Indexers usually become indexers later in life as a second, third, or twelfth career move. I suspect the same is true of many professionals in the publishing world. Bringing life and professional experience to the table increases our proficiency and depth of understanding.
Learning what professions or experiences other indexers bring to their indexing careers fascinates me. I met a veterinarian who became an indexer. What did she index? Primarily medical books. And who better to do so than someone who understands the jargon and concepts? Former librarians often gravitate toward indexing. Their skills with organization and categorizing along with their appreciation for books in general make this career transition a natural fit. History teachers, investment professionals, dog groomers, office managers, tax attorneys – whatever your area of expertise – all can use those skills as an indexer (or an author, or an editor, or a proofreader, or a multitude of other publishing jobs).
A certain level of maturity comes with experience, and that maturity also creates an opportunity for professionals to generalize their former experience and apply it to a new career. Taking the skills used for other jobs (like an office manager’s organizational skills, or an investment professional’s understanding of the business world, or an attorney’s understanding of the legal system, as examples) creates a broad foundation of skills to apply to an indexing (or other publishing) career.
Valuing experience and maturity is one of the strengths of the publishing industry. Building on our personal strengths gives us opportunity to explore new careers while still valuing what we have learned along the way.
Anyone who has experience changing careers into publishing should feel free to chime in and share your tale. I love to hear the stories of the paths people have taken.