Do you spot typos in text messages, on menus, and just about any other place that features words? Well, you might just have a budding editor career on your hands. A love for words is obviously important for successful editors, but there are other skills you can work on to become a sought-after editor. But first, you need to be able to answer: What does an editor do? Let’s dive in.
What Do Editors Do? An Editor Job Description
Editors ensure the quality of written content for a publication, organization, or business. There are a few different kinds of editing—copy editing, content editing, and proofreading are the biggest ones. Most editors don’t do all of these things, at least all at once. Instead, a publication or organization will have an editor and a copy editor, or a similar combination of junior and senior editors, and a content editing process before publication.
Content editing is when an editor will make the biggest changes—it’s the most substantial editing round. An editor will look at the piece as a whole and ensure the format makes sense and that the content accurately reflects the title or purpose of the piece. An editor tasked with content editing will add questions or comments or rewrite parts of the content in order for it to flow better or make more sense to the intended audience.
Content editing is typically the first round of editing, followed by copy editing, and then proofreading.
It’s common for copy editing and proofreading to be conflated, but they’re actually two different functions. Copy editing requires an editor to check the content for grammar, punctuation, style, and spelling errors. A copy editor will revise as needed to fit the style and tone of the publication or business, which includes removing jargon or extra, unnecessary words.
Proofreading is when an editor reads through the final (or almost final) version of the content for any lurking errors from previous rounds of editing. When proofreading, an editor won’t suggest major changes. Instead, they will fix things like typos, stray commas, and other similar mistakes.
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How to Become an Editor
While many editors have a degree of some sort, these days, it’s not always a necessity. Internships and other related work experience could take the place of a degree. Or, you could take editorial courses or English courses to supplement your skills.
Editor Education Requirements
If you’re going to college to become an editor, you will likely earn a degree in English, a degree in communications, or a degree in journalism, as most colleges don’t have a dedicated editor degree. While each of the programs has a different focus, some with a specific editor course or two, you’ll come away from any of them with written and verbal communication skills—two major editor job requirements.
You don’t necessarily need a degree in English, communications, or journalism to become an editor. Instead, you can showcase your reading and writing skills and grammar prowess through work experience. Work on your college newspaper, apply for an internship at a local publication, or freelance for the communications department of a company. This type of experience will help you hone your editing skills in a professional environment and make it easier to land an editor job.
How to Learn SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key component of any digital editor job. SEO is defined as improving the quality and quantity of website traffic from search engines. So, in layman’s terms, it’s about driving more people to a specific website by using words that people search.
SEO is nuanced, so take a beginner’s course to nail down the basics if you’re unfamiliar with it. That way, when applying for an editorial job, you can confidently say that you understand SEO.
Average Editors Salary
Now that we’ve covered how to be an editor, let’s talk numbers. The average editor salary in the U.S. is roughly $71,000 annually, according to Salary.com. However, as with any field or industry, that number can vary widely based on location, experience, level, and other factors.
Chief Editor Salary
Editors-in-chief tend to make between $80,000 and $94,000 per year.
Assistant Editor Salary
As an assistant editor, your salary range will likely fall between $36,000 and $48,000 per year.
Managing Editor Salary
As a managing editor, you’re likely to make between $88,000 and $120,000 per year.
Senior Editor Salary
Senior editors make between $77,000 and $97,000 per year.
Executive Editor Salary
Similar to a managing editor, an executive editor makes between $88,000 and $110,000 per year on average.
Editorial jobs come in all shapes and sizes. You could be a book editor, a magazine editor, or a website editor. You could work for a publication, a publishing company, a business, or a brand. You could specialize in just about any industry that interests you, from fashion to science and everything in between.
To find an editor job that suits you, think about what you like to learn about or an industry you love. Then, consider whether you’d like to work for a more traditional publication, a modern media company, or a brand that has an editorial department. It can be hard to choose with so many options, but narrowing it down to your personal interests can help.
Jobs for Freelance Editors
When you’re starting out, securing a few freelance editor jobs can be a great way to learn what type of editing you like, what industries interest you, and what kind of company you’d like to work for. They can also be easier to land because the commitment level for the company is lower than hiring for a full-time editor.
Jobs for Remote Editors
Because you only need a computer and a decent internet connection to edit, remote editor jobs aren’t as hard to come by as jobs in other industries. Freelance editing jobs, specifically, tend to be very remote-friendly.
How to Find an Editorial Job
As with any job search, start with your network—reach out to someone you know in the industry or contact a former professor or co-worker. If you come up empty, you can always send a connection request on LinkedIn to someone you’d like to work with.
Then start applying to positions and doing research on companies you’re interested in. Freelance websites like Upwork and Fiverr also have a plethora of jobs for editors (just beware of scams or low wages).
So, with these tips in hand, go tackle the editorial world! You’ll be well on your way to landing the editor job of your dreams.
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