One of the first questions many people have when first getting into editing and/or proofreading is What professional association should I join? There are a lot of great organizations that have been formed specifically for editors, but each has its pros and cons. Below is a list of some of the more well-known associations.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association since this organization fits my needs best as a full-time freelancer. I’ve tried to assess each association impartially based on the research I conducted.

American Copy Editors Society (ACES)

ACES: The Society for Editing—the nation’s leading organization of editing professionals, educators, and students—is dedicated to improving the quality of communication and the working lives of editors.
The society was founded in 1997 and sets standards of excellence and gives a voice to editors in journalism, government, business, and beyond through top-notch training, networking, and career opportunities.


ACES offers the following benefits for members:

  • Discounts on the ACES national conference and ACES regional training events
  • Discounts on webinars and certificate programs offered online through ACES and Poynter
  • Access to Tracking Changes, ACES’ members-only quarterly journal
  • A free listing in the ACES Editors for Hire freelancer directory
  • Discounts on subscriptions to style manuals
  • Discounts on software and other tools
  • Discounted conference fees for other associations

Although ACES members come from all different fields and industries, the society does seem to focus on issues and training specifically for journalists. If you want to join an organization that caters to a more diverse group of editors, another association may be a better fit.

Council of Science Editors (CSE)

The Council of Science Editors (CSE) is an international membership organization for editorial professionals publishing in the sciences. Its purpose is to serve over 800 members in the scientific, scientific publishing, and information science communities by fostering networking, education, discussion, and exchange.


CSE offers the following benefits for members:

  • An annual subscription to Science Editor, CSE’s quarterly journal
  • Access to your fellow members through CSE’s website and membership directory
  • Access to the CSE Listserv to communicate with members and colleagues
  • Ability to participate as a mentor/mentee in CSE’s Mentorship Program
  • A member discount on the registration fee for the CSE Annual Meeting
  • A member discount on the registration fee for webinars on current topics and emerging issues
  • A member discount on the registration fee for the popular Short Courses
  • A range of opportunities to participate in the creation of editorial policies and standards

CSE’s programs are obviously targeted at editors working with life science and biomedical publications, so if you don’t specialize in these areas, another organization may be a better fit for your needs.

Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA)

The EFA provides resources for both freelancers and clients, including a chart of common rates. EFA members are editors, writers, indexers, proofreaders, researchers, desktop publishers, translators, and others who offer a broad range of skills and specialties.


The EFA offers the following benefits for members:

  • Online membership directory
  • Education program
  • Job list subscription
  • Discussion list
  • Regional chapters and networking groups
  • Meetings and events
  • Publishing opportunities
  • Publications (including the bimonthly newsletter, the Freelancer)
  • Health care discount plans
  • Discounts on other training and software

The EFA focuses on freelancers, so if you’re an in-house editor, you may not find these resources useful. Competition for jobs published on the jobs list can also be intense.

Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada)

Editors Canada promotes professional editing as key in producing effective communication. Its 1,300 members are salaried and freelance, working with individuals and organizations in the corporate, technical, government, not-for-profit, academic, and publishing sectors across the country and around the world in English and French. Many offer a wealth of editing-related services to their clients and employers.


Editors Canada offers the following benefits for members:

  • Workshops and seminars
  • Professional certification
  • Listing in the Online Directory of Editors (ODE)
  • Access to the National Job Board
  • Branch hotlines
  • Mediation and affordable insurance plans
  • Social events
  • Annual national conference
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Publications and resources, including Editors Canada’s national newsletter
  • Discounts on training opportunities, office supplies, and resources
  • Email forums and online bulletin board
  • Membership meetings
  • Professional development seminars

This association offers many excellent resources, but membership may be a better fit for those who live and work in Canada. Most meetings and events are held in Canada, and the certification tests are offered each November at sites throughout the country.

You can still take advantage of the free resources available, including the information on the Editors Canada website and blog.

Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)

The SfEP has three main aims: (1) to promote high editorial standards, (2) to uphold the professional status of editors and proofreaders, and (3) to encourage the use of services offered by SfEP members.
The SfEP was formed in November 1988 and now has about 2,100 members (mostly in the UK) providing editorial services to publishers and a wide range of companies, government agencies, and other bodies.


The SfEP offers the following benefits for individual members:

  • Help getting work
  • Regular networking opportunities
  • Training and professional qualifications
  • Publications, including the bimonthly magazine Editing Matters
  • Books, products, services, and subscriptions
  • Membership-only forums
  • Listing in the online Directory of Editorial Services

Although the SfEP does have an international focus, its members are primarily from the UK. As with Editors Canada, if you live and work elsewhere, this organization may not be the best fit for you.

Anyone can join the SfEP as an entry-level member, but there are strict requirements you must meet if you wish to upgrade your membership. The other levels are as follows:

  • Intermediate Membership
  • Professional Membership
  • Advanced Professional Membership

Each level offers different benefits, so it’s a good idea to do your research before applying to join this organization.

This list doesn’t include all of the editing associations out there—there are many more around the world you can consider joining. But if you’re just starting out and looking for a relevant organization to join, this should help you get started. All of these associations provide great resources, training, and support from like-minded editors.

Other Resources

Tools to Help You Get Started: Organizations and Associations
Professional Associations for Canadian Editors
How to Choose a Professional Organization to Join

What other organizations have you researched or considered joining? Feel free to comment!

11 thoughts to “Don’t Go It Alone: Professional Associations for Editors

  • Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

    Please consider including the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors ( There’s also the Northwest Independent Editors Guild.

    • Denise Foster

      Thanks, Ruth. I might do a Part 2 as a follow-up! Stay tuned.

  • Katharine O' Moore-Klopf

    Your readers can find links to the websites of many additional editing-related associations around the world by looking at the “Networking” page of the Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base:

    • Denise Foster

      Thanks, Katharine! This is definitely an excellent resource.

  • Karin Cather

    I am an American and I have been a member of Editors Canada for as long as I have been a member of Editorial Freelancers Association—since 2014. As a member of Editors Canada, I have been welcome with open arms, and even been given volunteer opportunities, even though I have never even lived in Canada. The editorial professional standards that they have created and published are useful for editors all over the world, and the form they have devised for academic editors to protect their clients from claims of academic dishonesty has been profoundly useful to me, not only because clients and their dissertation/thesis supervisors have to fill it out, but because it has saved me from red-flag clients who wanted to hire me behind their dissertation committee’s back. I edit fiction, memoir, and nonfiction, and I found their 2015 conference excellent. It is only my schedule and family commitments that have kept me away from 2016 and 2017 Editors Canada conferences. People from all over the world attend and present. Editors Canada offers excellent courses online that are useful for editors all over the world.

    You might argue that it is difficult to get to a meeting in person, and you would be absolutely right. But Editorial Freelancers Association is only now starting a chapter in my metro area, and I have participated in many conference calls with Editors Canada, because Canada is a big place. Please consider revising your entry for Editors Canada.

    • Denise Foster

      Thanks for your feedback, Karin. I did slightly revise my post based on your comment.

      I didn’t mean to imply that joining Editors Canada is not useful—I know that the association offers great resources and training. But anyone looking to join a professional association should take into account the fact that most meetings and the certification tests are held in Canada. It may not be feasible for someone living far away to pay for travel expenses to attend events. The SfEP, whose members are primarily from the UK, also offers great online resources. Every association has its pros and cons.

  • Wendy Barron

    Thanks for this helpful analysis, Denise. I’d also suggest that editors should consider their goals, location, personality, and social preferences in assessing which professional association is the best fit for them.

    A student or a new grad just starting out in the industry will have different priorities from a mid-career editor adding a new service or focus to their portfolio, or a long-timer moving toward retirement. An editor in an urban centre may have different needs than one in a more isolated place. And a sociable, outgoing, “get ‘er done” editor may want different opportunities than than would suit a more reticent editor.

    Getting involved in association activities opens many more doors, much faster, than just belonging. Working with a group on a common goal helps you connect with others more quickly and more meaningfully than chatting over cocktails or coffee once a month. It’s a great way to put your unique skills into practice or develop new skills, and really contribute to the association and the profession. So when you’re looking at what belonging to an association could do for you, don’t forget to consider the other side: what you could bring to the association!

  • Nikki Busch

    Might I suggest that you change “Health care discount plans” under the EFA to “Dental care discount plans”? Based on the link provided, the EFA does not offer discounts on other types of health care, and in this day and age of concern about how freelancers will afford other medical bills and health insurance in the future, the information as stated might seem misleading.

    Also, you might want to consider adding the Association of Independent Publishing Professionals (AIPP). Although it is not an editing association, it is an association for freelance professionals (including editors and proofreaders) who work with indie authors who self-publish fiction and creative nonfiction and small presses.

    • Denise Foster

      Thanks, Nikki. You are correct that this could be misleading, but I’m going to leave the text as is; I did get this information directly from the EFA website, and after doing some digging, I read that EFA members can receive discounts through Careington on “physician, dental, vision, and hearing care; prescriptions and medical supplies; and health and wellness products.”

      I might do a Part 2 as a follow-up to include more associations! Stay tuned.

  • Richard Trump

    You might also want to add the Association of Independent Publishing Professionals AIPP to the list. It is a fairly young group dedicated to professionals who work with independent publishers. So this could be a proofreader, editor, but also an illustrator, etc.


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