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IPEd has made a submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) consultation on the review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), calling for better recognition of the diversity of editors.

ANZSCO is used by the ABS to collect, publish and analyse official data and statistics for government planning and policy-making. ANZSCO is also used by other government agencies including the Australian Taxation Office, advocacy organisations and the private sector.

ANZSCO classifies occupations in nested groups from the broadest 1-digit level to the most detailed 6-digit level. ANZSCO currently has several 6-digit occupation codes relevant to editing:

  • 212212 Book or Script Editor, within the 4-digit code 2122 Authors, and Book and Script Editors
  • 212412 Newspaper or Periodical Editor, within the 4-digit code 2124 Journalists and Other Writers
  • 599913 Proofreader, within the 4-digit code 5999 Other Miscellaneous Clerical and Administrative Workers.

212212 Book or Script Editor

The ANZSCO description for 212212 is “evaluates manuscripts of books or scripts to determine suitability for publication and production, and edits and supervises material in preparation for publication for production film, television, radio or stage”.

IPEd believes that the current 6-digit code 212212 and description does not adequately capture editors’ occupations and tasks. Editors edit a wide range of material beyond the books or scripts referred to, and for purposes other than traditional publication. As well as fiction and non-fiction books, editors edit academic material such as theses and journal articles, reports, corporate communications, newsletters, manuals, technical guidance, websites and social media content, and poetry.

IPEd has extensive material to guide the ABS on the classification of editors.

  1. IPEd has a publicly available online directory of approximately 400 self-employed editors that is searchable by a wide diversity of product types, showing the work and skill areas of editors and client needs.
  2. IPEd regularly conducts surveys of members that show the diversity of material edited and the range of client sectors. The most recent survey was conducted in April 2021.
  3. IPEd has developed Australian standards for editing practice (second edition 2013), shortly to be renamed IPEd standards for editing practice. The Standards set out the core standards that professional editors should meet and tell employers what to expect from the editors they hire. The Standards refer to three aspects or levels of editing: substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading. In practice, not all editors work on all of these aspects and not all publications go through all three levels of editing. Some overlap is inevitable. Most editors undertake some proofreading as part of their role.

Many editors are self-employed as sole traders, and edit a wide range of material in their business. Employee editors are employed by federal and state government agencies, by universities, by the private sector, by not-for-profit organisations and by the publishing industry, editing material for communication and publication in print and online.

IPEd suggests:

  • renaming 2122 as Authors and Editors to represent the diversity of editing captured within this 4-digit code beyond books and scripts
  • separating editors of material for publication and communication from editors of scripts for performance in 212212, with separate new 6-digit codes for different types of editors, such as Editors for publication and communication and Editors of performance-based scripts (film, television, radio or stage).

IPEd supports the current assessment of the skill level of editors as 1, the highest out of 5 levels. Evidence shows that editors are well educated with bachelor or higher qualifications, and employers require even entry-level editors to have a bachelor degree.

212412 Newspaper or Periodical Editor

IPEd notes this 6-digit code, with an alternative title of Associate Editor, includes specialisations of Subeditor and Website/Blog editor. It has a skill level of 1, similar to 212212.

599913 Proofreader

The ANZSCO description for this 6-digit code is “reads draft copies and proofs, detects errors and marks corrections to grammar, typing and composition”.

The occupation of proofreader originated in the printing industry, for the task of making a final check of proofs for a printing press before the material was physically printed. With technology-driven changes in the printing industry and a wide range of new dissemination channels including online and digital, the term proofreading now has different meanings to workers and clients, depending on familiarity with the industry. Some clients use the term proofreading interchangeably with editing, regardless of the work required. The number of workers in the specific, standalone occupation of proofreader is very small and declining. Jobs are rarely, if ever, titled proofreader, and are more likely to be called Editorial Assistant or Publishing Assistant.

The 6-digit code of proofreader has a skill level of 4 (out of 5), and is currently classified in group 5 Clerical and Administrative Workers. However, IPEd analysis of ads for entry-level jobs in editing, such as Editorial or Publishing Assistant, shows that employers require skills equivalent to a bachelor degree.

IPEd suggests:

  • abolishing the 6-digit code of 599913 proofreader, as there are declining workers in this standalone occupation and it is better captured within a code for editors such as a renamed 2122
  • alternatively, if the 6-digit proofreader code is retained, narrowing the definition to checking proofs for printing so it does not capture any element of editing. IPEd considers proofreading is one part of the broader task of editing.

More information

Find out more about ANZSCO here.

Our article in Gatherings March 2022 on the education and experience of editors is available here, and our article in Gatherings February 2022 on awards and agreements for employee editors is available here. These articles are based on the 2021 survey report available for members. There is also a discussion thread on the IPEd Discussion Board to discuss the survey results or answer any questions.


By Dr Rhonda Daniels AE, member, Pay Rates Working Party

24 March 2022