Your location and the sector in which you work will significantly affect the income you make as a proofreader. For example, newspaper and book publishers employ several thousand proofreaders, but data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that sector pays proofreaders some of the lowest salaries.
Proofreaders check for consistency in print layouts and reference citations. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders describes proofreaders as quality checkers, who compare a proof, or trial print, with the edited copy. They look for page numbers that are out of sequence, incorrect headings, misspellings and other errors. Sometimes proofreaders examine proofs without comparing them with edited copy, which the industry refers to as proofreading “blind.” Proofreaders earned a mean annual salary of $33,550 in 2010, but the top 10 percent of proofreaders earned just over $51,000, according to the BLS. The mean hourly pay for the occupation was around $16 in 2010, and the top 10 percent of proofreaders made nearly $25 per hour.
Newspaper and book publishers employ the largest number of proofreaders, BLS data reveals. However, the 4,300 proofreaders who worked in that sector in 2010 earned a salary of about $31,300, which was around $2,250 below the mean salary for the occupation. More than 2,000 proofreaders employed by printing companies and advertising and public relations firms fared better in terms of pay. They earned salaries ranging from about $33,000 to $39,000.
Proofreaders who are looking for work may find better-paying jobs outside the traditional publishing industry. For example, the BLS lists physician's offices and insurance agencies among the top-paying sectors for proofreaders. Expect keen competition for jobs in these sectors, because less than 200 proofreaders worked at doctor's offices and insurance agencies in 2010. However, they received salaries ranging from about $42,300 to $46,000, which means some proofreaders in these sectors earned around $12,000 more than the mean pay for the occupation.
Massachusetts, California and New York proofreaders earn some of the highest pay in their field. BLS data show proofreaders’ salaries in those states ranged from about $38,800 to more than $45,000 in 2010. The mean salary in Massachusetts exceeded the other two states at $45,640, but the BLS indicates that just 350 proofreaders worked in Massachusetts in 2010.