Career Development

What Does an Editor Do?

Find out what an editor does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an editor.

Editors are responsible for ensuring that written material is clear, consistent, and free of errors. They commonly work with a variety of different types of content, including articles, books, web pages, scripts, and more. Their job is to read through this content carefully and make any necessary edits or revisions so that it reads well when it’s published.

Editors may also be responsible for managing the writers who produce the content they edit. This might include assigning stories to writers, providing feedback on their writing as it progresses, and even helping them develop their skills over time.

Editor Job Duties

Editors typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conducting interviews with key personnel to gather information about events that occurred during the editing process
  • Planning projects by developing a schedule and assigning tasks to staff members
  • Communicating with writers and managing their expectations about when they will receive responses from editors
  • Reviewing manuscripts for content, style, format, and adherence to house style guidelines
  • Ensuring that all projects meet legal requirements such as those regarding libel, copyright infringement, plagiarism, or defamation
  • Reviewing drafts for grammatical errors and inconsistencies in style or tone
  • Scheduling meetings with authors to discuss drafts of manuscripts, provide feedback, and answer questions about the editing process
  • Reviewing final drafts for consistency in style, grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Training and supervising junior editors

Editor Salary & Outlook

Editors’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company or publication they work for. Freelance editors may earn a higher hourly wage than those who work full-time, but they may also have less job security.

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,000 ($27.88/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of editors is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited because demand for editorial content on websites and in social media is expected to reduce the need for traditional print publications. Editors will be needed to edit digital content, but fewer editors will be needed to edit print publications as more content is published online.

Editor Job Requirements

To become an editor, one typically needs to have the following:

Education: Most employers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in journalism or communications.

Many aspiring journalists choose to major in journalism or communications to gain a strong foundation in writing, research and critical thinking. Some universities offer bachelor’s degrees in journalism with a concentration in broadcast journalism, advertising or public relations.

Training & Experience: Editors typically gain the necessary training for their role while completing their education. Students can gain experience by working for their school’s newspaper or magazine, or by interning at a publishing company.

Editors can also gain experience by working in a different role in the publishing industry. For example, a copy editor can work as a proofreader before advancing to the role of copy editor.

Certifications & Licenses: Editors work independently, so they need to be self-starters who can work efficiently without constant oversight. While many editors earn certification to increase their career options and show their dedication to the profession, it is not typical for employers to require certification or a specific degree.

Editor Skills

Editors need the following skills in order to be successful:

Editing skills: The ability to edit is an important skill for any writer. Editors can review a piece of writing and make suggestions for improvement. This can include changing the structure of a sentence, rewording a phrase or suggesting a different approach to a topic. Having strong editing skills can help you improve your writing and make it more effective.

Communication skills: Communication skills are another important skill for authors to have. This is because you may need to communicate with others in the publishing industry, such as editors, designers and marketing teams. You may also need to communicate with your readers, such as through social media or email.

Time management skills: Time management skills are important for authors to have, as they can help them meet deadlines and complete their work on time. Having good time management skills can also help authors prioritize their work and make sure they complete the most important tasks first.

Computer software programs: Another skill that authors need is knowledge of computer software programs. Many authors use word processing programs, spreadsheets and other programs to create their work. Knowing how to use these programs can help authors write their manuscripts and edit their work.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes in a manuscript. This skill is important because it ensures that the final product is free of errors. When authors have attention to detail, they can catch mistakes before they are published. This can save the company time and money.

Editor Work Environment

Editors work in a variety of settings, including newsrooms, corporate offices, and publishing houses. They may work for newspapers, magazines, book publishers, or online media outlets. Some editors work from home. Editors typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work longer hours to meet deadlines. They may also travel to attend conferences or to visit the sites of news events.

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 Rise of the Content Marketing Manager

The rise of the content marketing manager is a trend that is quickly gaining traction in the business world. As businesses realize the importance of creating and distributing content, they are looking for professionals who can manage this process.

Content editors are well-positioned to take on this role, as they have experience writing and editing content. They also understand the importance of creating content that is both engaging and informative.

More Focus on Video Content

As video content becomes more popular, editors will need to focus on producing more of it. This means that they will need to be familiar with video production techniques and have the skills necessary to create high-quality videos.

In addition, editors will need to be able to manage video teams and work with other departments to ensure that video content meets the needs of the company.

A Greater Emphasis on User Experience

User experience (UX) has become an increasingly important factor in the publishing industry. Editors now need to be aware of user experience principles in order to create content that is easy to read and navigate.

This trend is likely to continue as users become more accustomed to using technology that provides a good user experience. In order to stay competitive, editors will need to learn how to create content that meets the expectations of today’s users.

How to Become an Editor

A career as an editor can be very rewarding. It offers the opportunity to work with a variety of content, from books and magazines to websites and blogs. You’ll also have the chance to work with a range of authors and journalists, helping them to develop their ideas and turn them into finished products.

To become an editor, you need to have excellent writing skills and be able to think critically about text. You should also be able to work independently and meet deadlines.

Related: How to Write an Editor Resume

Advancement Prospects

Most editors start out as assistant editors or editorial assistants, working under the supervision of more experienced editors. They learn the ropes of the job, such as how to select manuscripts, how to work with authors, and how to prepare manuscripts for publication. As they gain experience, they are given more responsibility and may eventually be promoted to editor.

Editors who have a strong knowledge of the publishing process, good business sense, and excellent people skills can move into management positions, such as publishing director or executive editor. Some editors become freelance editors, working from home on a contract basis for a variety of publishing firms.

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