About Us

The Board was founded by 10 editors who had long been active in national and international professional associations in scientific editing and publishing. They began working on the development of the certification program in the early 1980s. They were assisted by consultants in testing and by administrators of certification programs in other professions. BELS was incorporated in the state of Maryland on January 23, 1991, and the first official certification examinations were offered that year.


To maintain and promote a standard of proficiency in editing in the life sciences.


To improve communication in the life sciences through certification that supports the role and value of editorial professionals.

BELS now has over one thousand board-certified editors in the following countries:

  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Three credentials are offered:

  • Editor in the Life Sciences (referred to as "certification")
  • Diplomate Editor in the Life Sciences
  • Honored Editor in the Life Sciences

The BELS Directory is a list of all Board Certified editors


The certification examination is a 2 hour and 45 minute multiple-choice test of scientific editing in English. It resembles the standard tests used in many professions to certify practitioners. The program is designed to assure employers or clients of editors that a Board-certified editor has established a high level of credibility. Editors who successfully complete the certification examination may use the designation ELS (Editor in the Life Sciences) after their names.

The examination is held quarterly during the months of January, April, July, and October each year each year at Prometric Testing Centers across the globe. More information about the certification process is available on the Become a Board-Certified Editor page.


The diplomate program evaluates the abilities of more experienced Board-certified editors by means of a formal review of edited manuscripts in a portfolio submitted by the candidate. Editors who successfully complete the review process may use the designation ELS(D) after their names.

We have provided a more detailed description on the Diplomate Program page.

Honored Editor

Editors whose careers in editing in the life sciences have been so distinguished that BELS has bestowed the title Honored Editor in the Life Sciences may use the designation ELS(H) after their names.


Membership in BELS is not limited to those with a degree or editorial experience in the life sciences. Editors who have academic backgrounds in many different subjects have passed the certification examination. If you have experience in editing material published in journals, newsletters, textbooks, or reference books in any scientific or related field, you have a reasonable chance of earning certification from BELS.

BELS Freelance Ads

BELS members who have chosen to post an ad about their freelance editorial services can be accessed through the Search the Freelance Directory page.

Employers wishing to advertise job openings on the BELS website can learn more here.