FAQs: Upgrades

Click any of the frequently asked questions below to see the corresponding answer.

I have been proofreading for one client, and they are very happy with the work I do. Can I upgrade to Professional Membership of the SfEP?

To upgrade to Professional Membership of the SfEP, you need to demonstrate your understanding of good editorial practice as well as work experience. You can do this by providing evidence of training in the core skills of proofreading and/or copy-editing, as outlined in the editorial syllabus. There is a minimum amount of work that must be done for any one client before it can be counted. If your work has been for 'non-publishers' this can be counted, as long as you have achieved a pass in our basic editorial test. Full information about the requirements for Professional Membership are given in Upgrading to Professional Membership.

I have a lot of experience of working for friends/local businesses/academics, and they are very happy with my work, but I have no formal editorial training. Can I upgrade my membership?

Your work for non-publishers can be counted but we cannot rely on them to have the knowledge and/or sklls to enable them to judge your editorial competence; you can show that you have these skills by passing our editorial test. You will also need to show sufficient evidence of training in the core skills of proofreading and/or copy-editing, as outlined in the editorial syllabus.

Most of my work is for companies. It can include print, presentation materials and online material/websites. Will I be able to become a Professional Member?

Yes, most likely. Editorial work on a range of written materials is acceptable, although you may need a pass in the editorial test to support it, depending on your referee(s). You will also need to make sure that you have the minimum training requirements for the grade.

Editing is only a part of what I do (I'm a translator/indexer/designer/typesetter/other). How can my experience be taken into account?

When you fill in the part of the form that covers experience, you will be asked to specify what proportion of your time you spend on proofreading/copy-editing (the core skills), and to explain what other editorial functions you carry out. This information will enable the Admissions Panel to be sure that you have enough experience in the core areas they are looking for. If you are unsure what these skills are, look at the editorial syllabus.

Why is there such an emphasis on academic proofreading in the editorial test syllabus?

We understand that many members and prospective members work in areas other than academic publishing, such as trade or educational publishing, and many also work for non-publishers. We also know that many specialise in copy-editing or other editorial tasks, rather than proofreading. However, academic work tends to cover the broadest range of skills that a copy-editor or proofreader might need and so is most useful for the purposes of testing your skills. All members, whatever they specialise in, should be able to proofread.

I have worked in-house as an editor for more than ten years, and I don't want to pay for basic editorial training. What options do I have for upgrading?

If you have 4–5 years of in-house editorial experience, 8–10 years for Advanced Professional, but have no formal training, you can nevertheless show us that you have reached the required standard in the core skills, as defined in our editorial syllabus, by taking the online basic editorial test; this combination will satisfy the requirement for basic training in the two core skills of copy-editing and proofreading. For Advanced Professional Membership, you will also need to provide evidence of continuing professional development in the 3 years before your application. An advanced editorial test is being developed.

Can I use mentoring to count for experience when I apply to upgrade?

Mentoring may count for experience only if you became a mentee before 1 February 2015. After 1 February 2015, mentoring is counted separately from training and experience and you will need to meet the minimum criteria in these areas.

How will my application be assessed?

The information you have entered into the electronic form will be output to the SfEP office. Any information that could be used to identify you is removed and the application is then supplied to the Admissions Panel to be assessed. The office will also handle the process of contacting any referees for whom you have supplied details. References will be passed to the Admissions Panel once they have been anonymised.

How long will the process take?

The Admissions Panel works as quickly as possible. All Panel members are Advanced Professional Members with freelance businesses of their own. Each upgrade application is assessed individually, so if you have provided full details in a neat and orderly fashion, processing your application is likely to take a shorter time than if we need to ask you to clarify parts of your form or we need more information than you have provided. Sometimes, there can be a delay while we wait for your referees to respond. The longest you should wait is 6–8 weeks. If you have not heard anything within 8 weeks, please contact us.

What kind of experience do I need to upgrade to Intermediate Membership?

For Intermediate grade, we expect to see a minimum of 100 hours of experience. This may be paid or pro bono work and may be for publisher or non-publisher clients.

How many years of experience do I need for Professional/Advanced Professional Membership?

For Professional grade, we expect a minimum of 500 hours of experience. As a guide, we suggest that this equates to around 4–5 years of in-house editorial experience (i.e. as an employee in the editorial department of a publisher). For Advanced Professional Membership, the minimum is 1500 hours or around 8–10 years of in-house experience. These are not fixed rules, however; much will depend on your training background and the amount of copy-editing and/or proofreading you do.

Does writing experience count?

No. Of course, we know that professional writers have to do considerable editing of their own work, and will often be involved in seeing it through to publication. These, though, are quite different skills from the core skills of copy-editing and proofreading, carried out for other clients, that the SfEP looks for.

Does journalism training count?

Again, this is quite a different skill and may not be counted. However, some aspects of journalism training may overlap with editorial training and may count as part of an application; it will depend on their context within the application as a whole. Check the editorial syllabus - this will tell you whether your skills match those we are seeking.

What if I don't have all the details/certificates for past training?

You should try to provide as much documentary evidence as you can to support your application. The online form will allow you to attach various documents where necessary. However, if a course was so long ago that you don't still have the certificate, please try to provide as much other information as you can, so that the Admissions Panel can be satisfied that you took the course. Some providers may be able to issue a duplicate certificate.

Can I include details of training/mentoring that is not yet complete?

No. We ask you to include details of training and/or experience that you have actually completed. Any that is incomplete cannot be counted. If you submit an application that relies on training that has yet to be completed, it will be rejected.

What is the point of training to work with BS5261 proofreading marks? None of my clients want me to use them.

It is true that many clients, especially non-publishers, do not use this system of mark-up for proofreading. However, BS5261 is an internationally recognised 'language of proofreading' and working knowledge of it is therefore one of the core competencies that we look for. We find that the technical experience of using and combining the marks, to convey maximal information in often minimal space, is invaluable in learning how to convey the same information in different ways. Sometimes, only the mark will do this.

Is the accreditation test still an option?

The acceditation test has been withdrawn. The final date for applications to sit the test was 30 November 2015.

Can I claim points for things when applying for Advanced Professional grade, if I have already claimed them at Professional?

Yes. There is no suggestion of 'using up' points: that would mean that someone upgrading first to Intermediate, then to Professional and later to Advanced Professional would need more points overall than someone upgrading directly to Advanced Professional.