Editor: Executive Summary

Find a writer, help shape the product, and enjoy the rush of seeing your idea get published.

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It's a vision thing: Come up with an idea that's right for your book publisher, magazine, newspaper, or website. Then, find a writer, help shape the product, and enjoy the rush of seeing your idea get published. Plus, you can give yourself an assignment every now and then and achieve what most writers dream about: writing what you want and knowing it will get published.

In addition to the ability to write well and quickly, you'll need the skills of a diplomat, too, to be assertive yet tactful when dealing with powerful publishers and know-it-all writers. And it's not just about words—you'll also have to learn about the technology and business of publishing. If you have all those skills, however, editing can be a career to write home about.

But be patient. It can be a long road toward that kind of autonomy. A typical path might include being an editorial assistant for a year, during which you review unsolicited submissions, proofread, or fact check. Next, you might get to do some dregs writing—for example, cover the school board meeting. Gradually (or occasionally quickly if you're both good and lucky), you get some plum assignments. Do well on those, show that you can get along well with people, and you're prime material for an editorship. Progress will probably be faster if you're working for a website or local publication.

Median Pay

National: $56,200. More pay data by metropolitan area

(Data provided by PayScale.com)

Training

There are many exceptions, but a bachelor's in journalism, English, or communication is the most typical route in. Be sure your writing and proofreading skills are strong. If, like many college graduates, you didn't get enough feedback on your writing in college, hire a pro to review your efforts—ruthlessly. Then, and forever, read, read, read! You'll see different versions of good writing and editing, and stay current—critical for an editor.

Smart Specialties

  • Website Editor. This can be enjoyable because most Web articles are short, so you're able to turn out lots of new stuff and learn something new each time. And there's more space than in a newspaper or magazine, which means you're free to publish in-depth pieces, too. With more content moving online, demand for Web editors should be relatively strong.
  • TV and Radio News Editor. You edit the words that on-air newscasters read. It's fast-paced and fun to see or hear the words you produced being broadcast.

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