Becoming a magazine editor can be a rewarding career, with opportunities to cover interesting topics and keep the public informed about recent news and trends. There are several steps to take in order to climb up the ladder to this position. Consider these steps if interested in learning how to become a magazine editor.
It takes a combination of education, skills and writing experience to become a magazine editor. A bachelor's degree in English or journalism is often the minimum requirement for this position. This career entails planning content and executing the overall style of magazine issues. Editors often work their way up from copyediting or writing positions. Some begin their writing career with internships and others gain experience as freelance writers by submitting pitches.
Magazine Editor: Essential Information
Before choosing a career, it's important to learn about the daily tasks and responsibilities that the job entails. So, what does a magazine editor do? A magazine editor is a senior-level journalist responsible for the planning and execution of issues of consumer and trade magazines. These editors choose the exact content, including written work and photos, the print or Web magazine will publish. A bachelor's degree and several years of experience working at a magazine are often required to become a magazine editor.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||-7% (for all editors)*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$56,064**|
Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.
Magazine Master Requirements
The aspiring editor should look to obtain several years of professional experience at a magazine first, especially because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that competition for entry- and senior-level editorial positions is very strong (www.bls.gov). Many editors begin their careers in entry-level fact checker or editorial assistant positions. Others complete several editorial internships, either as a student or shortly after graduation, that provide experience which could ultimately lead to a potential full-time position.
After these entry-level positions, prospective editors must then move through the magazine ranks, becoming associate or assistant editors. After gaining editorial experience, they may then be promoted to a senior-level editor, a position with greater responsibility.
Depending on the industry, one might be able to apply other relevant work experience in this career field, for example, those who worked in retail might have some knowledge of apparel and could apply that knowledge at a fashion magazine. Some writers may decide to educate themselves in specified areas in order to become familiar with the content and topics they are interested in, which may help in moving up to a magazine editor position. Some examples could include sports, finance and entertainment.
What Do Magazine Editors Major In?
According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree or higher in English, journalism or communications is required of most magazine editors. These degree programs provide training needed in writing, editing and proofreading that are essential to the position.
The BLS also reports that, although a decline in job openings is expected for all kinds of editors from 2019-2029, job prospects should be best for those with knowledge of online publishing and new media. Aspiring editors of content-specific magazines, such as fashion, business or science, should also have a strong background or formal education in relevant areas.
Most universities will have resources to assist students in building skills required to be a magazine editor, though they may not specifically have a magazine editor program. Students who are looking specifically for a magazine editor program will find that most editors major in journalism, communications or public relations. Those looking for magazine editor university courses within these majors can take classes such as web publishing, writing for public relations and editing, in which they will learn relevant skills useful for this position.
Magazine Editor Work Experience
Magazine editors are responsible for planning the content and publishing schedule of the magazine they oversee. They work with other editors, reporters, designers and writers to plan and assign stories, photos and graphics that will appeal to their audience. They also proofread material, edit stories and often supervise lower-level editors. Another important editors are often involved in is branding. Magazine editors are often the last set of eyes who read over an article before it is published, therefore, they must also be able to identify whether the content is aligned with the company's branding and image.
Some editors of qualifying U.S. print and Web magazines also choose to become members of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), an organization that offers professional development and networking services (www.magazine.org).
Magazine Editor Salary Information
According to PayScale.com, the median salary for magazine editors was $56,064 per year as of October 2020. For editors in general, which is inclusive of all magazine editor jobs, BLS reports the average salary as $61,370 as of May 2019. BLS also expects a decline of about seven percent for editors from 2019-2029. With the possibility of tight competition in this field, it's imperative to increase skills in order to stay ahead of the competition. Those aspiring to be magazine editors may consider expanding their skills in relevant areas that could be beneficial in digital publications, such as:
- Social media
- Web publishing
- Digital marketing
- Industry expert knowledge (depending on the field, i.e. finance, fashion, sports)
In summary, a career as a magazine editor could be both fun and rewarding for someone with excellent organizational and management skills, and an eye for design. Because the duties of a magazine editor can range from editing features to assigning stories to choosing the visual elements that make articles stand out, one can expect to learn various skills throughout their career. Although job opportunities are unfortunately expected to decline in the coming years, new opportunities may arise due to the transition from a print industry to a primarily online industry. With the recent digital trends and with more businesses being conducted online, job prospects could improve, with journalism potentially being one of the dominant industries in the digital realm.