What is the CIEP, and Should You Join It?
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), formerly known as the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, is an association that provides training, support, and networking opportunities to editorial professionals on the freelance journey. While it’s based in the UK, membership is available to editors and proofreaders worldwide.
Being one of many editing associations out there, what makes the CIEP a worthy choice for freelance editors? Is it the right organization for every editor or proofreader? Let’s go through some important features of a CIEP membership and find some answers to these questions.
The prestige of the CIEP’s tiered membership
Firstly, the CIEP stands out from other organizations because of its tiered membership system. There are four grades that each correspond with different levels of training and experience:
- Entry-Level Membership — brand new proofreaders and editors;
- Intermediate Membership — minimum 100 hours of experience;
- Professional Membership — minimum 500 hours of experience;
- Advanced Professional Membership — minimum 1,500 hours of experience.
These numbers are just one aspect of the requirements — you’ll also have to provide proof in professional training, client references, and evidence of special skills depending on the level you apply for.
Naturally, the higher the tier of your membership, the more benefits you get to enjoy. Aa a Professional member, you get access to more resources, particularly genre-based ones, and you also become a voting member of the institution. This means that you can contribute to its maintenance and programs.
One of the biggest boons, however, is the prestige of a high tier. It is a strong credential to have, being a Professional or Advanced Professional member of the CIEP, because of the vetting process, and because of your involvement with the institution. In other words, just by stating your high-tier membership, you’re beginning to build potential clients’ will trust.
Membership fee differences
Other than the work experience required, with more benefits, there also comes higher costs. As of December 2021, the membership fees for the CIEP are:
- £119 per year for Entry-Level and Intermediate Membership;
- £179 per year for Professional and Advanced Membership.
Without a membership, you still can get access to limited resources like the curriculum for professional development (which includes useful course recommendations), the institute’s blog, and the free “Editorial Excellence” newsletter. But the course discounts, newsletters, and marketing opportunities — those are only available to paying members.
Training and development at all levels
The CIEP is known for many of its courses, but particularly well-known are the beginners’ courses in proofreading and copy editing. These are divided into stages meaning they’re suitable for those with and without any experience. These are great preparations if you want to become a proofreader or a copy editor — and there’s also a mentorship program available after you complete the training.
Of course, there are plenty of similar editing courses and certification programs out there for you to sign up to — what sets the CIEP apart is its more advanced courses aimed at professional development. Rather than just building your editorial skills, these soft skill courses are also about client communication and project management. These can benefit more than just newcomers to industry.
All courses are available online and some can be taught in face-to-face workshops. Wherever you are, there are flexible choices to help you learn about every aspect of being a freelance editor or proofreader.
With a membership discount, you get roughly 40% off every course. In other words, if you plan to take several of the CIEP's courses, joining the institution might be a good call.
Forums online and offline
Just as the CIEP training courses are available in different formats, the institution’s networking spaces are also available both on and offline.
Online forums, some of which are only accessible to Professional members, can also be highly useful. Here, editors can meet to ask questions about their craft or about situations at work where they are unsure what the best course of action is. Other professionals can offer their perspective and help one another out.
The CIEP also has local groups (some are even based outside of the UK!) that do their own meetings, so you can tag along to one if you live nearby. Through online Q&A sessions and offline meetings, you can build connections with fellow editors who can help and support you in the future or refer jobs they can’t take on to you, and vice versa.
Free alternatives to CIEP forums
While this kind of support network is useful to have, you don’t necessarily have to be a member of an editor association in order to find it. Nowadays, a lot of editing professionals are on social media.
Twitter, for example, houses a very diverse network of editors who are always open to discussions. You can start by following publishing experts like Sam Missingham or Crystal Shelley to get a sense of what kinds of conversations often happen on editing Twitter.
For a more private approach, there are many editorial Facebook groups you can join. With social media platforms you can meet a lot of fellow editors and proofreaders without spending a penny.
So if you’re thinking about joining the CIEP solely for the community aspect, it is recommended that you try out these free options first before you splurge on a membership.
Directory to promote Professional members
Getting new clients is always an important part of being a freelance editor or proofreader. If you qualify for Professional Membership, you get the chance to advertise your service on the CIEP directory. This is a way to increase awareness for your editing business.
Keep in mind, however, that this might not actually lead to gigs — clients who need editing service in your genre might not browse these pages. If they do, they might find other professionals who they feel suit their voice and vision more.
Free alternatives to the CIEP directory
Luckily, there are more flexible alternatives that require you to jump through fewer hoops. A curated marketplace like Reedsy, for instance, allows authors to search by genre and service so that they can easily find the right editor for their project.
Because of this convenient set up, authors are more likely to use a curated marketplace, which means that you’re more likely to find new editing jobs via places like this. (It’s also free for you to join Reedsy and receive requests from authors, so why not give it a go?)
Verdict: Is the CIEP for you?
Given the main features of a CIEP membership covered above, should you pay for CIEP membership?
This depends on your goal. If you want to enjoy their courses at a lower price, find new editors and proofreaders to talk to, learn from, and share your experience with without having to maintain a social media account, then this is the place for you. It is also a nice opportunity to contribute to an established organisation as a veteran editor.
If you’re not necessarily searching for these new connections and you’re hoping to find new freelance gigs, this might not be the most effective use of your resources. CIEP membership will give you some good credentials, but at the end of the day, it is more of a community than it is a job hub.
We hope this has given you an overview about the Chartered Institute for Editors and Proofreaders. If you’re interested in another similar organisation based in the US, check out our article on the Editorial Freelancers Association.
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