Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication. They also review story ideas and decide what material will appeal most to readers.

They work in many types of industries and may review proposals and drafts for possible publication.

Editor Job Duties

Editors typically do the following:

  • Read content and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors
  • Rewrite text to make it easier for readers to understand
  • Verify facts cited in material for publication
  • Evaluate submissions from writers to decide what to publish
  • Work with writers to help their ideas and stories succeed
  • Develop story and content ideas according to the publication’s style and editorial policy
  • Allocate space for the text, photos, and illustrations that make up a story or content
  • Approve final versions submitted by staff

Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication in books, newspapers, or periodicals or on websites.

During the review process, editors offer comments to improve the product and suggest titles and headlines.

In smaller organizations, a single editor may do all the editorial duties or share them with only a few other people.

Other Job Titles for Editor

  • Acquisitions Editor
  • Business Editor
  • Editor, Features Editor
  • Legal Editor
  • News Editor
  • Newspaper Copy Editor
  • Science Editor
  • Sports Editor
  • Web Editor

Types of Editors

Assistant Editors

These workers are responsible for a particular subject, such as local news, international news, feature stories, or sports.

Most assistant editors work for newspaper publishers, television broadcasters, magazines, book publishers, or advertising and public relations firms.

Copy Editors

They proofread text for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling and check for readability, style, and agreement with editorial policy.

They suggest revisions, such as changing words and rearranging sentences and paragraphs to improve clarity or accuracy.

They also may carry out research, confirm sources, and verify facts, dates, and statistics.

In addition, they may arrange page layouts of articles, photographs, and advertising.

Executive Editors

These editors oversee assistant editors and generally have the final say about which stories are published and how those stories are covered.

Executive editors typically hire writers, reporters, and other employees. They also plan budgets and negotiate contracts with freelance writers, who are sometimes called “stringers” in the news industry.

Although many executive editors work for newspaper publishers, some work for television broadcasters, magazines, or advertising and public relations firms.

Managing Editors

They typically work for magazines, newspaper publishers, and television broadcasters and are responsible for the daily operations of a news department.

Publication Assistants

These professionals work for book-publishing houses may read and evaluate manuscripts, proofread uncorrected drafts, and answer questions about published material.

Assistants on small newspapers or in smaller media markets may compile articles available from wire services or the Internet, answer phones, and proofread articles.

Where Editors Work

Editors 95,970 jobs as of May 2019, according to BLS.gov.

Most editors work in offices, whether onsite with their employer or from a remote location. They often use desktop or electronic publishing software, scanners, and other electronic communications equipment.

Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC— but many editors work remotely.

Overseeing and coordinating multiple writing projects simultaneously is common among editors and may lead to stress or fatigue.

Self-employed editors face the added pressures of finding work on an ongoing basis and continually adjusting to new work environments.

Work Schedules

Most editors work full time, and their schedules are generally determined by production deadlines and type of editorial position.

Editors typically work in busy offices and have to deal with production deadline pressures and the stresses of ensuring that the information they publish is correct.

As a result, editors often work many hours, especially at those times leading up to a publication deadline.

These work hours can be even more frequent when an editor is working on digital material for the Internet or for a live broadcast.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English.

Candidates with other backgrounds who can show strong writing skills also may find jobs as editors.

Editors who deal with specific subject matter may need related work experience. For example, fashion editors may need expertise in fashion that they gain through formal training or work experience.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many editors start off as editorial assistants, writers, or reporters.

Those who are particularly skilled at identifying good stories, recognizing writing talent, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

Other Experience

Editors can gain experience by working on high school and college newspapers and for magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies.

Magazines and newspapers may have offer student internships. For example, the American Society of Magazine Editors offers a Magazine Internship Program to qualified full-time students in their junior or senior year of college.

Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

Editors need to be proficient in computer use, including electronic publishing, graphics, Web design, social media, and multimedia production.

Advancement

Some editors hold management positions and must make decisions related to running a business.

For them, advancement generally means moving up to publications with larger circulation or greater prestige. Copy editors may move into original writing or substantive editing positions or become freelancers.

An Editor Job is a Good Fit For

Your O*NET Interests

An editor is categorized as an artistic job with enterprising and conventional as secondary interests.

Artistic occupations involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Enterprising jobs involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Conventional jobs involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Editor Personality Type

INFJ personality type

If your Meyers-Briggs personality type is INFJ, an editor is a must-see on your list of possible occupations.

Being an editor gives you a chance to help people get the information they want. Many introverts express themselves better through writing than speaking.

The INFJ personality type is labeled as the “Advocate” or the “Idealist.” INFJ personalities are creative, gentle, and caring. They are also great decisionmakers, something an editor should do effortlessly.

They can be reserved, but under that cool, confident veneer, they are tuned in to what others are feeling. 

You also want to understand why other people do what they do. You are conscientious and committed to your values. 

You want to work for the common good and are good at making decisions that help you achieve that goal.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Editors must be imaginative, curious, and knowledgeable in a broad range of topics. Some editors must regularly come up with interesting content or story ideas and attention-grabbing headlines.

Detail oriented. Editors must be meticulous to ensure that material is error free and matches the style of a publication.

Good judgment. Editors decide whether certain stories are ethical and whether there is enough evidence to publish them.

Interpersonal skills. In working with writers, editors must have tact and the ability to guide and encourage them in their work.

Writing skills. Editors ensure that all written content has correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Editors must be able to write clearly and logically.

How Much Editors Make

As of May 2019, the average annual salary for an editor was $73,860. Half of all editors made more than $61,370. The highest top 10% of earners made more than $120,550.

These were the industries with the most editors as of May 2019.

Industry Employment Hourly Average Wage Annual Average Wage
Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers 42,370$32.64$67,880
Other Information Services 9,740$37.92$78,880
Radio and Television Broadcasting 4,920$33.42$69,520
Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services 4,210$43.02$89,480
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 3,780$31.72$65,970
BLS.gov

Most editors work full time, and their schedules are generally determined by production deadlines and type of editorial position.

Editors typically work in busy offices and have to deal with production deadline pressures and the stresses of ensuring that the information they publish is correct.

As a result, editors often work many hours, especially at those times leading up to a publication deadline. These work hours can be even more frequent when an editor is working on digital material for the Internet or for a live broadcast.

Job Outlook is Declining

Employment of editors is projected to decline 3 percent from 2018 to 2028. Despite some job growth in online media, decreases in traditional print magazines and newspapers will cause a decline in overall employment of editors.

Job Prospects

Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong because employment in the publishing industry is projected to decline.

Editors who have adapted to online media and are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools will have the best prospects in finding work.

Although the way in which people consume media has changed, editors will continue to add value by reviewing and revising drafts and keeping the style and voice of a publication consistent.

More Information

American Copy Editors Society

American Society of Magazine Editors

Association of Alternative Newsmedia

Radio Television Digital News Association

Job description and industry statistics are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Editors.