Writing and Editing: A Guide to Telecommuting Jobs

Day after day, the idea of working from home continues to rise in the American consciousness. Companies are getting used to the idea that a work from home (WFH) revolution is taking place, that people want more control over their personal schedules, code of dress, and work hours. Careers in writing and editing have historically been ones which you could do from home, but with the need for social media marketing, proofreading, and copywriting growing constantly in our tech-centric world, a lack of capable self-starters with composition and editing experience is being noticed by experts everywhere.

While the pursuits and passions of creatives with a knack for the English language has always been flexible, 2019 offers more resources than ever before for telecommuting writers and editors looking to exert more control over the conditions of their earnings. In the current job market, digital copy marketing positions in media, apps, and publication demand a steady flow of top-notch content from writing creatives of all groups. If you have a strong background in composition and can take constructive criticism, then a telecommuting career in writing and editing might be a perfect fit.

Here are five careers for writers and editors that are looking to work remotely in 2019.

Become a Technical Writer

Technical writers are experts in media and communications that typically do one of two things: draft highly-complicated copy for technical documents on policy or manual use or translate highly-complicated ideas from science and engineering into language that the lay reader can understand. Technical writers prepare how-to guides for consumer electronics; write copy for proposals; and draft detailed instruction manuals for consumer electronics and any other supporting or regulatory documents needed.

Education Requirements

Becoming a technical writer usually means having an educational background in professional communications. While having a BA in English or writing might be helpful, the level of scientific and mathematical understanding necessary for many technical writing positions seek applicants with a bachelor of science (BS).

Sample Program: Arizona State University, BS in technical communications

Arizona State University’s BS program in technical communications prepares students for a career in clarifying documentation. Coursework includes principles of visual communication, principles of writing with technology, writing for professional publication, and proposal writing.

Salary & Career Outlook

According to the BLS (2018), technical writers made a median salary of $71,850. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) notes that the number of available jobs in this field will grow by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, adding 5,700 positions to the economy. This is faster than the average growth expected among all occupations during the same period (7 percent).

Gig Spotlight

You can find dozens of remote technical writing positions in a wide variety of STEM and technically-focused fields on boards like MediaBistro.com and FreelanceWriting.com.

Become a Proofreader

Proofreaders are the last set of eyes to see copy before developers are tasked with publishing it. Proofreaders ensure that whatever content comes across their desk leaves it free of errors in spelling, syntax, punctuation, formatting, or typographical inconsistencies. They are also concerned with issues of consistency in a text’s usage of proper nouns and diction. As a proofreader, you are a key component of an editor’s team. Unlike a copy editor, proofreaders do not revise or rewrite copy: they simply identify and correct.

Education Requirements

Proofreaders often have degrees in composition, English language or literature, or creative writing. Additional training and certification for proofreading skills are plentiful online, with many insightful courses available for anyone with a penchant for precision and close reading. Many proofreading skills can be gained from extensive reading done in a standard four-year course of university study.

Sample Programs

You can gain valuable proofreading skills in close reading and grammar editing via the American Copy Editors Society, the Editorial Freelancers Association, and Writer’s Digest. The United Kingdom also offers additional perspectives on active reading via their Society for Editors and Proofreaders and Publishing Training Centre.

Salary & Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median wage of an experienced proofreader at $54,980. Skills like computer proficiency and credentials like a BA or BS in journalism or communications can help strengthen your self-editing and composition skills—two necessary facets of a proofreader’s toolbox.

Gig Spotlight

Any field featuring writing requires editors. And any field with editors requires dedicated proofreaders whose standards of perfection will help them succeed. Think of proofreading as quality assurance of the soon-to-be-finalized manuscript or document. As a proofreader, you might find yourself looking over everything from marketing copy to Instagram posts to streaming service content blurbs. The site FlexJobs.com has a large section dedicated to remote editing opportunities.

Become a Medical Transcriptionist

“Transcriptionist” is an umbrella term referring to professionals who transcribe audio or verbal records into text, in some cases for closed captioning features on video sharing platforms like YouTube and streaming services like Hulu or Netflix. Medical transcription is another avenue to consider, though it requires additional certification as a medical transcriptionist on top of the typically-required bachelor’s degree in composition, communications, or linguistics. Before the WFH revolution, transcriptionists typically only found work in secretarial or court reporting positions, though there are exceptions. Professionals in this field often use transcription software and a foot pedal to pause and play audio files from their computer.

Education Requirements

Many vocational colleges and technical universities offer one-year certificate or two-year associate degrees in medical transcription.

Sample Programs

Certification is optional but highly recommended. Medical transcriptionists who pass the national exam given by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) earn the title Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT). Every three years, CMTs must earn continuing education credits to be re-certified.

Salary & Career Outlook

Medical transcriptionists make a median wage of $34,770 (2018). As professionals in the medical field, many transcriptionists see lateral or upward career movement as a possibility to more senior administrative positions.

Gig Spotlight

This profession is one of the more unique on this list because along with SEO specialists, medical transcriptionists learn a targeted set of skills that prepare students for a career as someone who translates handwriting and shorthand into cleanly-formatted documents for filing and later reference. Becoming a freelance transcriptionist with Rev.com is a great place to begin building your experience base.

Become an SEO Specialist

Whenever you use a search engine to narrow down a field of inquiry, it uses complex algorithmic coding to filter results based on your choice of words. SEO specialists are writers who generate content and digital marketing copy that uses a specific sequence of words or phrases associated with a given topic. Specialized copywriters with a focus on search engine optimization (SEO) follow techniques to ensure that when terms are searched, there are multiple matches in the body text of the web page which will return hits. The more hits, the higher the traffic will be to a client’s page due to its more privileged position in search rankings. It is a branch of digital marketing and sometimes falls under a department of market research analytics at private companies.

Education Requirements

While each company or client might have different requirements for a copywriter with a deep understanding of SEO, the principles of how and why SEO works are true the world over. Certification and licensure as an SEO specialist are still on the rise, but a degree in journalism, business communication, or English composition can provide the necessary foundational skills to tackle the finer points of SEO copy.

Sample Program: SEO Certification, ClickMinded

The fast-paced program at ClickMinded will certify you in a number of editing, proofreading, composition, and persuasive copy skills. The program’s core utilizes lessons based on key SEO concepts and can be completed within weeks if you have the time to dedicate to studying. It also offers a range of study and reference materials.

Salary & Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) lists the number of market and research analysts (related to SEO specialists) at 545,400. The field is expected to expand by 23 percent between 2016 and 2026, adding as many as 138,00 new jobs. They make a median pay of $63,120.

Gig Spotlight:

WebFX.com—a one-stop-shop for clients looking for copywriting, editing, and content solutions—is always looking for talented editors. If you are accepted for an interview you will be tasked with writing a few short pieces to demonstrate your knowledge. They will focus on SEO practice, writing techniques, grammar, and syntax, in addition to testing your research ability.

Become a Copyeditor

Copyeditors are content managers for a company’s publication needs, often supervising the publication schedule, content acquisition, and coordination of efforts to bring information to their audiences. Copyeditors are concerned with writing still in development, turning their eyes to matters of grammar, syntax, structure, voice, tone, clarity, technique, spelling, coherence, logical consistency, imagery, typography, personal writing style, and word choice. In contrast with a proofreader, copyeditors do revise and rewrite (if draft copy requires it).

Education Requirements

For most editor positions, barring those which you might find yourself as an undergraduate at the college paper, a master’s degree is a must. You may be able to find work as an associate editor or editor’s assistant with a bachelor’s degree, though a Google search shows that the vast majority of job postings for senior-level editors require a master’s degree in a related field.

Sample Program: UC San Diego Copyediting Certificate

The University of California, San Diego provides continuing and supplementary education coursework in copyediting. Upon completing the program, UC San Diego certifies graduates as having mastered the core concepts and practices of copyediting. With an incredibly strong curriculum based on an illustrious and productive history of research, UCSD is among the top universities to expand the collective knowledge of its experts outward to a wider base.

Salary & Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median wage of editors at $54,980 and a slight decline in expected openings in the decade preceding 2026.

Gig Spotlight

Jobs boards are rich with companies and clients looking for experienced, efficient editors who are also willing to take on other duties, such as writing and research. As mentioned above, because many editor positions require a master’s degree, the role typically includes a level of professionalism and consistency that requires considerable personal discipline. Sites like Indeed.com and WeWorkRemotely.com are excellent resources with intuitive UIs that make locating and applying for jobs easy.

Find a Remote Job in Writing or Editing

The telecommuting labor community has experienced considerable growth in recent times, with pushes and initiatives engaged in all corners of the professional world. In fact, BLS data shows that there is no sign that this trend will abate. Job boards and sites that collate job postings confirm this. There is a number of websites that maintain ever-updated boards for finding careers and freelance work in writing and editing. These include:

  • ZipRecruiter.com
  • FlexJobs.com
  • Upwork.com
  • Indeed.com
  • FreelanceWritersDen.com
  • Problogger.net
  • MediaBistro.com
  • FreelanceWriting.com
  • WeWorkRemotely.com
  • Remote.co
  • VirtualVocations.com
Kenneth Parker
Kenneth Parker

A graduate of the University of Oregon, Kenneth Parker is sometimes a musician and rarely a poet. His work spans copy editing, feature writing, and dissertation development.

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