Career Development

Editor Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Editors work with writers and other content creators to develop the content for a publication, ensure its accuracy, and prepare it for publication. Editors also ensure that the publication's style and tone are consistent and that the publication is free of errors.

Editors work with writers and other content creators to develop the content for a publication, ensure its accuracy, and prepare it for publication. Editors also ensure that the publication’s style and tone are consistent and that the publication is free of errors.

Editors may be responsible for a publication’s overall look and feel, including layout, design, and artwork. They may also be responsible for managing the publication’s staff.

Editors’ work can be stressful and demanding. They must be able to work well under pressure, meet tight deadlines, and deal with a variety of personalities.

Editor Job Duties

Editors are responsible for a wide range of duties:

  • Editing copy to maintain consistency in tone and style, ensuring adherence to company standards
  • Proofreading documents for spelling, grammar, syntax, formatting, punctuation, clarity of language, accuracy of information presented
  • Developing clear writing guidelines and ensuring that writers follow them when submitting content for publication
  • Conducting interviews, gathering information and doing research for articles
  • Providing feedback to writers on their work.
  • Assisting with design projects such as laying out pages, editing photos or illustrations for publication
  • Attending meetings to exchange ideas with members of different departments on how best to reach target audiences

Editor Salary & Outlook

Editors are well compensated for their efforts. As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for editors is $63,400. The top 10% of editors earn more than $126,800. 

The employment of editors is projected to decline by 7% between 2019-2029. The industry is changing, and editors will have to adapt to the new reality of media consumption. Editors will still be needed to review and revise drafts and to keep the style and voice of a publication consistent.

Editor Job Requirements

The requirements for editors are as follows:

Education: An editor should have a degree in English, journalism or a related field. Courses in these programs focus on grammar, writing style, critical analysis, media law and communications.

Training: Most employers provide on-the-job training for new editors. This training helps new editors learn the company’s methodologies and processes for producing content. They also learn the company’s editing style and how to edit content in a way that still communicates the author’s message.

Certifications & Licenses: Editors are not required to hold a specific certification, but many take advantage of them to show their skills and advance their careers. For example, ACES: The Society for Editing offers a variety of editing and proofreading certifications

Editor Skills

In addition to education and writing samples, editors need a variety of other “soft skills” to help them succeed:

Communication: Editors must be able to communicate well with clients and coworkers.

Dedication: Editors work long hours, sometimes on tight deadlines. They also must be willing to put in the extra time necessary to get the job done right.

Meticulousness: Editors are responsible for catching errors that can cost their company money or embarrass its authors. A good editor is extremely detail-oriented and never misses a mistake.

Intelligence: Editing requires intelligence, creativity, and the ability to think critically about what’s being written.

Knowledge of grammar rules: Editors are responsible for making sure that everything they publish follows proper grammar rules. This includes knowing when it’s appropriate to break those rules—and how—to achieve the desired effect.

Editor Work Environment

Editors work in a variety of settings and may be self-employed or work for a company. They work closely with writers, and may also work closely with designers, production staff, and sales staff.

Editors are often considered a high-stress occupation, as they are in charge of making creative decisions and often have a large responsibility for the outcome of the project.

Editor Career Advancement

Editors may advance to a senior editor or a publisher position. Senior editors manage a team of editors and determine their assignments, salaries, and other aspects of their careers. They’re responsible for ensuring that each person on their team is performing well and understands the goals of the publication.

Publishers are responsible for managing writers as well as advertising, marketing, production, and other activities. They might also be responsible for pitching the magazine to prospective advertisers. Publishing houses look for candidates who have a background in project management and can juggle multiple responsibilities at once.

In some cases, editors have the opportunity to become authors and write their own books.

Editor Trends

Here are three trends influencing how editors work. Editors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Personal Touch

It has become increasingly important for written content, including marketing copy and media releases, to maintain a personal touch. In many cases, engaging prose can help bolster social media content or online articles that would otherwise feel impersonal or lack personality as it reaches readers who appreciate genuine conversation from sources they trust.

Multiple Levels of Editing

Many organizations now use a model called collaborative editing that has multiple people perform tasks, such as content creation, editing, and formatting. The success of collaborative editing depends on having strong leadership capabilities from senior-level editors who have the ability to organize, coordinate and manage teams across various skill sets.

Increasing Importance of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO), the process by which web pages are deliberately improved so they rank higher when people search them using keywords from engines like Google or Bing, is becoming increasingly important across all fields due to its central role in driving traffic to websites. As such editors need an understanding of SEO techniques if they hope to remain relevant amid increasing competition for views.

How to Become a Editor

1. Planning Your Career Path

Though many people dream of becoming a full-time editor, this can be a difficult job to break into without relevant experience. If you’re interested in pursuing an editorial career, start by building your resume with internships and entry-level work; once you have established some connections within the industry, it will be easier to find positions that allow for advancement.

2. Writing a Resume

The first step in writing an effective resume for a job as an editor is to develop a strategy. Before you start writing, be sure to take the time to evaluate your skills and accomplishments. The goal of this exercise is to identify the relevant experience that you have that will translate into success in this role.

Next, compile a list of your transferable skills and how they can benefit this position (e.g., excellent communication abilities, strong attention to detail). These attributes should then be used as bullet points throughout your resume. Additionally, consider including any awards or accolades from previous jobs on your resume as well — these can serve as great conversation starters during interviews.

3. Applying for Jobs

Take the time to think about the kinds of things you like to do, or even the kinds of people you enjoy working with. You may want to consider your personal interests when making a list of target companies; maybe you’d like to work for a sports publication or a small magazine in the city. Be sure to also include large-scale organizations that provide many different opportunities; you never know where you’ll find your ideal fit.

If you are looking to be an editor for a specific company, reach out to them and let them know why you are interested in working for them. Be sure to follow up with any emails or messages and be persistent, but polite. It is very likely that they will not have positions available immediately, but if you remain in contact with them, they will remember you when they have something available.

4. Ace the Interview

Before your interview, you will want to read the publication you will be working for and get a sense of the style and tone. It is also important to make sure you are familiar with the terminology used in the industry and the specific publication

During the interview, it is also important to make a good first impression by dressing professionally. It is also important to show that you can be organized and meet deadlines, so think about past projects you have worked on that show these skills.


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