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If you’re good with words, a role as an editor might be for you. These media and communication professionals get written material ready for publication in a book, magazine or newspaper or on a website. They may be involved in every part of the content creation process, from the big-picture planning of stories to the detail-oriented task of proofreading text.
Editors have different roles depending on the industries they work in, the type of publication they work for and their specific job titles. Some editors, particularly those at larger publications and organizations, may fulfill very specific roles. However, others handle a wide range of editing tasks.
At the start of the writing process, an editor may determine what stories the publication will tell and how it will go about telling that story. This includes the target audience for the story and the writing style the author will use. The editor may work closely with writers, guiding them to meet these editorial goals. Once an article or manuscript is written, the editor will review it. An editor assesses whether the publication should print the piece and what changes the writer will need to make to it. The editor may look for grammatical and stylistic mistakes, factual inaccuracies and awkward or confusing language. Some editors write content for the publication or organization themselves, while others focus exclusively on reviewing and improving the writing of others.
Having a good eye for catching mistakes and the creativity to flesh out a story idea can make you a good candidate for a career in editing. However, your natural writing and proofreading skills will only get you so far. To attain an editor position – particularly one with a distinguished publication – you’ll need a formal college education.
Most editors start with a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as English, communications, journalism or writing. In these degree programs, students learn appropriate writing practices for different forms of written communications. They may learn about the principles of ethical journalism and about literary and rhetorical devices. Having real-world experience writing and editing content can be very valuable for aspiring editors. You can gain this experience through internships with media companies or publishing houses, or even by participating in high school and college newspapers and magazines.
Editors make a median salary of $56,010 per year, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The highest paid editors typically work in the scientific and technical services industry or in religious, grantmaking, civic and professional organizations, according to the BLS. Fewer people are reading print media than ever, resulting in an expected decline in the number of editor positions available, the BLS reported. However, online publications and websites still need someone to write and edit content. Current and aspiring editors who are flexible and adjust well to electronic forms of communication can still find opportunities for success in this career, even if traditional editing roles are on the decline.
Editor is a creative career that won’t require you to be a starving artist. Today’s editors play an important role in the creation of written content. They don’t just proofread final drafts of copy but instead shape the stories a publication features and the storytelling strategies it uses.