how to become a knitting technical editor

There isn't one definitive path to becoming a tech editor. There isn't a universally recognised qualifications program that one can do or a specific course that grants you a certificate that says "Congrats you are now a tech editor!". (And no matter what an organisation or course website may say otherwise, there really isn’t a certification process that you need to go through)

I started out as a test knitter and then fell into tech editing. Luckily, it turned out that I was quite good at it. And this makes sense -- I come from a maths background, I'm analytical, I have a good eye for detail, I'm comfortable with spreadsheets. I also read a ton of knitting books just to keep learning. I buy patterns that have interesting constructions so I can read through them and figure out how they work. All these things combined make me a good editor. 

While I have a degree in mathematics, there are plenty of people who come into the tech editing world from something other than a maths background. They might have a science, engineering, English or communications degree. Or they might have 20 years experience working in a yarn store providing pattern support for customers that come in. It actually doesn't matter all that much.

See, I firmly believe it is our natural skills (being comfortable with numbers, having an eye for detail, a slight tendency towards perfectionism) that make us great editors and not a certain degree or qualification.

If you want to be a tech editor you could go the same route I did and just dive in and learn as you go. It takes a long time, and it kind of sucks when you mess up and disappoint designers, but it works fine. But you might want encouragement and support as you learn a new skill. You might want to learn from someone who’s been there before and be sure you are doing it right and going in with your best foot forward. That’s what the Learn To Tech Edit course is for.

Now maybe you're thinking "I currently work full time, I like the idea of tech editing but I can't fit that in right now." or "I'm a busy mom and I'm not sure I will ever find the time for your course." And I totally understand those concerns. But here's the thing: My entire career as a technical editor has been built whilst also raising my kids. I started when my oldest son was 8 months old, I kept going through my pregnancy with my youngest, and was back at editing when he was 1 month old (and I still had his 2-year-old brother to contend with.) You don't need to have childcare (it helps of course, even if it's just your partner or a grandparent taking the kids out of the house for an hour). You can work during nap time if that's all you have available. (It's all I had when I started out! For a few months, nearly all my editing work was done standing up with my kiddo asleep in a sling on my back because he did not enjoy napping in a crib.) If you're in a full-time job you can fit this into your evenings or weekends if you can find a couple hours here and there.

The truth is, you can become a tech editor no matter what your current work/life situation is and no matter what your background is.

Here's what it comes down to:

Yes, crunching numbers needs to make your heart sing if you're going to think about this as a career but you don't need anything beyond high school math. You need a few hours of free time a week. You also need to have an eye for detail. You need to be able to tell the difference between:

Row 1 (RS): K1, p2, k to end of row.
Row 1 [RS]: K1, p2, knit to end.

If you can't spot the differences (hint: there are 3), then maybe tech editing isn't for you.

Still not sure? Well if any of the following apply to you...

  • read books on knitted sweater construction for fun

  • have passionate views about the Oxford comma

  • have done a bit of test knitting and really impressed the designer with your feedback

  • noticed all my grammatical errors in this post ;)

...then I think you'll love tech editing. 

If you have any questions, please hit that message button in the bottom right corner.

P.S. If all of this makes you scream "YES! This is the career I've been wanting" then you might want to check out my Learn-Build-Grow program.