Editors

Summary

editors image
Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication.
Quick Facts: Editors
2014 Median Pay $54,890 per year
$26.39 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 117,200
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -5% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -6,200

What Editors Do

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Work Environment

Although most editors work in offices, a growing number now work remotely from home. The work can be stressful because editors often have tight deadlines.

How to Become an Editor

Proficiency with computers and a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English are typically required to become an editor.

Pay

The median annual wage for editors was $54,890 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of editors is projected to decline 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, as print media continue to face strong pressure from online publications. Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for editors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of editors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about editors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Editors Do

Editors
Editors constantly work under pressure to meet deadlines.

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

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 using standard reference sources
  • 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
  • Approve final versions submitted by staff

Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication in books, newspapers, magazines, or websites. Editors review story ideas and decide what material will appeal most to readers. During the review process, editors offer comments to improve the product, and suggest titles and headlines. In smaller organizations, a single editor may perform all of the editorial duties or share them with only a few other people.

The following are examples of types of editors:

Copy editors review 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 for writers, and verify facts, dates, and statistics. In addition, they may arrange page layouts of articles, photographs, and advertising.

Publication assistants who work for book-publishing houses may read and evaluate manuscripts submitted by freelance writers, 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.

Assistant editors 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.

Executive editors oversee assistant editors and generally have the final say about what stories are published and how they 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 typically work for magazines, newspaper publishers, and television broadcasters, and are responsible for the daily operations of a news department.

Work Environment

Editors
Editors usually work full time in offices.

Editors held about 117,200 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most editors were as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 44%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 8
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 8
Educational services; state, local, and private 5

Although most editors work in offices, a growing number now work remotely from home. They often use desktop or electronic publishing software, scanners, and other electronic communications equipment to produce their material.

Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities are allowing editors to work from a greater variety of locations.

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

Freelance 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 the 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 accurate. 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.

How to Become an Editor

editors image
A college degree is typically required for someone to be an editor.

A bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English, combined with previous writing and proofreading experience, is typically required to be an editor.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. They also prefer candidates with mass- or cross-media experience.

Those with other backgrounds who can show strong writing skills also may find jobs as editors. Editors who deal with specific subject matter may need previous 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 also can gain experience by working on high school and college newspapers, and for magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. Magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. 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.

The ability to use computers is necessary for editors to stay in touch with writers and other editors and to work on the increasingly important digital media or online side of a publication. Familiarity with electronic publishing, graphics, Web design, and multimedia production is also important, because more content is being offered online.

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.

Important Qualities

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

Detail oriented. One of an editor’s main tasks is to make sure that material is error free and matches the style of a publication.

Good judgment. Editors must decide if certain stories are ethical or if there is enough evidence to report 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 must ensure that all written content has correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Editors must be able to write clearly and logically.

Pay

Editors

Median annual wages, May 2014

Editors

$54,890

Media and communication workers

$52,370

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for editors was $54,890 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $109,940.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for editors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations $58,770
Professional, scientific, and technical services 57,020
Educational services; state, local, and private 54,790
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 53,320

Most editors work full time, and their schedules are generally determined by production deadlines and the 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 accurate. 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

Editors

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication workers

4%

Editors

-5%

 

Employment of editors is projected to decline 5 percent from 2014 to 2024 as print media continues to face strong pressure from online publications.

Despite some job growth for editors in online media, the number of traditional editing jobs in print newspapers and magazines is declining and will temper employment growth.

Job Prospects

Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong because the publishing industry is projected to decline in employment. Editors who have adapted to online media and are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools will have an advantage in finding work. Although the way in which people consume media is changing, editors will continue to add value by reviewing and revising drafts and keeping the style and voice of a publication consistent.

Employment projections data for editors, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Editors

27-3041 117,200 111,000 -5 -6,200 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of editors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Radio and television announcers

Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these or other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

See How to Become One $29,010
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Bachelor's degree $37,200
Technical writers

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

Bachelor's degree $69,030
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for advertisements, books, magazines, movie and television scripts, songs, blogs, or other types of media.

Bachelor's degree $58,850
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Editors,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/editors.htm (visited February 07, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015