One of the many questions on our members’ lips nowadays is ‘Why accreditation?’ This blog attempts to answer this question by highlighting its numerous benefits.

Raising professional standards

Fundamentally, accreditation aims to raise professional standards of service provision in individuals, and it customarily takes the form of being offered, and grasping, opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD). The apex of any accreditation scheme is usually an accreditation test of some kind. This combination of CPD opportunities that enable practitioners to hone and test their knowledge and skills ultimately enables us to benchmark our level of professionalism ourselves. And to prepare ourselves for an eventual obligation to register with the South African Language Practitioners’ Council as a professional text editor – which will require us to take an accreditation test.

Confirming competence

Absent such opportunities, we as practitioners have no objective way of assessing our level of competence, especially if it has not been evaluated at all, or for some time – or if evaluation has not been offered in the form of feedback from clients (a rarity). Dangerously so, the absence of these opportunities can also lead to our settling in to a rut as professional improvers of authors’ words, of falling behind and not benefitting from opportunities to update our linguistic expertise (language being an evolving thing, a variety of authors presenting us with new challenges). Perhaps more seriously, our not seizing the opportunities for professional development will also lead to our not enhancing our technological acumen (think Adobe Acrobat Reader, PerfectIt, Google Docs, Cloud technology, social media).

Rising to the top

The raison d’être of accreditation is essentially differentiation: presumably someone who has gone the extra mile to put themselves to the test, and is able to add the title Accredited Text Editor or the initials ATE after their name, has to be – and has to be seen to be – a cut above the rest. And that status can surely only enhance their self-image, their marketability and their chances of getting paying work.

Ensuring quality

Indeed, once they are able to confirm the high levels of knowledge and skills they possess in this manner, by successfully completing a world-standard test, they are able to market themselves and their professional services with greater confidence. And, what’s more, their clients – both potential and actual – will be more assured of the quality of their deliverables.

Maintaining professionalism

It is not for nothing that accreditation – also known as certification – is encouraged by societies of editors around the globe, from the Australians Down Under to the Canadians on the opposite side of the planet. It is all ultimately in the interests of greater professionalism.

And since ‘professional’ is part of the PEG’s name, surely it is incumbent upon its members to conduct themselves as professionals. Indeed, the Guild’s Code of Conduct urges members to do so, not only in their dealings with clients but also in their relationships with their fellow practitioners, in the process doing their profession proud.

Accredited status should therefore be much-coveted, an apex status that each and every professional editor should strive to attain, sooner rather than later.

Photo credits: Natasha Gonçalves

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About John Linnegar

John Linnegar has been a text editor, proofreader and indexer of school and academic textbooks, reports and journal articles since the 1970s. For more than 20 years he has trained generations of editors, proofreaders and indexers. During this time, he (co-)wrote several books on aspects of language usage and editing, including Engleish, our Engleish: Common errors in South African English and how to resolve them (2013), Grammar, punctuation and all that jazz … (2019) and Text Editing: A handbook for students and practitioners (2012). With Consistency, consistency, consistency, he pioneered the series of PEG guides that now numbers five titles. Besides being a PEG Honorary Life Member and an Accredited Text Editor of both SATI and PEG, he is a member of a number of professional associations worldwide, including SENSE, NEaT and the CSE (Australia) and a regular presenter at international conferences.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.