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Companies that produce content for publications often need a copy editor to evaluate stories and other content to make sure they're grammatically correct. They check for typographical errors, etc. As a copy editor, you are to proofread text and correct spelling and punctuation errors. You must verify that the facts of the information are correct, such as dates and statistics. In addition, you are to rewrite text to enhance readability and clarity.

No formal training is required to be a copy editor. While it is not necessary to acquire a degree to be qualified for this role, employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, or English. Generally, copy editors have a very firm grasp of the English language. They are detailed and have sharp eyes. You must be creative and have good judgment. Your median earning per year should be around $58,870.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a copy editor. For example, did you know that they make an average of $26.06 an hour? That's $54,207 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow -3% and produce -3,400 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Copy Editor Do

There are certain skills that many copy editors have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed creativity, detail oriented and good judgment.

Learn more about what a Copy Editor does

How To Become a Copy Editor

If you're interested in becoming a copy editor, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 82.9% of copy editors have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 8.8% of copy editors have master's degrees. Even though most copy editors have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a copy editor. When we researched the most common majors for a copy editor, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on copy editor resumes include associate degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a copy editor. In fact, many copy editor jobs require experience in a role such as editor. Meanwhile, many copy editors also have previous career experience in roles such as internship or reporter.

Copy Editor Career Paths

Average Salary for a Copy Editor

Copy Editors in America make an average salary of $54,207 per year or $26 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $101,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $28,000 per year.
Average Copy Editor Salary
$54,207 Yearly
$26.06 hourly
$28,000
10 %
$54,000
Median
$101,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Copy Editor Education

Copy Editor Majors

26.3 %

Copy Editor Degrees

Bachelors

82.9 %

Masters

8.8 %

Associate

4.8 %

Top Colleges for Copy Editors

1. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

3. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

4. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

5. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,399
Enrollment
7,356

6. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

7. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

9. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

10. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

Top Skills For a Copy Editor

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 7.9% of copy editors listed news stories on their resume, but soft skills such as creativity and detail oriented are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Copy Editor Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Copy Editor templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Copy Editor resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Copy Editor Demographics

Copy Editor Gender Distribution

Female
Female
61%
Male
Male
39%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among copy editors, 60.8% of them are women, while 39.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among copy editors is White, which makes up 77.0% of all copy editors.

  • The most common foreign language among copy editors is Spanish at 43.1%.

Online Courses For Copy Editor That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Content Writing & Copy Writing For SEO and Sales
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Content Writing, Copy Editing, Proofreading and Copy Writing - Freelance Writing for SEO Copywriting and Sales...

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Learn how to start or add editing to your freelance offerings!...

Kickstart a Freelance Editor & Proofreader Career on Upwork
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The Complete Guide to Satisfying Clients and Growing Your Freelancing Business...

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Best States For a Copy Editor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a copy editor. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Copy editors make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $81,246. Whereas in New Jersey and New Hampshire, they would average $80,332 and $79,687, respectively. While copy editors would only make an average of $77,271 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. District of Columbia

Total Copy Editor Jobs:
222
Highest 10% Earn:
$144,000
Location Quotient:
5.18 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Copy Editor Jobs:
197
Highest 10% Earn:
$140,000
Location Quotient:
0.97 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New York

Total Copy Editor Jobs:
800
Highest 10% Earn:
$127,000
Location Quotient:
2.44 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Copy Editors

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Top Copy Editor Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ copy editors and discovered their number of copy editor opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Salesforce was the best, especially with an average salary of $77,922. New York Daily News follows up with an average salary of $54,207, and then comes Surge Staffing with an average of $41,140. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a copy editor. The employers include Amazon, Lowe's Companies, and ICF

Most Common Employers For Copy Editor

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Salesforce$77,922$37.4654
2Dow Jones$66,970$32.2033
3John Wiley & Sons$66,340$31.8921
4Gannett$61,996$29.8134
5Hearst$60,308$28.9917
6The New York Times Company$59,784$28.7420
7McGraw Hill$58,965$28.3519
8Leaf Group$58,248$28.0031
9The Washington Post$57,892$27.8317
10Bleacher Report$57,818$27.8031

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Becoming a Copy Editor FAQs

Can I make a living as a copy editor?

Yes, you can make a living as a copy editor. Some copy editing jobs pay well, like at publishing houses, media companies, or companies that create manuals and large documents. Working as a copy editor for a small newspaper or even freelancing may not be as lucrative. It all depends on where you work.

Do you need a degree to be a copy editor?

No, you do not need a degree to be a copy editor. However, most publishing houses or newspapers require a bachelor's degree in journalism, English, or communications. In some cases, having enough work or project experience can help someone without a degree land an entry-level position or pick up work as a freelance copy editor.

How much do copy editors make?

Copy editors make, on average, $47,000 a year ($23.06 an hour). However, there is some range in how much a copy editor can make - starting from as little as $31,000 to $72,000 a year. Factors such as location and industry impact how much a copy editor can make.

What is the difference between a proofreader and a copy editor?

The difference between a proofreader and a copy editor is in the scope of the editing process. Copy editing, for example, is about making sure a text is clear, readable, and error-free, whereas proofreading is about correcting errors in a "proof" version of a typeset text.

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