Career Education - Learn about all careers, career pay salary, job outlook

How to Become an Editor

A college degree is typically required for someone to be an editor. Proficiency with computers and communications equipment also is necessary.

Education and Training

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. 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 experience related to that field. Fashion editors, for example, may need expertise in fashion that they get through formal training or work experience.

The ability to use computers and communications equipment is necessary for editors to stay in touch with writers and other editors and to work on the increasingly important online side of a publication. Familiarity with electronic publishing, graphics, Web design, and multimedia production is important as well, because more and more material is being read online.

Work Experience

Editors can gain experience by working on their high school and college newspapers, or for magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or not-for-profit organizations. Magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

Many editors start off as writers or reporters. For more information, see the profiles on writers and authors and reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying good stories, recognizing writing talent, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs. 


Except for copy editors, most editors hold management positions and must make decisions related to running a business. For them, advancement generally means moving up the corporate ladder or 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, be curious, and have knowledge in a broad range of topics. Some editors must regularly come up with interesting story ideas and attention-grabbing headlines.

Decision-making skills. Editors must decide if certain stories are ethical or if there is enough evidence to report them.

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

Interpersonal skills. In working with writers, editors must have tact and the ability to guide and encourage them in their work.

Language skills. Editors must ensure that all written content has correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. As a result, strong language skills are essential for an editor.

Writing skills. Editors should enjoy writing and must be excellent writers overall. They must have good knowledge of grammar and punctuation rules and be able to express ideas clearly and logically.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition