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Associate Editor vs. Assistant Editor: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in publishing, you may be wondering what the difference is between an associate editor and an assistant editor. Both roles are important in the editing process, but there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we’ll discuss the duties of an associate editor and an assistant editor, the skills required for each position and the average salary you can expect to earn.

What is an Associate Editor?

An Associate Editor is a high-level editorial position that is responsible for the content and quality of a publication. Associate Editors work with writers, editors, graphic designers and other staff to ensure that the publication meets its editorial standards. They often have a team of editors that report to them and they are responsible for making sure that the team meets deadlines and produces quality work. Associate Editors also work with advertising and marketing staff to ensure that the publication is attractive to potential advertisers.

What is an Assistant Editor?

Assistant Editors work in a variety of industries, including publishing, film, television and advertising, to support Editors in their daily tasks. They typically work in an office setting, though some may work remotely. Assistant Editors typically handle the administrative tasks associated with editing, such as scheduling, organizing and tracking projects, preparing materials for meetings, and taking notes. They may also be responsible for conducting research, coordinating with other departments, and maintaining editorial calendars. In some cases, Assistant Editors may also be responsible for copyediting or proofreading content.

Associate Editor vs. Assistant Editor

Here are the main differences between an associate editor and an assistant editor.

Job Duties

Associate editors and assistant editors share some of their job duties, but each role has unique responsibilities as well. An associate editor oversees the editing process for a publication, ensuring that manuscripts are edited thoroughly and correctly before they’re published. They may work closely with authors to edit manuscripts or receive manuscripts from other editors and evaluate them on their own.

Assistant editors typically perform clerical tasks that support the editing process. This can include things like receiving submissions from authors and sending them back with comments or marking edits on manuscripts. However, assistant editors often don’t have extensive contact with authors or manuscripts and mainly provide support to the editing process.

Job Requirements

Associate editors and assistant editors typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many associate editors and assistant editors pursue certifications through the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) or the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use editing software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Both associate and assistant editors work in an office setting, but the type of office they work in can differ. An assistant editor may work for a publishing company or magazine that has its own offices. They may also work for freelance editing companies that provide services to different clients.

Associate editors usually work for larger publishing companies with multiple locations. This means that they often travel between their main office and other locations where they meet with authors and edit manuscripts.


The main difference between an associate editor and an assistant editor is that an associate editor is typically responsible for more editorial tasks, while an assistant editor is responsible for more administrative tasks. However, both positions require excellent communication, organizational, and multitasking skills.

An associate editor needs to be able to manage multiple projects at once and prioritize tasks effectively. They also need to have strong writing and editing skills, as they will be responsible for reviewing and editing content. Additionally, associate editors need to be able to work well with other members of the editorial team, as they will often be coordinating projects.

An assistant editor also needs to be organized and able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. However, their job duties are more focused on the administrative side of things. For example, they may be responsible for scheduling, managing deadlines, and communicating with authors and other stakeholders. Additionally, assistant editors need to have strong attention to detail, as they will often be proofreading and checking for errors in manuscripts.


The average salary for an associate editor is $58,890 per year, while the average salary for an assistant editor is $55,183 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the type of publication you work for, your level of experience and your location.


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