Editor Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
An editor's median salary is around $54,890. Is it worth the education and training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career outlook to find out if becoming an editor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Editor

Editors work for newspapers, magazines and book publishers, checking written content for grammar and spelling errors and coming up with story ideas. Look at the list of pros and cons below to decide if you want to pursue a career as an editor.

Pros of a Career as an Editor
Ability to exercise creativity when choosing stories and working with layouts*
Jobs typically require only a bachelor's degree*
Increased Internet access allows editors to work from a greater variety of locations*
Encouraging writers and helping them to succeed can be rewarding*

Cons of a Career as an Editor
Long hours may be necessary in order to meet deadlines*
Working under deadlines and ensuring accuracy can be stressful*
Little or no change in job growth is expected (-2% growth from 2012-2022)*
Strong competition is expected for newspaper and magazine jobs*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Editors work in various forms of media, reviewing content and correcting any grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. They also check sentence structure and rewrite copy for clarity and style. Fact-checking, reviewing submissions, choosing what content to publish and developing story ideas are other common job duties. In advanced positions, editors may take on more administrative and management responsibilities.

Career Paths

There are several types of editors, and each performs different duties. When starting out, you may seek out a job as a publication assistant. Publication assistants proofread content, review manuscripts and take phone calls. Once you have a little experience, you may become a copy editor, correcting grammar and style errors, checking facts and working on layouts. Managing editors are in charge of handling the day-to-day operations of a newsroom, while executive editors hire writers, work on budgets and negotiate contracts.

Salary Info and Career Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), editors earned a median salary of $54,890 in 2014. Due to a decline in the number of print publications, little or no change in employment is expected between 2012 and 2022. Because of this decline, there will be a significant amount of competition for jobs. Those with electronic media experience will likely be in the best position to obtain jobs.

What Are the Requirements?

Editors typically have degrees in English, communications or journalism, but writing experience and strong grammar skills may be sufficient for employment. Many editors have extensive writing experience and may have knowledge in the subject area of the material they edit. Participating in an internship or working at a high school or college newspaper can give you valuable experience in the field.

Career Skills

To become an editor, you need to be a good writer, have extensive knowledge of grammar rules and be able to convey your ideas clearly. In order to find errors, you must have excellent attention to detail. You will also need interpersonal skills when working with writers and other staff members.

Real Job Postings from Employers

Many employers look for candidates with strong writing, grammar, spelling and punctuation skills. Having a bachelor's degree and some level of experience is another common requirement. Employers also look for editors with communication skills, the ability to meet deadlines, attention to detail and experience with computer programs. The following list contains examples of real job postings open in April 2012:

  • A textbook publishing company in Boston was seeking an editor to proofread books and journals and design page layouts. The employer wanted someone with a bachelor's degree, 1-3 years of experience in publishing and knowledge of desktop publishing and specific software. They also required a highly organized person with interpersonal skills and the ability to manage their time.
  • A daily newspaper in Idaho advertised for a copy editor with a college degree or comparable experience and time working at a newspaper. Other requirements included night and weekend hours and the ability to work under deadlines. Communication, grammar and spelling skills were also necessary for this position.
  • A media company in Colorado was looking for an assistant managing editor with a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or information technology and experience working in a related industry. They also wanted someone with strong writing, editing, organizational, design and project management skills.
  • A publishing company in Pennsylvania was seeking an editorial assistant with a bachelor's degree and 1-2 years of experience. The employer's requirements included attention to detail and writing, editing, communication and organizational skills.
  • A news group in Maryland advertised for a web content editor with a bachelor's degree and 2-5 years of writing and editing experience. This job also required experience working with web technology and design programs.

How to Get Ahead in the Field

Learning basic web design and other multimedia skills can help you stand out in this field. With more publications being going online, it is becoming increasingly important for editors to know the principles of web design and have experience using various multimedia programs. According to the BLS, those with knowledge of technology tools will be most likely to get jobs as editors. Courses in web design are available at many colleges and universities and also in the form of free, online tutorials.

Another way to improve your skills and learn more about the field is to join a professional organization. The American Copy Editors Society (ACES) offers a mentorship program for those just starting out in the career or to those looking for career advice. A mentor can help you learn the ins-and-outs of the field and find jobs. Becoming a member of ACES will also get you a discounted rate for their annual conference, which offers workshops and opportunities to meet others in the field. The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) also offers an annual convention with learning and networking opportunities. ASNE members get access to web-based seminars on a variety of topics and can make free phone calls to other members when looking for career advice.

Career Alternatives

If you like writing, but aren't sure you want to work as an editor, you could consider a career as a technical writer. Technical writers often have bachelor's degrees in communications, English or journalism. They may also hold degrees in the technical field they write about, such as medicine, engineering or computer science. They write manuals and other content on technical subjects and choose drawings and photos to support the content. Technical writers draw a higher salary than editors, according to the BLS. Technical writers earned median salary of $64,000 in 2011.

Those more interested in the layout of a page as opposed to the written content may find that a career as a graphic designer would be a good fit. These designers create graphics and images for use in advertising materials and on websites. They apply knowledge of design principles when choosing colors, fonts and images, and they look for errors in designs before publication. Graphic designers can expect slightly more job growth than editors, with a 13 % increase in employment expected from 2010-2020. The BLS reported that graphic designers received median salary of $44,000 in 2011.

Popular Schools

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Featured Schools

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Freelance Writer

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • Communication Studies, B.A.
  • Communication Studies, A.A.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations

What is your highest level of education completed?