Jobs in Magazine Publishing: Job Options and Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Those interested in a career in magazine publishing may opt to work as a writer, editor, or advertising sales agent. A bachelor's degree is typically required, and the recommended major may depend on which area one plans to enter. Writers and editors usually study English, journalism, communications or a related subject, while advertising sales agents study business, marketing, or advertising.

Career Information at a Glance

The magazine publishing industry includes many types of jobs, including both creative and technical positions. Editorial positions are the most obvious, but other departments enable the magazine to earn income. This article highlights a few of the positions available in the magazine publishing industry.

Writers Editors Advertising Sales Agents
Required Education Bachelor's degree in English, journalism, communications, liberal arts or a related field Bachelor's degree in English, journalism, communications, liberal arts or a related field Bachelor's degree in advertising, marketing communications and business
Other Requirements Writing for publications for school and internships are preferred Proficiency in spelling and grammar, previous editing experience On-the-job training
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029)* -2% -7% -6%
Median Salary (2020)* $67,120 $63,400 $54,940

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Employees that work in the editorial department of a magazine are responsible for the articles, stories and text that appear in each issue. Writers may be staff employees or hired as freelancers. Editors on a magazine's staff that perform various duties according to their field of specialty. In addition, magazines aren't just produced by those working on the content - advertising sales agents have important responsibilities as well.


Writers may pitch article ideas to editors or editors may assign them stories to cover. They then create original content depending on the magazine's voice and genre. This includes hard news, profiles, in-depth features, personal essays, opinion articles and reader-service articles.

Before writing an article, writers conduct background research. They may also seek out people to provide expertise on the article topic and interview them. They write multiple drafts before their article is published. Because an increasing number of magazines are shifting to the Internet, magazine writers need technological skills for multimedia platforms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors in all industries held about 131,200 positions as of 2019. Positions are expected to decline by 2% between 2019 and 2029. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for writers and authors was $62,170 as of May 2020.

Job Requirements

Magazine writers often have a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, communications, liberal arts or a related field. Alternatively, they can major in a specific subject that they want to write about. Working on school publications and obtaining internships while in college may help students gain professional experience and develop a portfolio while they gain insight into the inner-workings of the business side of a professional publication.


An editor-in-chief is in charge of what ultimately gets published. He or she decides on the content, style, editorial policy and design. The managing editor oversees the day-to-day operations, and lower-level editors report to this person. Associate editors may assign articles to writers or approve article ideas. They work with writers when they need guidance and review final drafts. Editors in the U.S., across all fields, held approximately 118,700 jobs as of 2019. The BLS predicts that editor positions will decrease by 7% between 2019 and 2029. The annual median salary for editors as of 2020 was $63,400, reports the BLS.

Editors supervise the entire publication process. They may verify quotes, statistics, dates and names within each article, unless this role belongs to a copyeditor or proofreader. Editors may also be responsible for making sure budgets are maintained and deadlines are met. Before each issue goes to press, the editor reviews, approves or requests changes to the magazine's content.

Job Requirements

Editors are proficient at spelling and grammar and typically have at least a bachelor's degree. Most employers require them to have previous editing or writing experience. They may start out as entry-level copyeditors who check facts, do research, copyedit and perform clerical tasks. Editors are able to recognize a good story idea, work well with writers and distinguish good writing abilities. Editors have management positions; they must be capable of making good decisions and have strong business skills.

Advertising Sales Agent

Advertising sales agents are responsible for reigning in the magazine's major source of income: advertisement revenue. They use demographic information regarding the magazine's readership and approach businesses that would appeal to those readers. Advertising sales agents also gather background information about the business, including product information, current customers, potential customers and the target market's geographic area. They use this information to put together sales pitches to present to potential advertisers to convince them that advertising with the magazine would bring them more business.

After setting up a contract, the advertising sales agent becomes the contact person for any concerns regarding the advertisement's development. They also keep in touch with clients so they continue purchasing more advertisements. In addition to the typical print advertisements, advertising sales agents may sell multimedia advertisement packages. They also communicate with the editorial staff to ensure that content matches advertising potential and ad placement meets advertiser approval.

According to the BLS, there were 139,200 advertising sales agents as of 2019, and positions are expected to decrease by 6% between 2019 and 2029. The BLS reports that advertising sales agents made an annual median salary of $54,940 as of May 2020.

Job Requirements

Because advertising sales agents constantly meet and interact with clients, most employers prefer candidates with a college degree, states the BLS. Majors such as advertising, marketing communications and business may be beneficial for advertising sales agents. Most training occurs on the job under the guidance of experienced sales manager.

Employees in the magazine publishing industry can include the writers who produce content for publication, which may involve researching a subject, interviewing witnesses or experts, and writing articles. Editors determine which articles will be published and review content to identify errors or make suggestions about how to alter the content to make it more effective, while advertising sales agents sell ad space and build a publication profile to appeal to potential advertisers. All of these careers require a bachelor's degree.

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