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Become A Copy Editor

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Working As A Copy Editor

  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $61,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Copy Editor Do

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.

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How To Become A Copy 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.

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Copy Editor Career Paths

Copy Editor
Editor Owner Marketing Director
Brand Director
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Project Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Digital Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Editor Public Relations Manager Manager Of Corporate Communications
Director, Corporate Communications
10 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Project Manager Marketing Director
Vice President Of Marketing & Communications
12 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Technical Writer Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Manager Public Relations Director
Media Relations Director
5 Yearsyrs
News Editor Writer And Editor Staff Writer
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Marketing Manager Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Technical Writer Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Owner Creative Director
Digital Director
9 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Coordinator Digital Marketing Specialist
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Instructor Instructional Designer Senior Technical Writer
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Content Writer Content Manager
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Coordinator Public Relations Specialist
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Content Writer Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Social Media Manager
Manager Of Digital Media
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Senior Editor
Bureau Chief
7 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Social Media Manager
Marketing Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Producer Studio Manager Traffic Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Specialist Social Media Manager
Digital Communications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Copy Editor?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Do you work as a Copy Editor?

Copy Editor Demographics

Gender

Female

55.7%

Male

36.5%

Unknown

7.8%
Ethnicity

White

64.0%

Hispanic or Latino

13.7%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

7.2%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.1%

French

20.6%

German

7.4%

Italian

5.4%

Russian

3.4%

Japanese

3.1%

Chinese

2.4%

Mandarin

2.2%

Portuguese

2.0%

Arabic

1.9%

Korean

1.8%

Greek

1.4%

Hebrew

1.2%

Hindi

1.1%

Urdu

0.9%

Turkish

0.6%

Tagalog

0.5%

Romanian

0.3%

Gujarati

0.3%

Indonesian

0.3%
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Copy Editor Education

Schools

New York University

10.2%

University of Missouri - Columbia

8.9%

University of Texas at Austin

6.4%

Pennsylvania State University

5.5%

University of Florida

5.4%

Temple University

5.3%

Ohio State University

5.1%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Northwestern University

4.7%

Columbia University

4.5%

Syracuse University

4.4%

University of Washington

4.2%

Arizona State University

4.1%

University of Maryland - College Park

4.0%

University of Oregon

4.0%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

4.0%

University of Kansas

3.9%

Kent State University

3.7%

Emerson College

3.5%

University of California - Berkeley

3.4%
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Majors

Journalism

25.5%

English

24.0%

Communication

12.3%

Writing

8.8%

Political Science

2.9%

History

2.7%

Business

2.6%

Psychology

2.3%

Agricultural Public Services

2.2%

Public Relations

2.2%

Journalism And Mass Communications

1.9%

Fine Arts

1.8%

Law

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.5%

Marketing

1.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.4%

Education

1.2%

Linguistics

1.2%

Graphic Design

1.2%

Photography

1.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

62.0%

Masters

19.9%

Other

10.1%

Certificate

2.8%

Doctorate

2.8%

Associate

2.0%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$61,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$36,000
Min 10%
$61,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Median 50%
$61,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
The New York Times Company
Highest Paying City
Alexandria, VA
Highest Paying State
District of Columbia
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does a Copy Editor make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Copy Editor in the United States is $61,838 per year or $30 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $36,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $103,000.

Real Copy Editor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate Copy Editor News America Incorporated New York, NY Aug 15, 2011 $76,375
Copy Editor C. 2K Entertainment, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 18, 2012 $75,000
Copy Editor Vince Camuto, LLC New York, NY Jun 08, 2015 $75,000
Copy Editor Dow Jones and Company San Francisco, CA Sep 23, 2012 $71,956
Copy Editor Dow Jones and Company San Francisco, CA Jun 05, 2012 $71,956
Copy Editor Dow Jones and Company New York, NY Sep 23, 2012 $67,600
Online Copy Editor Daily News, L.P. New York, NY Sep 09, 2015 $65,000
Copy Editor, Editorial Partnership Guardian News & Media LLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2015 $63,419
Copy Editor Dow Jones & Company, Inc. New York, NY Sep 17, 2010 $63,132
Online Copy Editor Daily News, L.P. New York, NY Sep 09, 2014 $60,000
Online Copy Editor Daily News, L.P. New York, NY Sep 04, 2014 $60,000
Copy Editor WP Company LLC Washington, DC Nov 23, 2009 $55,000 -
$65,000
Copy Editor 14W Administrative Services LLC Baltimore, MD Sep 16, 2016 $50,000
Copy Editor/Translator Draftfcb, Inc. Chicago, IL Oct 01, 2009 $48,000 -
$55,000
Copy & Layout Editor-AL DIA The Dallas Morning News Dallas, TX Jun 20, 2010 $47,892
Copy Editor Queens Public Library NY Apr 04, 2016 $46,000
Copy Editor Queens Borough Public Library NY Apr 04, 2016 $46,000
Associate Copy Editor Penguin Random House LLC New York, NY Nov 01, 2016 $45,872
Associate Copy Editor Penguin Random House Inc. New York, NY Jul 12, 2015 $45,872
Copy Editor The Washington Times LLC Washington, DC Nov 06, 2009 $45,500
Copy Editor III/Systems Multimedia Inc. D/B/A The News Leader Staunton, VA Dec 09, 2014 $45,136 -
$47,000
Copy Editor Friendfinder Networks Inc. New York, NY Sep 30, 2009 $41,350 -
$50,000
Copy Editor Dahan Properties Inc. Los Angeles, CA May 25, 2015 $38,589 -
$54,512
Copy Editor Dermstore, LLC El Segundo, CA Jun 02, 2015 $38,459 -
$40,000
Copy Editor Dermstore, LLC El Segundo, CA May 05, 2015 $38,459 -
$60,000
Copy Editor Dermstore, LLC El Segundo, CA Mar 18, 2015 $38,459 -
$40,000
Copy Editor Gannett Pacific Corp. Asheville, NC Dec 17, 2009 $37,499
Copy Editor Medianews Group Salt Lake City, UT Dec 24, 2011 $36,584

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Top Skills for A Copy Editor

  1. Daily Paper
  2. News Stories
  3. Editorial Staff
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Edit, proofread copy, produce wire/roundup content and create headlines for sports section to be published in daily paper
  • Edited business/municipal news stories and lifestyle features.
  • Participated in weekly editorial staff meetings where constructive criticism and creative ideas were exchanged.
  • Copy-edited documents including coursework for online universities, K-12 resource materials developed for Disney Enterprises, and doctoral student dissertations.
  • Communicated with Account Executives and graphic designers to ensure collateral met brand standards regarding layouts, creative aspects and voice.

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Top 10 Best States for Copy Editors

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Connecticut
  4. Virginia
  5. California
  6. New Jersey
  7. New York
  8. Washington
  9. Alabama
  10. Rhode Island
  • (86 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (36 jobs)
  • (103 jobs)
  • (216 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (344 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)

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