How to Make Money Proofreading: The Ultimate Guide

Proofreading can offer decent money if you have an eye for detail. Learn the skills needed to turn proofreading into a profitable career or side gig.

A person in old times reviewing a document
Updated May 13, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

You can make money proofreading by offering your services as a full-time employee or a freelancer on platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr. The demand for proofreading services is growing as the continuous rise of digital content increases the amount of written material that needs to be reviewed and corrected.

Proofreading requires an eye for detail, knowledge of grammar and punctuation, and an ability to spot errors in written material. Let’s explore how to establish these skills, how to make money proofreading, and how much you can make.

In this guide to make money proofreading

Proofreading: Is it worth it?

Pros Cons
  • Offers opportunities to make decent money
  • Doesn’t necessarily require a lot of formal training
  • Can be done remotely from almost anywhere
  • Can be a good business or side hustle opportunity
  • Has a variety of niches
  • Requires attention to detail and solid grasp of the English language
  • Can become repetitive
  • May be a competitive field depending on your niche
Verdict: Proofreading can be a great way to make money if you have an eye for detail and a passion for language. It offers the flexibility of working from home and a relatively low barrier to entry. However, it won’t work as a career or side hustle for everyone since it can be tedious and time-consuming and requires a high focus.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is checking over a written piece of work for any errors. This includes typos or formatting, punctuation, and grammatical errors. In some cases, the proofreader is the final stop for a written piece before it’s published.

When we talk about a written piece, it can mean anything from an article to an email to a social media post. There’s a lot of variety in writing, meaning a proofreader often works on different tasks.

But the essential task for proofreaders across all written mediums is making sure there aren’t any errors. This often requires some writing experience and an eye for detail. Skills you can learn during school, in a similar job, or through your own studies.

Since you can proofread part time, a proofreading position can make for one of many popular weekend side jobs. You may also choose to proofread full time by getting a day job or freelancing for a number of clients.

Proofreading vs. copyediting

Proofreading and copyediting are similar, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. The primary difference between the two is that proofreading is often the final step in the editing process. And if proofreading isn’t the final step, it’s typically still after the copyediting step.

Proofreading Copyediting
  • Finding and correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors
  • Done after copyediting and before publishing
  • Often done by the author, editor, or a professional proofreader
  • Improving the overall quality and clarity of the text, checking for grammar, spelling, clarity, style, and structure
  • Done before proofreading as an in-depth check
  • Often done by a professional copy editor or an experienced editor

Here’s an example of how a publishing or marketing company may implement its editing process:

  1. Structural and developmental editing: Fixing the overall structure and flow.
  2. Line editing: Fixing the style and tone of a piece.
  3. Copyediting: Fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  4. Proofreading: Fixing any final issues before publication.

Possible callout box: Note that this isn’t a formal structure you need to follow as a writer, copyeditor, or proofreader. Every stage may overlap with other stages.

How to make money proofreading

Proofreading is one way to learn how to make money as a side hustle or potentially as a career. You may start proofreading on a part-time basis, and it turns into a full-time venture. Let’s explore how to get started.

1. Have the right skills

There are several ways to acquire the skills necessary for proofreading. You don’t have to start as a fantastic writer or editor to become a proofreader. But you’ll need to learn some applicable skills to get more proofreading opportunities.

For example, you typically need to know how to make something easily readable, which requires good attention to detail. You should also have a solid grasp of grammar and punctuation and an ability to be objective. You can learn these general proofreading skills at certain jobs, in school, or on your own.

Keep in mind that some in-office and online proofreading jobs may require a bachelor’s degree. But many proofreading positions won’t require a more advanced degree, such as a graduate degree or master’s degree.

2. Acquire additional qualifications

It’s time to move on to actual training if you already have the base skills to be a proofreader. To polish your proofreading skills, you can learn the ins and outs of writing and editing guidelines.

Several guidelines out there are commonly used, including:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook (AP style)
  • The Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • The American Psychological Association (APA)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style

In addition to writing and editing guidelines, you can acquire additional qualifications from online proofreading courses that can teach you more about proofreading and enhance your skills.

Many of these courses are free, enabling you to see if this path is worth pursuing without spending money. You can find these educational courses on sites such as:

  • Coursera
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Skillshare

3. Choose your proofreading rate

The average proofreader pay in the U.S. is around $22 to $24 per hour. However, you may want to start at a lower rate if you’re just getting started. As you gain more years of experience and add qualifications to your resume, you can increase your hourly rate.

You can also increase your pay by focusing on a niche. Some proofreading niches include:

  • Legal transcripts
  • Marketing materials
  • Translations
  • Print media
  • Academic dissertations

These niches can be further broken down into more categories. The idea is that you can find an area where your skills may be in high demand by focusing on specific fields. This can be more fun if it’s an area of personal interest, such as a hobby or passion.

4. Find your first job

Now it’s time to look for work. Where to look for proofreading work depends on the type of work you want.

  • Full-time proofreading positions: Most online job sites and boards can help with your search. Check out LinkedIn, Remote.co, FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Monster, and other websites to explore job listings for proofreading jobs.
  • Freelance proofreading jobs: Look for freelance gigs on Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. Online job sites also post freelance tasks that can enable you to proofread anywhere.

Remember that not all companies list their open positions on job boards. That’s why you should also check the career pages of companies you’re interested in to see if they have any relevant positions available.

Some companies may even become interested in hiring you after learning about the services you can offer. That’s why networking can be essential to finding work as a proofreader. Use your networking skills through friends, family, and previous employers and coworkers to discover potential opportunities.

You can also check for online proofreading positions on sites that offer proofreading services, such as Scribendi or Proofreading.org.


Join AARP and double your number of interviews within 60 days

Finding a new job is difficult. But join AARP today, and you’ll get access to skill-building courses, a free resume review, and AARP’s exclusive job board to help you stand out in the competitive job market.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today.”
  • Create your account by answering a few simple questions.
  • Start using AARP’s job search tools!

An AARP membership unlocks resources that could help you land the perfect role. Plus, you’ll get access to tools like The AARP Resume Advisor to supercharge your resume, cover letter, and even your LinkedIn profile.

AARP claims they can help double your number of interviews within 60 days, or they'll rewrite your resume for free.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become a member now and supercharge your job search


How much money can I make proofreading?

The amount of money you can make proofreading varies widely depending on several factors, such as your proofreading experience, the type of material you're proofreading, and the market you're working in.

Like most jobs, you can expect to make more money as you gain more experience. But realize that certain industries or companies may simply pay higher wages than others. For example, you may make more money at a tech company than at a university.

Hourly Yearly
Beginner’s pay Around $14 Around $29,000
Nationwide average pay From $22 to $24 From $45,000 to $50,000
Pay range From $14 to $44 From $29,000 to $91,500

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that beginner proofreaders make around $14 an hour or $29,000 a year, on average.

Indeed.com shows an experienced proofreader can make, on average, around $22 per hour.


ZipRecruiter shows a slightly higher pay rate for people who run a freelance proofreading business.


Making $22 to $24 per hour at a full-time rate of 40 hours a week equals about $52,000 per year. Depending on your actual pay rate and how much you work, you can earn $21,000 to $87,000 per year. This range may also be higher or lower, depending on your exact situation.

Proofreading can provide additional income as a dedicated career path or a focused side hustle. For more options, check out our list of the best side hustles.

Essential tools for proofreaders

What would a builder be without their tools? The same thought applies to proofreaders. The following resources can make your work as a proofreader a lot easier.

Google Docs

Google Docs is designed with writers in mind. You can easily add comments and use the editing mode to make changes visible to everyone with access to the document. You can also view past versions of the document to see what changes have already been made or to revert to a previous version.

Grammarly

Grammar can be a strange beast to tame because so much of what we say out loud can be grammatically incorrect. Grammar rules themselves can simply be confusing.

Grammarly is a valuable tool for getting quick suggestions on what you can change to help make the written piece you proofread more readable and correct. However, keep in mind that Grammarly is only a tool, not the universal law of the written language.

That’s important to understand because sometimes you may disagree with what Grammarly suggests. And you can very well be right, especially if a piece has a different style than what Grammarly suggests.

AP Stylebook

Professional writing often follows style guides to enable people to have a consensus on which type of writing is correct. The AP Stylebook is one of these style guides, and it provides rules and guidelines for all kinds of words and phrases, making it a helpful resource for proofreaders using AP Style.

ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is similar to Grammarly in that it’s an app that offers users suggestions to help improve their writing. A proofreader may find this tool helpful to find areas in different writing pieces that can use some slight adjustments or changes.

Hemingway App

Being clear and concise is a goal many writers aim to achieve with their writing. You can use the Hemingway App to get a readability score for written materials. Proofreaders can also benefit from the Hemingway App, especially if the app wasn’t used in the editing process.

Proofreading FAQs

Is proofreading easy?

The ease of proofreading increases as you gain more experience and grow your skillset. Previous knowledge in editing or writing positions also helps. That being said, proofreading can be challenging if you easily get distracted or don’t have a firm grasp of the written language. And like any skill, proofreading typically requires time and effort to master.

Are proofreaders in demand?

The demand for proofreaders is growing, according to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS data shows 10,500 proofreaders were hired in 2021. However, the projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031 is slower than average at 2%.

How much do beginner proofreaders make?

Beginner proofreaders make, on average, $14 per hour or about $29,000 per year. However, the average pay for proofreaders, in general, falls in a range between $22 and $24 per hour or around $45,000 to $50,000 per year. Remember that per-hour wage and salary depend on the number of hours you work, the company you work for, and the experience you have.

How can I learn proofreading for free?

The internet is often an excellent resource for learning things for free, including proofreading. There are many articles and online courses available that you can access for free to see if proofreading feels like the right type of work for you. Check out our list of the best sites for free online education to get started.

Other side hustles to consider

Earn Up to $75/Hour Working From Home

Free 3-class intro teaches you how to launch a bookkeeping business — avg. hourly rate for this skill is $75/hour.

Access the training
Earn Money Online by Taking Surveys

Get your share of $55,000 paid out daily to Survey Junkie users.

Sign up for free
Find Paying Caregiver Jobs in Your Area

Connect with families looking for child care, pet care, housekeeping, and more.

Join today

Don’t worry if proofreading doesn’t seem right for you. There are plenty of ways to make extra money online in your spare time.

Become a virtual assistant

As a virtual assistant (VA), you can remotely provide administrative, technical, or creative assistance to your clients. You can help with tasks such as scheduling appointments, answering emails, making travel arrangements, engaging with social media, researching, and more. You can work independently and communicate with clients via phone, email, messaging, and other online tools.

Becoming a VA is a remote job that can offer flexibility with your work schedule, location, and the type of work you do. The key to being a VA is being organized, having good time management, employing good communication skills, and topping it all with multitasking.

Get more information about how to become a virtual assistant.

Offer services on Thumbtack

Thumbtack is an online service that connects professionals with customers that need their services. Writers, translators, personal trainers, tutors, and many other professionals can list what they offer on the platform, helping them find work or grow their existing business. Professionals can also receive notifications when new job leads become available in their area, so they can quickly respond to potential clients.

Users can search for professionals based on the type of service they need, their location, and the date and time they need the service.

Explore how it works in our Thumbtack review.

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.