Writing and Editing: A Guide to Work From Home Careers

Day after day, the idea of working from home continues to rise in the American consciousness. The Covid-19 pandemic saw people working from home that typically worked exclusively in an office. 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 you could do from home, but with the need for social media marketing, proofreading, and copywriting constantly growing in our tech-centric world, the demand for capable self-starters with writing and editing experience is on the rise.

While the pursuits and passions of creatives with a knack for the English language have always been flexible, 2021 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 2021.

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 scientific and mathematical understanding necessary for many technical writing positions requires applicants to have a bachelor of science (BS).

Sample Program: Arizona State University, BS in technical communications
Arizona State University’s online 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 (May 2020), technical writers made an average salary of $78,590. The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH 2021) notes that the number of available jobs in this field will grow by 7 percent between 2019 and 2029, adding 4,300 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 often the last set of eyes to see copy before it is published. 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 BLS (May 2020) the average wage of an experienced proofreader (editor) at $73,910. Unfortunately, there is an expected 7 percent decrease in job openings for editors between 2019 and 2029 (BLS 2021).

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 computers.

Education Requirements
Many vocational colleges and technical universities offer one-year certificates 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 $37,310 (BLS May 2020). 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 skillset. Education programs 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. Search engine optimization (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 SEO follow techniques to ensure that when terms are searched, there are multiple matches in the text of the web page that 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 a few weeks. It also offers a range of study and reference materials.

Salary & Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) lists the number of market and research analysts (related to SEO specialists) at 738,100. The field is expected to expand by 18 percent between 2019 and 2029, adding as many as 133,300 new jobs. They make an average annual salary of $73,970 (BLS May 2020).

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 Copy Editor

Copy editors 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. Copy editors 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 (BLS May 2020) lists the mean wage of editors at $73,910. It’s important to note, however, that there is an expected 7 percent decline in expected openings in the decade preceding 2029 (BLS 2021).

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, in large part due to the Covid-19. In fact, while BLS data shows that there are more people working in person now than at the start of the pandemic, working from home has become ubiquitous and continues to gain traction.

Job boards and sites that collate job postings confirm this. A number of websites 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
Writer

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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