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How to Become a Editor

Everyone has that one friend who is always correcting their grammar. If you are that friend, you should learn how to become an editor. Being able to work a job that pays you to use your natural skills and eliminate your pet peeves—who could ask for more?

What Is an Editor?

Editors are hired for a variety of work, typically written, to review and make necessary changes. You will often hear of newspaper and magazine editors, but there are also editors for books, website articles, and even film editors.

What Does an Editor Do?

Fact-Checks Writing

Articles written for newspapers, academic journals, and many websites often include facts. An editor will be tasked with reviewing any factual statements made throughout the article to ensure they are correct and cannot be deemed false information.

Corrects Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

Editors read through written work and make any spelling and grammar changes necessary. When writers get into their work, it is quite common for them to mistakenly skip a word or spell a few things wrong and not notice. Editors take the time to notice and correct these small mistakes.

Ensures Work is in Correct Style and Format

Many companies hire writers to write articles in a specific style and format. Since every writer has their own unique style, it can sometimes be difficult to switch it up to meet their employer’s expectations, so editors are charged with ensuring articles are written correctly.

Essential Editor Skills

Works Well with Others

Editors often have to point out to writers what mistakes they have made, and if the editor is not a good team player, this can be a difficult process. Any time you have to point out someone’s mistakes, doing so with a team mindset is tactful and respectful.

Excellent English Skills

To properly edit written work in English, an editor must be proficient in the English language. Without extensive knowledge of grammatical rules, word spellings, and appropriate punctuation, an editor will be left unable to truly edit.

Organized and Thorough

Editors must be able to organize writing if it is unorganized and they have to be extremely thorough when editing. Any mistakes that an editor misses will be published in the final draft, so it is important to pay attention to the small details to avoid missing anything.

Editor Salaries and Job Outlook

Editors can earn anywhere from $32,620 per year to $122,280 per year. The national average in 2019 was $61,370 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the highest salary, editors are recommended to work full-time and in an office rather than from home.

Due to decreased printing of physical magazines and newspapers, the employment of editors is expected to decline seven percent by 2029. However, there is good news for those hoping to get an online editing job. Employment for online and media positions is expected to grow three percent by 2029, which means the profession is not dying out quite yet.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Editor?

To become an editor, there are two paths you can take. Many people decide to go into freelance editing and just begin immediately, while others plan further ahead and decide to earn a degree. 

Due to the drastic difference between these paths, it can take anywhere from just a few weeks to more than four years to become an editor. It all depends on which route you choose to take.

How to Become an Editor: A Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (optional)

Editors do not have to go to college. However, earning a degree can make you appear more experienced and therefore, more employable. Especially if you intend to do freelance editing work, having a degree in English or journalism can significantly enhance your employment opportunities.

While you can absolutely pursue a doctorate, it is unnecessary. If you do decide to pursue a degree to become an editor, a bachelor's degree is the most common recommendation, as this often already puts you well ahead of the competition.

Step 2: Complete an Internship

If you can find an internship, this is a great way to build your experience and portfolio as an editor. You can certainly find jobs with no experience, but you will be more likely to find work if you can provide a portfolio of your past work.

If you earn a degree, you can often find internship opportunities through your college. Many colleges have student-run newspapers or newsletters you can work for, while others have programs to find students internship positions.

Step 3: Advance Your Career

After earning a degree and building your portfolio, the only thing left to do is advance your career. There are many ways to do this, whether it be applying for higher positions or earning accreditations. Taking on bigger projects can help you earn publicity and higher job positions.

You may be thinking about starting as a freelance editor at this point. This can also be a great way to advance your career, as it puts you more in charge of your schedule and projects.

Should You Become an Editor in 2020?

While editing positions may be becoming harder to find, there are still plenty of them out there. If a career in editing is your goal or even a stepping stone toward your goal, we say go for it.


How do you become a freelance editor?
You can become a freelance editor by marketing your services on freelance websites and by applying to freelance editing jobs.
Can you become an editor without a degree?
Absolutely. Many editors do not have degrees and many do. It is up to your preferences.
Is editing a good job?
Editing is a good job for anyone who enjoys writing, reading, and correcting grammatical mistakes.
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