What Is a Copy-Editing Certificate and Why Is It Beneficial?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 18, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to become a professional copyeditor, having a certificate may help improve your editing profile. The certificate can also teach you the skills and knowledge you may need in the role. Learning more about the courses you can take can help you choose one that suits your needs and learning style. In this article, we explain what a copy editing certificate is, discuss why getting one can be beneficial, and tell you about ten courses you can pursue to develop your copy-editing skills.

What is a copy-editing certificate?

A copy-editing certificate shows employers that candidates have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful copy editors. This certification also ensures copy editors are up-to-date with industry standards. Copy-editing programs also help students develop and improve skills like analytical skills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills.

Related: Copy Editing vs. Proofreading: Definitions, Skills, and Duties

Why is getting a copy-editing certificate beneficial?

There are plenty of benefits of receiving copy-editing certification, such as the following:

  • Provides access to more jobs: Although not all employers require applicants to have copy-editing certification, it can improve your chances of getting a job and you may even be able to negotiate a higher salary. It shows employers you have the knowledge and experience you need as a copy editor, helping set you apart from other applicants.

  • Helps develop relevant skills: The main goal of most copy-editing programs is to help students develop the skills they need to be successful. This includes skills like analytical skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills.

  • Helps you start an editing business: If you don't work for a publishing company or agency, it can be hard to get editing clients without a certificate. You can use your certification to attract your own clients and become a freelance copy editor.

Related: What Does an Editor Do? (With Responsibilities and Duties)

7 copy editing certificates to choose from

Here are seven copy editing certificates you can obtain:

1. Queen's University

Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario offers a Professional Editing Standards Certificate. The curriculum consists of the following five online courses:

  • Copyediting standards

  • Copyediting standards 2

  • Fundamentals of editing standards

  • Proofreading standards

  • Structural editing standards

Each course is $375 and takes 100 hours to complete, which you can do within two months. You must complete all five to obtain a certificate, but you can also take courses individually if you just want to enhance your knowledge of a specific subject. Queen's University recommends this copy editing course to people with intermediate to advanced editing experience.

2. Editors Canada

Editors Canada is a national association that provides professional certification to expert editors who work in English. The association offers the following five credentials that you can receive if you pass the accompanying exams:

  • Certified proofreader (proofreading exam)

  • Certified copy editor (copy editing exam)

  • Certified stylistic editor (stylistic editing exam)

  • Certified structural editor (structural editing exam)

  • Certified professional editor (proofreading, copy editing, stylistic editing, and structural editing exams)

There are no prerequisites for taking an exam, but Editors Canada recommends you have at least five years of editing experience to improve your chances of passing. As it costs $450 for members and $550 for non-members to take an exam, preparing beforehand is important. You can take the exam on specific dates in person or online. If you pass the exam and receive certification, you must maintain it by paying an annual fee and earning 100 professional development points every five years. You can do this through continued education, volunteering, or working.

Related: How to Be an Editor (With Steps and FAQs)

3. Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University offers an editing certificate you can obtain completely online. The program teaches you about editorial roles, the publishing process, and the four types of editing: structural, stylistic, copy editing, and proofreading. It includes ten electives that you can complete within two years. You have a total of five years to complete all the courses if you want to study part time instead.

To apply, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Without a high school diploma, you can still apply with five years of relevant experience. If you're not a native English speaker, you need a minimum IELTS score of 6.5.

4. Goerge Brown College

George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario offers an editorial skills certification program. It teaches you about structural, production, and stylistic editing, copy editing, and proofreading, The program helps prepare students for editing careers in various industries, such as newspapers, magazines, books, corporate newsletters, and online publications. It consists of seven core courses and one elective course with a 45-hour editorial placement to give you hands-on work experience in the industry. The courses are online and take 24 to 42 hours to complete. You can take courses individually, but you need all eight to obtain a certificate.

5. Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta offers a professional editing extension certificate. This is an online program that teaches students about the standards, skills, and tools copy editors need. It also teaches students about grammar, how to use house style guides, and how to create citations. The program consists of six required courses you must complete within three years. Each course takes an estimated 15 to 20 hours to complete.

6. University of Ottawa

Although the University of Ottawa in Ontario doesn't offer a complete editing program, it has three editing courses you can take or choose from to improve your knowledge and skills. Here's an explanation of each one to help you choose:

  • Advanced Editing Skills: This course is for experienced editors who want to advance their skills and knowledge. It discusses topics like the publication process, editing numbers, citations, understanding copyright, and building style guides.

  • Editing Skills for the Workplace: This course isn't necessarily targeted at editors, but people whose work involves some editing. For example, administrative assistants, marketing specialists, or teachers may need to develop their editing skills to improve their work.

  • Proofreading – The Final Step in Editing: This course teaches students how to proofread their work to ensure it has little to no errors before publication. It covers topics like how to read as a proofreader, what proofreading marks to use, and cold proofreading.

7. Algonquin College

Another school that offers individual editing courses is Algonquin College. Choose between Editing I or Editing II to advance your editing skills. They're both online courses that teach you about copyediting, grammar, style, and readability. They take three months to complete.

Related: How to Become a Chief Editor

Frequently asked questions about copy editing

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about copy editing:

What's the difference between copy editing and proofreading?

Copy editing and proofreading are two different types of editing. Copy editors focus on spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. They may also perform basic fact-checking and ensure the text follows a specific style guide. Once the copy editing stage is complete, proofreading occurs. Proofreading is typically the final stage of editing, so proofreaders focus on typos, misplaced punctuation, and layout issues.

What are style guides?

A style guide outlines set standards for writing and citations. It tells writers how to format and design their documents for consistency. Editors may choose a style guide to adhere to or ask their clients for their preferences. Here are some common style guides:

  • AP Style

  • Chicago Style

  • APA style

  • MLA Style

  • AMA style

Where do copy editors work?

Copy editors can work with a variety of companies, such as book publishers, newspapers, or magazines. Many copy editors choose to freelance instead. This means they advertise their services to find their own clients.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles