KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

How to Become a Medical Editor

There is no single official way to become a medical editor, but fellow editors frequently ask how to get into this niche. I wrote a post on the topic last May for The Editors' Weekly, the blog of Editors Canada/Réviseurs Canada, that outlines the steps I recommend. It is reprinted below.

Medical editingAs a medical editor, I think I have the best job in the world. While I’m getting paid to edit medical manuscripts, I get to keep up with the latest research findings and treatment practices. There is a lot of this kind of work if you know where to look. Although there is no single way to become a medical editor, I have suggestions for you.

This was my path to becoming a medical editor: I earned a degree in journalism, worked as a newspaper reporter and ended up on the medical beat, moved into general publishing as a production editor, became a production editor for a medical publisher, started freelancing and then took an exam to obtain board certification as an editor in the life sciences. Journalism and publishing have both changed so much in the last few years, however, that you’ll have to take another path. It won’t be quick, but starting a new career or moving into a new niche never is.

Try all of these things, but not all at once:
  • Read medical journals frequently to get familiar with the language and style and to assess how well their editors follow the style manual that you’re studying.
  • Join AMWA to
    • Take advantage of lower prices for courses and annual meetings,
    • Have access via email discussion lists to colleagues willing to answer questions,
    • Have access to current issues of the AMWA Journal.
  • Consider freelancing initially for science and medical packagers (intermediaries) and editing services. The pay will be low, but you will learn a lot and can move on to better-paying clients. I periodically update a PDF with links to these organizations.
  • Contact medical publishers and journals about editing for them. You’ll be required to take an unpaid editing test.
I know that some of the advice I’ve provided here is U.S.-centric. Do you have additional Canadian resources to provide? Please share links to them in the comments, and I’ll gladly share them in other venues.

Note: Some links in this post were updated on January 25, 2019. Reprinted here with the permission of The Editors’ Weekly and Editors Canada.

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