What Is the Difference Between A Proofreader & An Editor?

I’ve been a writer since, technically, the third grade, when my short story, The Wolf & I, won me third place and $300 in my local library’s writing contest.

Yep, that’s right – 300 big ones for a third grader. The nineties were a different time to be a writer.

But I digress – my point being is that I’ve been a writer for many, many years. While I don’t actually count that library payment as the start of my professional writing career, I have been a paid adult writer for approximately 12 years. That’s a pretty long time!

So, when my editor gave me this topic – “What is the difference between an editor and a proofreader?” – I felt a bit flabbergasted. Why?

Because I was momentarily stumped. I realized I only had a vague idea of the differences between the two.

And since we often write about the similar roles in conjunction on Real Ways to Earn, we figured it would be in our readers’ best interest if we spent some time defining what one role does versus another, which companies hire proofreaders specifically and which companies hire editors, etc.

And of course, all of the aforementioned companies are at the very least, open to hiring remote workers. Read on.

What Does An Editor Do?

Editors are typically hired to improve the “flow” and quality of writing. This is a much more creative endeavor, as opposed to a Proofreader, whose main job function is to check an article for spelling errors, punctuation mistakes, and grammar misses.

Think of an Editor like an artist and a Proofreader like an instructor; one is inventive, and the other is precise.

That doesn’t mean that these two roles can’t blend together at times, especially if you’re working remotely for a start-up or smaller business – but make no mistake, these job functions are separate.

Below is a list of companies that specifically hire remote editors:

Companies That Hire Remote Editors


Cactus hires remote editors to work on a variety of projects, primarily in the medical and pharmaceutical fields.

Other industries you may find yourself editing for include: scholarly publishing, physical sciences, engineering, life sciences, and the humanities – so it isn’t all dry topics!

Cactus also has multiple opportunities in terms of how you want to work, whether it’s full-time, entirely from home, full-time/in-office, or as a freelancer. They’re big proponents of telecommuting, which is a bonus in our book! 

Current openings at the time of publishing this article included: Academic Editing, Physical Sciences & Engineering; Academic Editing, Medicine & Life Sciences; and Academic Editing, Humanities & Social Sciences. As you can see, the company places a heavy emphasis on academia, so only apply if that world is within your background. 

Some editors cite low pay within the company, so that is something to consider prior to applying.

We also have a CACTUS review if you'd like a little more detail on this company.

American Journal Experts (AJE)

The American Journal Experts, or AJE, is a division of Research Square, founded in Durham, North Carolina – meaning, it is a part of the famed Research Triangle. The company claims to have edited “over half a million papers in 447 areas of study” – so it seems like a pretty decent place to work for!

Again, this is another company in which the employees claim that the pay is low, so perhaps ask prior to applying what your pay rate would be, and then decide if it works for you.


Gramlee accepts clients that need editing with a super-fast turnaround time. How fast, you ask? 24-hours-fast. This could mean that there is constant work for you (at home, as a contractor, of course). And the customer reviews of Gramlee are top-notch.

Based on the example work on their website, it’s definitely more of an editing position, as you can seemingly change up the way content is phrased. If you join, let us know what you think!


Perhaps one of the best features of EditFast is its transparency. The company – right on its homepage – is pretty upfront about pay (they keep 40% of the final total project price), how often you get work (could be fairly often, could be not-that-often), restrictions (don’t talk to the client, duh!) – and so much more.

The company hires freelancers and sends notifications when client work is available.

Managed Editing

This website hires skilled editors to work as contractors from home, of course, though right now they “don’t have a current pressing need.” It certainly couldn’t hurt to apply, though!

Let us know how the application process goes and if you get hired on – it seems like a great company to work for, what with their higher standards for editors (you need to have a college degree and at least five years of editing experience if you want to apply for a position).

What Does a Proofreader Do?

A proofreader, is, by definition, a person that is essentially a post-draft-editor. Proofreading is an activity that occurs after a draft of an article, blog, manuscript, etc., is completed.

Proofreading is the final step of the editing process; according to Upwork.com, “A proofreader will review for spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos or incorrect use of regional English (i.e. ensuring that you’re using American English or British English when necessary).”

Much like our list above, below is a list of companies that specifically hire remote proofreaders, if that’s more your style and experience:

Companies That Hire Remote Proofreaders


This website hires proofreaders from all over the world – and it requires you to take a 20-minute test to ensure that you’re up-to-par.

The website states that pay ranges from USD $19-$46 hourly, with “the highest pay for the most urgent deadlines.”

The website also cites “flexible hours” and “great colleagues!” While the latter is a bit of a “gimme” – I mean, you’re working from home, after all, not around other people, and I’m assuming the only real interaction you’re going to have while working for this company is with your editor and/or supervisor – the flexible hours part is key.

I’ve noticed lately that some companies, while hiring freelancers, want you to be available certain hours – ironic, as part of being a freelancer means that legally, you can work whenever you want and aren’t bound by typical employee/employer rules of having to be somewhere at a certain time/between certain hours, or at least working between certain hours.

I appreciate a company that’s upfront about its flexibility – or lack thereof. 

Quality Proofreading Services

This group hires native English speakers as proofreaders, and typically sways more towards the Brits versus American English speakers.

The company provides professional proofreading services for academics, students, and companies; their main focuses are business, science, engineering, and management.

You must have a university degree to work for this proofreading service, so keep that in mind before applying, especially if you haven’t finished school, or are a student yourself.

While the website doesn’t provide information on pay, it does start its pricing for its clients, so you can judge for yourself whether that may work in your favor: “rates start from £10.90/€15.00/$16.50 per 1,000 words (+20% VAT for UK and EU customers).”


According to their website, Babbletype is “always looking for editors” – but they are highly selective. Also, from the reviews, it sounds like it’s actually a proofreading job – not an editorial one (see below).

Other reviews state that payment starts low, but can increase significantly as you get faster and better at the work.

Your work at Babbletype will be the final stage of work before getting sent off to the client, hence it being an actual “proofreading” job.


This website hires, specifically, scientific proofreaders – a very specific job function of a very specific industry! They hire translators, too, so feel free to apply if you fit the bill!

They even have a “Scientists’ Library” available on their website – pretty cool!

Cambridge Proofreading

This service is a bit confusing, much like Babbletype, as it tends to use the terms “editor” and “proofreader” interchangeably, but regardless, the company seems to be focused on proofreading over editing. In order to work for Cambridge, you must:

  • be a native English speaker.
  • hold at least a BA from a “well-respected” university, and
  • be able to edit at least 10,000 words per week.

The above – especially the final point – isn’t bad, considering that 10,000 words equates to about 20 single-spaced pages – I could do that in my sleep!

Average pay is between $20-$30 per hour, and you can choose when to get paid, whether it’s bi-monthly, weekly, or monthly – that’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me! Pay, of course, depends on your editing speed and accuracy.

Have you obtained any work-from-home positions as an editor and/or proofreader? Which is your forte? Let us know in the comments!

Idea – Start a Proofreading Side Hustle

Would you rather work for yourself as a proofreader and make MORE money?

Working for yourself is usually the most profitable route to take because you can set your own rates and seek out higher-paying clients.

If you'd like some guidance in doing this, I recommend this FREE 76-minute workshop explaining how to go about starting your own freelance general proofreading side hustle from home.

This webinar was put together by a friend of mine who created her own proofreading side hustle from home, earning $43,000 in her first year!

This is extremely useful information if you're thinking seriously about striking out on your own.


Good luck in whatever you choose to pursue!