours is going to take quite a bit of time!
Luckily, I’m hoping to get more work from publishers in the near future. And, if all else fails, there’s the option of taking the scary CIEP editing test instead – which you can do in place of providing work experience records, to reach Professional level.
In the meantime, I have to complete two courses to get the six training points I need for my Intermediate application. I’ve started the Level 1 Proofreading course – and I’m finding it a bit odd. It seems to put a lot of emphasis on learning the official BSI proofreading marks, which are the standard symbols used for hard-copy proofreading. But pretty much all proofreading is now done digitally – and word processing software and pdf-editing software doesn’t require an editor to know how to draw the marks by hand…
The CIEP argues that the symbols are still used in some publishing houses and that it’s good for editors to know what they are, in case clients require it. I’m not sure how valid an argument that is – but I guess I need the training points, so I’ll go along with it for now…
The other aspect of CIEP everyone I’ve spoken to is enthusiastic about is the community – people kept telling me to find my local group and join asap. So I did.
Strangely, however, there’s only one local group for London – and it’s not very active… There’s a monthly evening meet-up that has very few regular attendees, which is a shame, because I was hoping for the opportunity to connect in person with other editors. There’s also a daytime meet-up, but the most recent one was cancelled at short notice – I’ll go to the next one and see what that’s like.
Anyway – I’ve joined, the people I’ve met so far have confirmed that getting to Professional level is worth it, and I’ve also discovered some useful editing software from talking to them, as well. So, I’m going to persevere with the courses and see how it goes!
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