Publishing Careers

Career Snapshot

  • Most writers working within the publishing industry are either editors or proofreaders.
  • There are various types of editors, e.g., managing, assistant, line, copy, etc.)
  • Proofreaders see content after it has gone through the editing process.
  • Most editing jobs require a degree in English, journalism, or communications.
  • Most proofreading jobs may also require the candidate to have a degree. In some cases, however, demonstrable proficiency in proofreading may lead to contract or freelance.
  • As of 2018, the median pay for editors was $59, 480, and the median pay for $39, 140.
  • The number of fulltime editing jobs are expected to decline by 3 percent between 2018 and 2028. No statistics are available for proofreading jobs.

Job Details

  • Managing editors work with content at a very high level, i.e., deciding which content to include and how it will be published. They rely on other editors (copy and line) and proofreaders to deliver the final product. They may also be responsible for hiring other members of the editorial team. In large organizations, assistant editors may be responsible for particular subject areas while the managing editor oversees all publications.
  • Copy editors ensure the content meets style and readability requirements and conforms to the editorial policy of the organization. Copy editors should also ensure any required fact checking is completed.
  • Line editors focus on the writing style of the content and may proofread content as part of their editing. In some organizations with a more streamlined editorial staff, line and copy editing may be done by the same person.
  • Editors are often expected to discuss suggested changes with the writers who produced the content. This role requires that the editor be able to provide constructive feedback in a diplomatic way.
  • Generally speaking, editors must be detail oriented and have a broad knowledge base since they will review content on a variety of topics.
  • Proofreaders see content after it has gone through the editing process. Proofreaders are the “last set of eyes” before publication, and it is their job to find and correct errors all grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. The work requires great attention to detail and can become tedious over long periods.
  • Editors and proofreaders are employed by all publishing industries, including newspaper, magazine, book, etc. They are also employed by large organizations who publish content related to a product or function, e.g., government agencies, educational institutions, etc.
  • With the increase in the number of self-published or indie authors, a new industry has evolved to offer functions normally provided by traditional publishers. The companies offer services including book marketing, cover design, line and story editing, and proofreading. These companies are generally staffed by freelance editors and proofreaders since the demand for the services can vary.
  • Fulltime editors and proofreaders may be required to work at their employer’s location, but increasingly companies are allowing staff to work remotely. Freelance editors and proofreaders work also entirely remotely.
  • With tight publishing deadlines, especially for online content, editing and proofreading jobs can include long hours and fast turnaround times.

Education and Experience

  • Most editing jobs require a degree in English, journalism, or communications and several years of experience.
  • Most proofreading jobs also require the candidate to have a degree. In some cases, however, demonstrable proficiency in proofreading may lead to contract or freelance work.
  • College students hoping to find work as editors should pursue internships to gain experience.
  • Some editors come from a writing background. A strong portfolio of writing samples can help secure an editing position.

Career Outlook

  • As of 2018, the median pay for editors was $59, 480, and the median pay for $39, 140.
  • The number of fulltime editing jobs are expected to decline by 3 percent between 2018 and 2028. No statistics are available for proofreading jobs.
  • Editors and proofreaders may see more openings in the freelance marketplace than with traditional publishers.


Professional Organizations and Related Links

American Copy Editors Society (ACES) is the nation’s leading organization of editing professionals, educators, and students. They are dedicated to improving the quality of the written word and the working lives of editors and set standards of excellence and give a voice to editors in journalism, government, business, and beyond through top-notch training, networking, and career opportunities.

American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) is comprised of full-time and freelance editors, writers, and graphic designers employed in the business, trade, and specialty press. ASBPE is exclusively an association of professional editors, writers, freelancers, graphic artists and art directors who work for business magazines and their associated web sites. Their central focus is helping members develop their editorial, design and management skills, which will enhance their performance and prepare them to play larger roles in their publishing organizations.

American Society of News Editors (ASNE) The American Society of News Editors focuses on leadership development and journalism-related issues. Founded in 1922 as a nonprofit professional organization, ASNE promotes fair, principled journalism, defends and protects First Amendment rights, and fights for freedom of information and open government. Leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion in coverage and the journalism work force, opinion journalism, news literacy and the sharing of ideas are also key ASNE initiatives.

Associated Press Media Editors (APME) advances the principles and practices of responsible journalism. They support and mentor a diverse network of current and emerging newsroom leaders and champion the First Amendment. They train journalists and promote forward-looking ideas that benefit news organizations and the communities they serve. They work closely with the Associated Press, the largest independent media operation in the world.

Association of Art Editors is dedicated to advancing and setting standards for art editors and to provide a forum for the exchange of information among art editors. The association also provides authors with information about editing and publishing procedures and lists job opportunities for editors (both institutional and freelance).

Association of Magazine Media (MPA) is the national trade association for the consumer magazine media industry. MPA is a powerful, unified voice for its members. MPA members represent over 500 magazine media brands that span a vast range of genres across online, mobile, video and print media. MPA members are diverse, including a broad range of magazine media companies, from large global media companies to small independent journals.

Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) was founded in 1991 to evaluate the proficiency of manuscript editors in the life sciences and to award credentials similar to those obtainable in other professions. BELS developed a process for testing and evaluating proficiency in order to certify editors in the field.

Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a UK-based non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. They set and demonstrate editorial standards and provide a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals.

Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) is a pioneer in organizing freelancers into a network for mutual support and advancement. The EFA is now recognized throughout the publishing industry as the source for professional editorial assistance. And as editorial freelancing—indeed, freelancing in many fields of endeavor— becomes more prevalent, the EFA is a valuable resource for authors seeking qualified professionals to work with them. Members are part of the largest and oldest national professional organization of editorial freelancers.

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources. IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country. Programs of IRE include the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting.

Professional Editors Network (PEN) is a nonprofit association of editors, writers, proofreaders, indexers, and other publishing professionals. For members, we provide opportunities to develop and share knowledge, exchange job leads, market services, and grow professionally. For those looking to hire, PEN’s searchable member directory is an easy way to find the right editorial professional. PEN are based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but have members located throughout the United States.

Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) is an independent, non-profit organization that encourages comprehensive reporting of economic events without fear or favoritism and strives to increase members’ skills and knowledge through continuous education.

World Association of Medical Writers (WAME) is a nonprofit voluntary association of editors of peer-reviewed medical journals from countries throughout the world who seek to foster international cooperation among and education of medical journal editors. Membership in WAME is free and all decision-making editors of peer-reviewed medical journals are eligible to join. Membership is also available to selected scholars in journal editorial policy and peer review. WAME has more than 1830 members representing more than 1000 journals from 92 countries (as of July 27, 2017).

College Major in Publishing - A program that focuses on the process of managing the creation, publication, and distribution of print and electronic books and other text products and prepares individuals to manage the editorial, technical, and business aspects of publishing operations. Includes instruction in product planning and design, editing, author relations, business and copyright law, publishing industry operations, contracting and purchasing, product marketing, electronic publishing and commerce, history of publishing, and professional standards and ethics.