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Are Copyediting Certificates Worth It? + 3 Options

Jackie Pearce

If you have been interested in becoming a copyeditor, you might have wondered if it is worth it to get any copyediting certificates.

Afterall, certificates can be cheaper than going back to school to get your degree in writing. It can also give you enough confidence to start to apply to jobs or do some copy editing freelance work.

However, you might be wondering if they actually matter when it comes to succeeding as a copyeditor or if you should take a different path. On top of that, if they are worth it, which ones are the good ones because there are so many out there?

In this article, we will talk about copy editing as a career, if the certificates are worth it, take a look at some of the certificates out there, so you can make the right choices for your career.

What Do Copyeditors do?

While we don’t dive too much into it, copyediting is the skill of editing “copy” (writing) before it is published.

You will see copy editors in a wide variety of industries, but especially in the journalism, magazine, and publishing industries.

They will need to stay up on the latest copy editing rules and also the preferences of the publication they are working for. Every day, they will need to comb through all kinds of writing to spot the errors and fix them so no errors are published.

They also need to make sure facts are correct, names are spelled right, and make sure the piece is as accurate as possible.

Advanced copy editors can also help steer the direction of a piece and improve it beyond just grammar and fact-checking.

What Is A Copyediting Certificate?

A copyediting certificate essentially demonstrates that you know the basics when it comes to editing copy. They can range from beginner certificates to advanced certificates, depending on what you need or want to do.

It shows you learned from a professional, and depending on the course itself, someone verified your skill level in order for you to earn the certificate.

There are various ones based on how much experience you have, what you want to learn, and how much you want to invest in your advanced education.

Some certifications are in-person only, some are virtual, some are cheap, and some others are expensive. Either way, a good copyediting certificate will give you the basics you need to know to tackle any editing job that is assigned to you.

There are a few things you will need to master before you start applying for jobs, so you can learn those skills either through getting an internship, taking on freelance work, or getting a certificate.

Do You Need A Copyediting Certificate?

Let’s just cut to the chase: are copyediting certificates mandatory to succeed as a copy editor?

No. However, can they give you a boost when it comes to getting hired? Absolutely.

This is especially true if you did not go to college for writing or editing but still need to stand out to potential employers. On top of that, certifications often cost way less than going back to school to get your degree, so it is a good option to save you money as well.

It can also give you the internal confidence to know that you have the tools needed to succeed as a copy editor. Teaching yourself a new skill and feeling confident that your work is good enough to get paid to do it can be hard to gauge.

That is why some people choose to invest in getting a certificate or going through a course.

Copyediting Certificates

Now that we have gone over the basics, and you are mentally committed to getting a certificate, let’s go over some of the available options out there.

#1 – The American Copy Editors Society

The ACES copy editing program is an on-demand that will give you all the basics you need to get your foot in the door as a copy editor.

They have two courses: one basic course to get you started that is about 12-15 hours in total for the whole course, and the second advanced course has seven self-paced courses inside.

Even though the course is self-paced, keep in mind that the quizzes and assignments are timed and you must score an 80% or higher in order to pass.

Some things you will learn:

  • Learn all of the basics of copy editing
  • Learn to use more advanced levels of critical thinking skills
  • Improve your skills beyond the basics of grammar and editing to learn how to direct a piece
  • Learn how to find correct and factual work
  • Attend seminars to connect with other people who can help you learn

#2 – UC San Diego

The copy editing program from UC San Diego can be completed within 12 months. Since this is a well-known university, it can help give you a reputable certification to put on your resume.

Keep in mind, this is not a self-study program and you will need to keep up on your weekly assignments. You do not need any past experience to excel in this program.

According to their information about the course, students spend about three hours online and six hours offline to work on this course. That can help you figure out if this is a certification you have time to fit in your schedule or not.

Some things you will learn:

  • How to fact-check
  • Developing a relationship with writers
  • How to understand style sheets
  • What to know when it comes to legal considerations
  • How to succeed as a copyeditor
  • The basics of grammar, web copy, and elements of a manuscript

#3 – The Publishing Training Centre

This copy editing course from The Publishing Training Centre is a self-paced course that you can do from anywhere.

Keep in mind, it is a UK-based course so it will be taught with their spelling and grammar rules, but it is a faster, cheaper option than some of the other university courses out there.

Some things you will learn:

  • The entire copy editing process
  • How to stand out as a professional copy editor
  • Make sure your documents are ready to be published
  • How to work on-screen and on paper
  • Manage complex projects
  • How to brief an illustrator and editor

#4 – Editing Mastery: How To Edit Writing To Perfection

The Editing Mastery: How To Edit Writing To Perfection course is from Shani Raja, who has worked as an editor at major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.

His course is currently hosted on Udemy and is a fantastic option for a crash-course to get you started. At the end of completing the course, you will receive a certificate of completion.

Some things you will learn in this course:

  • How to edit any kind of writing
  • How to not only edit a piece but improve the content, structure, and style of any piece
  • Learn directly from someone who has real-world experience as a copy editor
  • How to edit your own writing
  • How to stand out in a competitive field

What To Do Next

Want to be a freelance writer but not sure which path is right for you?

Our writing career quiz can help show you all the different paths and help you find a right one based on your individual interests and experiences.

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