How to Become a Copy Editor

Copyediting is an important part of the writing process that involves improvement of the style, format, and accuracy of written content. Copy editors are highly trained writing professionals that perform a variety of copyediting tasks.


This How to Become a Copy Editor review has been thoroughly researched with information and testimonials that are available to anyone in the public. Any conclusions drawn by myself are opinions.

What does a copy editor do?

Copy editors carefully review manuscripts for errors in grammar, spelling, format, and punctuation. They also check the copy for style and readability and make sure it agrees with the editorial policy. They make sure the terminology, jargon, and semantics are correct. Copy editors provide revision suggestions to improve clarity such as changing words, altering sentence structure, and rearranging paragraphs. They often read the piece many different times to make sure it flows well. They also assist with page layouts and insertion of photographs and other supporting materials. Some copy editors conduct research to confirm sources and verify information such as dates, facts, and statistics.

What kind of training does a copy editor need?

Copy editors typically need at least a bachelor degree in journalism, English, or other related field. Prospective copy editors typically complete courses in English, composition, literature, creative writing, and copyediting. Many copy editors complete internships or obtain part-time jobs working for school or local newspapers or magazines to gain practical experience in the field. Some begin their careers as writers and advance to editor positions as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Most employers provide some on the job training to enable new copyeditors to learn the necessary policies and expectations. Copy editors often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a copy editor?

Employment of copy editors is expected to experience little or no change from 2008 to 2018 (1).

Job prospects are expected to be fair with strong competition. Copy editors with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will arise from the need to replace copy editors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do copy editors make?

As of February 2010, coy editors with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $26,491 and $35,207. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $29,557 and $40,704 (2).

A career as a copy editor is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in performing a variety of copyediting tasks for many different written manuscripts. Copy editors must have a thorough knowledge of English grammar and spelling and a variety of copyediting techniques. Creativity, detail orientation, critical thinking, and perseverance are necessary characteristics. Copy editors must have good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work with a variety of writers and other editors. They must also be able to work under stress and pressure to meet strict deadlines.

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