Tips to become an editor

July 28, 2020 · 6 min read · By ASU Online
Are you a detail-oriented creator with a deep appreciation for the written word? Do you enjoy helping others hone their craft and polish their content? Becoming an editor may allow you to transform your passion for language and collaboration into a successful career. It can also provide a hands-on environment to improve your own writing. This occupation serves as a crucial link between writers and readers. It also ensures all written materials are of high quality and error-free.

Editors work with creators to polish final content. They correct grammar and syntax, remove spelling mistakes and smooth out inconsistencies. This happens during every stage of the production process. Editors often have significant input in the projects they oversee. They work to uphold their organization’s editorial standards. This is an ideal career for those who want to guide writers’ professional development and support their creative achievements.

The popularity of online content services and platforms continues to grow. So, employers in media production industries will depend on professionals with advanced writing expertise. Editors use their mastery of language to analyze print and digital resources. They ensure all assets adhere to internal guidelines on grammar usage, stylistic consistency and more. Interested in how to become a copy editor? This profession requires an analytical mind, the ability to diagnose content issues and a willingness to help writers. Editors can explain how writers can avoid errors in the future. They also often work with other production staff. These staff members include graphic artists, marketing teams and typesetters. All team members work together to complete projects on deadline.

Becoming an editor requires a diverse skill set. Job applicants must have a fusion of technical knowledge and writing experience. These skills set applicants apart from the competition during the hiring process. An online Bachelor of Arts in English can help you develop these skills. You'll gain expertise in critical reading and writing, technical editing, stylistics and sociolinguistics. These skills are essential to those seeking a long-term career in this field. English courses include advanced composition, rhetoric and grammar, and public communications. So, graduates with a BA in English can pursue full-time editing roles in several professional contexts.

Editor making notations while proofreading

A typical day in the life of an editor

Editors perform a wide range of tasks as part of their daily responsibilities. These tasks range from proofreading drafts to coordinating deadlines with production managers. In most publishing environments, the success or failure of a project hinges on effective communication. Delays in communication can hurt the workflow of all parties. This is especially true in editing and publishing careers that involve long-form materials. Long-form materials include novels, poetry collections, non-fiction works and academic journals.

Editors act as a critical link between creative staff and distribution teams. They must be able to mediate expectations and disputes. Besides managing writers, editors also engage with the content itself. This task requires time management and self-motivation. If you want to become an editor, it’s important to consider all your daily responsibilities, such as:

  • Allocating space for copy, graphics, photos and illustrations.
  • Evaluating submissions before publication approval.
  • Reading completed materials to correct spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax.
  • Rewriting flawed content if writers are unavailable.
  • Verifying claims, sources and story structure to uphold all editorial standards.
  • Working alongside authors to improve asset quality, storytelling and stylistics.


Are you curious about how to become a copy editor? It's essential to build a strong foundation in language use and reading comprehension. Professionals in this field often analyze dozens of pages per day. They also must balance their supervisory responsibilities and collaborative tasks. Editors are responsible for catching mistakes during the content creation and development processes. So, attention to detail is vital. They must work fast to remove imperfections and address organizational flaws. Though, each company has its own specific workflow.


A closer look at the professional landscape of an editor

Most editors get full-time roles in established publishing houses, online service companies, marketing agencies or media outlets. Though, there are some avenues for freelance work. The high demand for online content has created opportunities for those interested in becoming an editor. The number of job openings from 2016 to 2026 is estimated at 28,200, according to data from O*Net OnLine.

Most hiring managers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in English, communication or journalism. They also look for work experience in an editorial environment. Many employers may administer proofreading tests during the hiring process. This ensures candidates meet base-level requirements for full-time editing positions. The median salary for editors was around $59,480 in 2018, according to the BLS. Though, job seekers with relevant work histories may be able to secure higher pay.

Skills you’ll need to become an editor

Besides advanced reading and writing skills, editors generally have a variety of core traits. These traits help them support creative staff and meet strict deadlines. Editors go beyond proofreading and editing. So, it's important to consider qualities that contribute to occupational success, such as:

  • Creativity: Editors develop new content ideas and rework the copy to be more engaging, easier to read and factually accurate. They must be knowledgeable, curious and inventive. These skills enable editors to help writers streamline their ideation techniques. They can also help identify areas of improvement.
  • Patience: Working alongside diverse groups with divergent expectations can be challenging. This is especially true when interpersonal conflicts arise. Editors must remain composed while mediating disagreements between content creators and production teams. This supports interdepartmental cohesion and ensures the completion of projects on time.
  • Time management: Editing is an intensive process. It can be easy to spend hours revising a single piece of content. You must be able to focus on tasks and manage your time to become an editor. This is especially true when your schedule is full of meetings and other responsibilities.
  • Sociability: Writers are often attached to the materials they produce. So, it can be difficult to address quality issues or inconsistencies in their work. Editors must be personable and compassionate while discussing necessary revisions. Their goal is to encourage continued improvement and support creative excellence.

Learn more about the career of an editor

The ASU Online Bachelor of Arts in English can help you gain skills for editing and publishing careers. You'll develop the technical knowledge and language-based expertise to excel as an editor. You'll learn about the entire editing process, from conceptualizing to refining content projects. You'll also gain the expertise to develop print and digital materials with a focus on quality and efficiency.

For those interested in becoming an editor, the BA in English offers more areas of study. Study areas include technical editing, rhetoric and literacy, and English grammar and usage. These skills will prepare you for roles in a variety of creative environments.

In the fast-paced field of content creation, it’s important to stay competitive. You can do this by combining the right set of skills, knowledge and experience. That's why an undergraduate education is a valuable tool for achieving long-term success.


ASU Online – Online Bachelor of Arts in English
Editors by O*Net Online
Editor Salary by PayScale
How to Become an Editor for a Magazine or a Publishing Company by Houston Chronicle
Editor by Princeton Review


An editor reviews a story board.


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