Upgrading to Professional Membership

Page owner: Professional development director

When you are considering an application to upgrade, think about the length of time you have been working in copy editing and proofreading. You may not be ready to upgrade immediately after training; it usually takes around 18 months to 2 years of practice before competence is achieved. If you have worked full time in proofreading and/or copy-editing for the past 5 years, there is probably no need to go back further than that in detail. If your work history is patchy or less conventional, it might help your application if you can go back further or you are able to include more history.

Please note: If you apply to join as a Professional Member, you must submit the evidence to support your application within one month of joining. If no upgrade form has been received within this time, we will enrol you as an Entry-Level Member (ELM); but of course you can upgrade at any time once you have joined as an ELM.

Key requirements

The key requirements for Professional Membership are:


The total number of points you need is 25. The final 5 points may be made up from any of the above categories.


You do not need to upgrade to Intermediate Membership before applying for Professional Membership.

If you are already an Intermediate Member, the points you already earned can be carried forward to your application for Professional Membership.

Information we need

The Admissions Panel would like as much information as possible about your editorial background so that they can make an informed judgement about your eligibility. Please include everything that is or could be relevant.

To make the process as fair and equitable as possible, the Panel uses a points system to assess eligibility for the different membership grades. There are many possible ways in which you might satisfy the criteria.

Please note that we focus on copy-editing and proofreading – the core editorial skills – as outlined in the SfEP Code of practice and the editorial syllabus.

Related editorial skills, such as project management and development editing, will be considered if you can also evidence training and experience in the core skills. Note, however, that other publishing skills that are less closely related to editorial work – such as indexing, typesetting, design, marketing, copy writing, translating, and so forth – are not included in our criteria.

You will find it helpful to get together all the details (names, dates, hours, type of work) on your background before you start to complete the online form. If you have paper certificates from your training courses, mentoring or conference attendance, we will need you to scan the documents and supply them electronically with your application form. Please do not redact your name; the office needs to see the completed certificate.

A note on detail

If you do not provide sufficient detail in your application, the Admissions Panel will not be able to assess your experience fairly and your application will fail. Saying ‘Years of experience for a large number of clients’ is not sufficient.

The Panel allocates experience points on the basis of hours worked, so for freelance work please provide the number of hours spent on each job, rather than its overall duration e.g. '52 hours', rather than '2 weeks', or '5.5 hours' rather than '1 day'. The Panel applies a formula for full-time working in-house to produce the hours figure.

As a professional editor, you will have been maintaining detailed records (for HMRC purposes, for example) of your clients and the hours you have worked. The Panel needs to see this level of detail to assess your application fairly.