How to Become an Editor

Those Good With Words and an Eye for Detail Make Excellent Editors

Female working with laptop at home woman's hands on

It takes a keen eye for detail to be an editor, whether it's for a print or an online publication, and those who have a way with words might find it to be just the right career path. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't project growth for this occupation over the next 10 years, there are opportunities for skilled editors.

Job Description

At the base level, editors are tasked with reading content, ensuring that spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct and verifying facts. Depending on what a particular job requires, an editor might come up with story ideas to assign to writers, then review and revise that text to bring it in line with the company's editorial standards—making sure, above all, that it will be clear to the readers. They often work with art directors or web managers to publish the story in print or online.

Over the past decade, it has become increasingly important for editors to translate print stories to web content, as well as to promote them on social media networks.

Education Requirements

Editors are often expected to have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree. While it can vary, it's common for an editor to have studied communication, journalism or English. A master's degree in similar fields can be obtained, but isn't necessary.

Those who specialize in an editorial niche, such as fashion or food, might find it beneficial to have formal education or work experience in that field.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slightly less than 40 percent of editors were employed at a newspaper, periodical, or book or directory publisher in 2016. Another 20 percent were self-employed, while 8 percent worked at a religious, civic, grant-making or professional organization. Editors can also work for such entities as corporate communications departments and nonprofits.

Years of Experience

The range of pay for an editor depends on position and work experience. Copy editors and assistant editors often rank as entry-level jobs. The former perform proofreading of text and fact verification, while the latter often assign stories in a particular subject and write stories for a publication.

As the years go by, an editor can advance into positions such as associate editor, senior editor, managing editor, editorial director and executive editor.

The median annual wage for an editor in 2016 was a little more than $57,000. Those who work for professional, scientific or technical services typically made the most at $63,920, while newspaper and other print publication editors generally made the least at $54, 510.

Job Growth Trend

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, in the coming years, the employment of editors will show little change. The number of traditional editing positions in newspapers and magazines is shrinking, and there's only minimal increase in positions for online editors, as well as for those in other industries.