How to Become a Magazine Editor

Magazine Editor Key Stats
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook -1.4%

If you have strong literacy skills, creative vision, and a great work ethic then you might like to become a magazine editor.

Editing a magazine involves far more than looking for grammar errors, an editor must constantly stay true to the central ideology of a publication, while keeping it fresh, interesting, and relevant.

Before you become a magazine editor, it is likely you will spend some time working in a publication beforehand.

An editor’s role is the top job, so you will need a bit of experience first.

Education Requirements to Become a Magazine Editor

Being a strong writer and having excellent spelling and grammar skills are all requirements to become a magazine editor.

If you’re in high school, taking English as well as other subjects in the humanities is a good idea.

If you have a school paper then you might like to contribute to, or perhaps even edit, the publication.

You will need a college degree to work as a magazine editor.

A four year bachelors degree with a major in writing, communications, or journalism would be an ideal qualification.

Most editors start their career as journalists or staff writers, while some may begin as an editorial assistant.

While you’re at college you should seek out experience on a school paper.

Also, internships are of great value.

You should try and complete one internship for each year you spend at college.

This may even lead to a full time job later on.

Magazine Editor Job Description

A magazine editor is the force that pulls an issue together.

They will come up with story and feature ideas then delegate them to writers.

They will also analyze story ideas from writers.

The role of a magazine editor is to review and rewrite the work of writers to have it reach the standards and style of a publication.

Some editors even contribute articles themselves.

A magazine editor is also knowledgeable when it comes to the genre of the magazine they edit.

A fashion magazine editor will have a great deal of knowledge regarding this field, for instance.

Some magazine editors oversee production of a magazine issue.

They may attend meetings with magazine management, and keep in close contact with advertorial staff.

They may employ interns and are always on the lookout for new writing talent.

More and more writers for magazine work on a freelance basis.

A magazine editor will also keep in communication with freelance writers, giving writing assignments out or considering story ideas that they may be approached with.

Here are some of the duties of a magazine editor:

  • Make sure a magazine is consistent
  • Ensure writing style and quality is high
  • Edit and rewrite material
  • Delegate writing assignments
  • Communicate with freelance writers
  • Communicate with other magazine staff
  • Keep up to date with industry news

Magazine Editor Salary and Career Path

After you complete your studies you’ll be ready for a role as a writer.

Most get their first job in a smaller publication where you’ll be writing and investigating stories, and also be on the hunt for new ideas all the time

Once you have spent a few years as a writer, the time may be right to move into editing.

Look around for a role as an editorial assistant.

If there is a particular genre of magazine that you want to work for, look for this kind of role now.

Working as an editorial assistant will give you the experience you need to get a position as a magazine editor.

While you may not start out working in the magazine of your choice, more experience and skill will lead to roles in more prestigious publications.

The median salary for an editor is $49,000 a year.

However, if you were a magazine editor for a large publication your wage would be much higher than this.

The top 10% of earners make over $95,000 a year.

Some magazine editors will move into other managerial position within a publication, while others will leave their role and take up freelance editing.

Here are some roles similar to that of magazine editor:

  • Editor
  • Writer
  • Author
  • Journalist
  • Copywriter
  • Editorial assistant
  • English teacher
  • Marketing executive
  • Advertising executive

When you become a magazine editor you can look forward to a role that allows you to bring writing and editing talent with managerial skills.

This role offers a good salary, although it may take some work experience to achieve.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Writers and Editors, OCC Code 27-3040, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a magazine editor do?

The main responsibility of a magazine editor is to polish and refine an article.

The typical duties of a magazine editor also include checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation, as well as facts and figures; ensuring that the piece corresponds with the in-house style guides; cutting out the parts that do not fit the purpose of the text; guiding the reading audience’s focus; making sure that the piece looks refined once done, and so on.

There are different types of magazine editors – the copy editor, the managing editor, the engagement editor, and the editor in chief.

The copy editor, for example, checks the facts, spelling, and grammar; writes headlines or introductory paragraphs (if necessary); review photos; arranges the layouts and sidebars…

How much do magazine editors make?

On average, a magazine editor can make a little less than $53.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $28.000 and 99.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

Magazine editors that work in the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and New York, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level magazine editor can earn around $13.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $48.00 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a magazine editor?

The majority of professionals have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications or a related field.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job prospects, you can go for a master’s degree in editing and publishing; that will cost you $6.000-$70.000 per year.

In most cases, classes in editing software and graphic design can be helpful.

What is the demand for magazine editors?

Between 2016 and 2026, the magazine editor job market is expected to shrink by 1.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That certainly is slower than the average for all occupations in the United States.

Those who possess technical and internet proficiency will have better chances of getting the highest-paid jobs.

The industry is mainly concentrated in Texas, New York, and California.

How long does it take to become a magazine editor?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last years in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of relevant experience.

There are plenty of computer classes available both online and offline; you can easily find some short-term courses that last for 1.5-2 months.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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