If you have a strong eye for detail and a good command of the English language, proofreading can be a viable job or career path.
It’s your job as a proofreader to ensure that every “t” is crossed, every “i” is dotted, and that every comma is in the right place. Working in this field may be a perfect full-time job or side hustle for those who like to correct typos and grammatical errors.
Proofreading can be done remotely, making it one of the most popular work-from-home jobs. Compared to other work-from-home jobs, plenty of proofreading work is available, with the majority of proofreading jobs commanding a solid wage. Becoming a proofreader does not require a degree or any formal certification.
If you’re looking for a way to generate supplemental or primary income from anywhere, proofreading may be a great fit for you! Read on to find out just how much you could expect to earn as a freelance proofreader from home.
What Does Proofreading Entail?
Think of proofreading as the most basic level of revision performed on any given text. At the basic level, most texts undergo proofreading even when not fully edited. When a piece of text — like a book — is edited, proofreading is usually the final step before publication.
Editing, copyediting, and proofreading are each a distinct step in the revision process. Let’s briefly compare the three:
- Editing: Editing is the first stage of revision — and it’s often the messiest! Focusing primarily on big-picture issues like structure and style, editing sometimes requires rewriting entire paragraphs, pages, chapters… even an entire book!
- Copyediting: Copyediting is the second stage of revision which breaks down the text to the sentence level. It addresses clarity and flow issues such as word choice and phrasing. Copyeditors are often responsible for fact-checking as well.
- Proofreading: As noted above, proofreading is the final stage of revision. It includes checking for much more than simple typos! Proofreaders look for those pesky stray errors that may fall through the cracks of the editing process. The goal is to polish the piece for publication.
Proofreading is done only on a final draft after editing and copyediting.
Although it’s the most basic form of revision, professional writers, bloggers, and authors consider proofreading to be non-negotiable. Embarrassing and sometimes very costly mistakes can result if a writer takes a “pass” on proofreading. Consider the following examples:
- An online store lists a product for sale at $19 instead of $199, resulting in unintentional but painful losses to the store
- An instruction manual’s misplaced comma changes the meaning of a sentence, confusing customers and resulting in angry 1-star reviews for the product
- A student’s college application essay has a glaring typo in the first line, costing the hopeful student their chance at attending their dream school
Clearly, simple errors can have potentially devastating consequences. In some cases, an error or phrasing inconsistency in a legally binding document could even result in a lawsuit! Yikes.
How Do You Become a Proofreader?
Becoming a proofreader doesn’t require a college degree, and you can get started without any formal training. But beware… you’ll have to prove your proofreading ability, which is why the most successful proofreaders complete at least some level of training before getting started looking for proofreading jobs.
Not all online proofreading courses are the same. Courses offered by Proofread Anywhere cover how to proofread and teach you how to make money as a freelance proofreader.
Look for courses that contain the following:
- What falls within the scope of proofreading (compared to editing)
- Common spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes
- Common style guides and their standards (e.g., AP, MLA, Harvard, Chicago/Turabian, etc.)
- Proper formatting practices for citations and references
- Best practices for different industries (e.g., publishing, business, academic, etc.)
- How to proofread using Microsoft Word (or other word processing programs like Google Docs)
- How to find proofreading jobs and succeed in the field
The best proofreading courses include plenty of practice so you can confidently apply what you learn!
Completing a proofreading training program — and passing an exam — gives you an edge over “casual” proofreaders when applying for high-paying proofreading jobs that can often be quite competitive.
Even after completing training, prospective employers and/or clients may require you to complete a proofreading test of their own to ensure you meet their in-house standards for proofreading.
How Much Do Proofreaders Make?
“How much can a proofreader earn?” is one of the most common questions answered by our Support Team here at Proofread Anywhere!
All freelance careers vary in terms of possible earnings because all freelancers vary by skill, level of experience, and availability. We’ve gathered some statistics from around the interwebs to illustrate the scope of earnings possible for proofreaders.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Median Annual Salary of $40,630
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2020, the median annual salary for proofreaders is $40,630 — and that half of all proofreaders earn between $31,660 and $54,120 per year.
The lowest 10% of proofreaders earn an annual salary of $24,630, which is still decent for someone without a college degree who is just starting out. Proofreaders in the 90th earn an average of $63,920 annually according to these same statistics.
These full-time proofreader salary amounts break down to between $11.84 and $30.73 per hour. Keep in mind that these statistics are specific to salaried, full-time proofreaders and do not include data from self-employed folks. Freelancers retain the legal right and ability to set their own rates — and they work according to their own schedule.
ZipRecruiter: Average $25 Per Hour With Little Variance Across Locations
ZipRecruiter’s salary data mirrors that of the BLS, but ZipRecruiter offers more insight into how much freelance proofreaders can make based on reviews from professionals in the field.
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for a freelance proofreader is $51,391, and…
- half of all freelance proofreaders make between $26,500 and $63,500;
- the lowest earners make $20,000 in a year; and
- top earners start to phase out above $72,500, with the highest paid freelance proofreaders in the industry earning salaries of up to $84,999!
When calculated by the hour, the national average salary works out to $25 per hour. That equates to $1,000 per week if proofreading full-time.
Certain types of proofreading, like proofreading transcripts for court reporters, require more technical skills. Adding skills to your proofreading repertoire can allow you to earn full-time income without full-time hours.
Learn more about proofreading transcripts for court reporters by enrolling in our free 7-day introductory course.
PayScale: Average $18.16 Per Hour, With Experienced Proofreaders Earning More
PayScale shows an average hourly wage for proofreaders that’s slightly lower than the other sources: $18.16 per hour. PayScale reports that proofreaders can earn anywhere from $11.82 to $30.14 per hour. Again, this data is limited to jobs and is not necessarily indicative of what freelance proofreaders can earn with their ability to set their own rates and charge more based on specific experience, such as technical writing or medical terminology.
Freelance vs. Employed Proofreaders: Who Earns More?
There generally isn’t a significant difference in the salaries of freelance proofreaders vs. proofreaders hired as employees.
Proofreaders who work as traditional employees may be entitled to other benefits, such as health insurance or a retirement plan — but this often comes at a cost. Most employee proofreaders accept a salary cap, fixed hours, and a schedule dictated by a boss instead of yourself in exchange for any employer benefits!
Freelance proofreaders are responsible for securing their own insurance and funding their own retirement, which is less of a concern for part-time proofreaders than for people who proofread full-time. Unlike their employed counterparts, freelance proofreaders have complete freedom and flexibility to work only when it works for them — even if it’s after “business” hours!
Of course, employee proofreaders can still choose to freelance on the side if their employer and schedule allow it.
Which option is best for you depends on your unique needs and preferences.
How Can You Earn More Money as a Proofreader?
A number of strategies can increase your earning potential as a freelance proofreader. While any of these might help in a given situation, they work best when used together.
Learn to Negotiate Contracts: The data above on average salaries and wages shows that there is no one set wage that all proofreaders earn. Proofreaders can earn a wide range of salaries based on dozens of variables. Knowing how to negotiate contracts — which include your project or page rate — improves your ability to secure higher paying proofreading work.
Work Directly With Clients: Third-party job sites act as the middle man to connect freelance proofreaders with clients who need proofreading services. While these sites can be good places to begin your proofreading career, working directly with clients eliminates the middle man and the steep commission/referral fee they earn by referring you to “their” client, who often also has to pay for a referral!
Constantly Seek New Clients: The most successful proofreaders are always open to new clients. Imagine you start your proofreading career with clients paying $0.01 per word, and a year later you’re able to bring on clients at $0.02 per word. While you don’t have to cut the lower paying client, you have that option when you have a higher paying client to take their place. You can also periodically raise your rates as your business grows and the demand for your services increases. Students within the PA community regularly seek each other’s help when their workload becomes a little too much to handle:
Network at In-Person Events: Most of the freelance proofreading jobs you find will be posted online, and you certainly should pursue these opportunities. Attending live, in-person networking events can become another source of work if you know the ropes and can market effectively to a specific niche… and speaking of niches…
Specialize in a Niche: Proofreaders who specialize in a specific industry learn the industry’s jargon, style guide, and best practices. They can proofread faster and more efficiently than a non-specialist who wouldn’t be as familiar with the terminology their client regularly uses. Proofreaders who’ve earned a reputation as a specialist are far more likely to get referrals!
Our most successful students at Proofread Anywhere have reported the academic, legal, medical, financial, and publishing industries to be the most lucrative.
Launch Your Proofreading Career with Proofread Anywhere
Has learning about the money you could make as a proofreader piqued your interest?
You’re in the right spot! Since 2014, Proofread Anywhere has offered courses specifically designed to help you master and implement the skills needed to become a proofreader who earns top dollar for their proofreading services!
Getting started as a freelance proofreader is simple — and you can begin right now with our free introductory workshop.
Designed to help you decide whether or not proofreading is a good fit for you, this workshop was the starting place for our all-star students worldwide who became proofreaders.