Pros and Cons of a Career as an Editor in Chief
Editors in chief oversee the editorial process for publications and news gathering organizations. If you're considering pursuing a career as an editor in chief, there are a few things you may wish to consider.
|Pros of Being an Editor in Chief|
|Six-figure income potential**|
|Creative control over many aspects of publishing*|
|Opportunity to use advanced skills in writing and editing*|
|Ability to inform and educate large audiences*|
|Cons of Being an Editor in Chief|
|Poor job growth (-2% expected from 2012 to 2022)*|
|High competition for jobs*|
|Extensive experience required*|
|High stress, deadline-driven occupation*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.
Job Description and Duties
Depending upon the size of a publication's production staff, editors in chief may oversee several writers and editors to develop news articles, feature stories, instructional information or entertainment content. In managing an editorial staff, you'll oversee writing projects from conception to publication. You'll often play an integral role in developing the layout for a publication, including choosing graphics and other designs. You may also oversee production workers to ensure the quality of a finished publication. Administrative duties may include hiring and training writing and editorial staff as well as managing the financial budget for a publication.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
Careers in print media continue to decline as more news and entertainment content reaches audiences through websites and online broadcasts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a negative 2% increase in employment for editors from 2012-2022, with coveted managing editor positions seeing increased competition. The BLS' 2014 data reported a median salary of about $55,000 for editors, with experienced managing editors having the ability to earn a much higher salary depending upon the publication size and the region of publication. PayScale.com reported the pay range for most editors in chief as $40,000 to $140,000 per year as of 2015.
Career Skills and Requirements
Most careers in print media require a bachelor's degree in journalism, communication or English. Some undergraduate degree programs feature tracks or majors in editing. Although professional experience is paramount, an advanced degree in media communications or journalism may provide you with a competitive edge. In general, most editors in chief begin as entry-level journalists or reporters. With success and experience, writers can advance into editorial positions.
College programs can prepare you for mid-level journalism professions by allowing you the opportunity to work for campus newspapers, journals or magazines. Certain programs also provide academic training in areas such as web journalism and digital media. Many colleges also have partnerships with local production or publishing organizations to allow you to gain internship experience prior to your program completion.
To function in such a managing position, you'll need to possess excellent interpersonal communication skills, be detail-oriented, decisive and creative. As editing tasks are often extremely deadline driven, you'ill need to utilize organizational and time management skills. Considering the amount of interaction you'll have, you should be comfortable working within a team and have a degree of flexibility when it comes to last minute changes.
Job Listings from Real Employers
While many editors in chief work their way into their positions by advancing within an organization, there are opportunities for you to use your experience and expertise in the job market. In addition to traditional media publications and newspapers, many technical, consumer or professional journals seek chief editors to oversee a publication's production. Here are a few examples of jobs available for editors in chief as of April 2012:
- A legal journal in San Francisco is looking for an editor in chief to lead editorial initiatives, manage editorial staff and report directly to publisher. Additional responsibilities include hiring, training and developing writing and editorial staff. Bachelor's degree required (J.D. degree preferred) plus experience in editorial leadership.
- A Philadelphia-based international publisher of medical, scientific and technical resource material needs an editor in chief to lead an editorial team, evaluate and review content, coordinate workloads and meet deadlines. Successful applicant will possess 3-5 years of experience as a professional physician as well as experience in healthcare information. This employer wants a sharp self-starter who can work in a fast-paced environment and is aware of national issues.
- A California multimedia and logistics company needs an editor in chief to oversee production of its print and online magazine. The candidate would know design programs such as Photoshop, have experience with social media promotions and be responsible for budgeting. A college degree is needed along with five years of magazine experience.
How to Get an Edge in the Field
As the BLS suggested in its 2012-2022 job outlook projection, opportunities in print media will likely shrink. To stand out as an editor in chief you may want to focus on an area of technical specialty like website production, online media marketing or digital editing. Careers in digital media may require training in developing software technology, including desktop publishing. You may choose to pursue a second undergraduate major or minor concentration in a technical field or gain professional experience by working with the technical team members of your publication. As web journalism begins to take over, editors will soon be concerned not only with meeting deadlines, but also with providing content that remains useful to consumers over time.
Alternative Career Paths
Broadcast News Analyst
Broadcast news analysts work with editors, producers and directors to research and develop on-air content for news programs. Many broadcast news analysts possess experience as a reporter, correspondent or writer. As with careers in editing, news analysts generally obtain a bachelor's degree or higher in journalism or communication. According to BLS projections, these professionals could expect a job growth of ten percent from 2010-2020, which was significantly faster than the editing field. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) reported a median salary of about $56,000 for broadcast news analysts as of 2011.
Technical writers create instruction manuals; technical or scientific journal features; or industry reports. They inform manufacturers and consumers on technical information, often translating jargon, statistics and complex procedures for a wider audience. As the need for technical information expands, careers for technical writing should increase at a slightly above average rate of 17% from 2010-2020, based on BLS estimates. According to O*NET, 92% of technical writers obtain a bachelor's degree. Technical writers often specialize in areas such as scientific technology, medicine, computing or other technical field. The BLS' 2011 salary report calculated a median salary of about $65,000 for technical writers.