Job market

Read for a living?

I love reading. I’m entranced by the idea that perhaps someone would pay me to read for a living. When I came to write this blog I wondered if I would find out all about the lost career path I should have taken. Perhaps I was over optimistic, I haven’t identified the post for which I will give up the day job, but I did realise that throughout my career, I have done quite a bit of reading for work, and I’m still doing it.

So what’s out there?

Here’s my list of 5 top reading jobs.

1. blog_notebook250Popsugar has a good list of careers for readers, and which job do they list first? Blogger! Of course! Most of my posts start with a trawl through “what’s out there”, and I often find myself wandering off in a research direction which hadn’t first occurred to me. I’m obviously not alone in this approach. I often suggest blogging to students wanting to get into careers in writing, marketing and communications. If you can promote yourself and drive up readership for your blog, it’s a good indication that you might be good at promoting other things and blogging is a clear showcase for your writing style.

2. Then there are the really obvious reading jobs. You get to spend an awful lot of time reading if you become a Higher Education academic. Your job title might even be “Reader”. It’s not just Arts academics who read (although scientists will be reading figures and diagrams as well as words). Just like blogging the reading here comes before the writing, many academics are writing up and publishing their research on a regular basis. If academia is where you see your future you’ll need to embark on further study, generally you’ll start with a Masters before moving on to a PhD.

3. Plainly publishing as a career involves lots of reading too. Have a look at our previous post on careers in this field. There are lots of different job roles and opportunities. How about proof-reading, editing, being a literary agent or, of course, writing? (Why not listen to author, screenwriter and journalist, David Whitehouse, talking about some of his writing habits and inspirations).The world of publishing is changing and you’re going to need to be social media savvy to get readers for your publications, so that’ll be writing again too!

4. barrister_wig300A less obvious reading job which finds its way into Popsugar’s list is lawyer. Yes, lawyers do have to read a lot. They need to look up, understand and apply laws and they’ll be writing up their advice to clients and drafting court document, contracts and agreements. Once again the reading and writing are inextricable linked.

5. If you’re beginning to quail at the thought of all this writing don’t despair. You could think about working in, or running a bookshop. You’d get to read books, to decide on buying policy and might often have the chance to share your passion with customers. More and more bookshops are running reading groups, so you might get to participate in this too. Librarians might also get some time to read but have to make difficult commercial decisions on how to spend budget and certainly at Universities work very hard to support students with their study materials.

Is there anything else?

There are plenty of opportunities to read to support others. The wonderful Project Gutenberg is always looking for people prepared to proof-read its books. Getting involved in this could be really rewarding and might also stand you in good stead for careers in publishing.

You could also get involved in reading communities, like Goodreads. You would be sharing your enthusiasm for reading with others, developing a profile in the field and demonstrating your passion for reading, all good if you are wanting to read for a living.

book_review250Writing book reviews is another option. You can sign up to various sites to do this. Sometimes you’ll just get a book for free, on other occasions you might be paid a small amount. It probably won’t pay the bills but it could help you develop a portfolio which might just help you to get the journalism job.

So, there are options out there. Generally you won’t be able to read to the exclusion of all else and you won’t always be able to guarantee that you can read what you want. Oh well! Nothing’s perfect!

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