Career outlook for indexer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would make it quick and easy for people to find information in a book or website. You’d create a list of terms and words that point to the right information.

You would create lists of searchable terms for publications such as books, periodicals, technical manuals, reports and websites.

You would:

  • Read and study the document to get an overall idea of what it covers
  • Identify important words and phrases and note where they or variations of them occur in the text
  • Put these words and phrases in alphabetical order
  • Identify the main topics and break them down into smaller, more precise concepts
  • Cross-reference related topics
  • Organise the index so that information is easy to find
  • Index the photographs, diagrams and other illustrations used in the text

You would analyse the text and find the sections about same idea or fact even when it is referred to using a different word or term. You’d come up with a list of the words that a reader who is not familiar with the topic might also use to find that information.

You’d use specialist computer software to sort, format and print the index.

You will need to be focused and methodical with good general knowledge. It will help to have some specialist knowledge to index particular subjects or technical works.

Most indexers are self-employed so you would also need to find clients, negotiate for work and run your own business.

Working conditions


You would usually choose your own working hours. However, the need to meet deadlines for completing work may mean long hours, including evenings and weekends.


You would usually work from home.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Reading
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Filtering
  • Sorting
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


Although you do not need formal qualifications, most indexers have a degree (SCQF level 9/10). Administrative, Business, Law and ICT centred qualifications may be helpful in this job.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers. Some universities ask for qualifications to be gained in one sitting. 

You can also enter a degree with a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8). With Advanced Highers, HNC or HND qualification you may enter the second or third year of some degree courses.


Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by most course and employers) 
  • English (required by most course and employers) 
  • Social studies subjects such as media (required by most course and employers) 
  • Administration and IT
  • Business
  • ICT

Helpful to have

To register on the Indexers Available Directory you have to complete a distance learning course by the Society of Indexers.This usually takes between one to four years.