CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become an editor.

Step 1

Is becoming an editor right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do editors do?
Career Satisfaction
Are editors happy with their careers?
What are editors like?

Still unsure if becoming an editor is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an editor or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

High School

For high school students aspiring to become editors, taking courses that develop strong communication, critical thinking, and writing skills is essential. Here are some recommended high school courses:

  • English/Literature: English courses provide a foundation in grammar, vocabulary, literary analysis, and writing skills. Studying literature exposes students to different writing styles, genres, and themes, helping them develop a deeper understanding of language and storytelling.
  • Journalism: Journalism courses introduce students to the principles and practices of news reporting, editing, and media ethics. Students learn about researching, interviewing, writing news articles, and editing content for publication, gaining valuable skills applicable to editorial roles.
  • Creative Writing: Creative writing courses allow students to explore their imagination and develop their voice as writers. They learn to craft narratives, develop characters, and experiment with different literary techniques, fostering creativity and expression.
  • AP/IB English Language and Composition: Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) English Language and Composition courses offer rigorous instruction in critical reading, analytical writing, and rhetorical analysis. These courses prepare students for college-level writing and critical thinking, which are essential for editorial roles.
  • Media Studies: Media studies courses cover topics such as media literacy, mass communication, and digital media production. Students learn about the role of media in society, analyze media messages, and gain hands-on experience with multimedia storytelling tools.
  • Foreign Language: Studying a foreign language enhances communication skills and cultural awareness, which are valuable assets for editors working in diverse publishing environments.
  • Computer Science/Technology: Courses in computer science or technology provide students with essential digital literacy skills, including proficiency in word processing, desktop publishing software, and online research tools commonly used in editorial work.
  • Public Speaking/Debate: Public speaking or debate courses help students improve their communication and presentation skills, which are important for collaborating with writers, giving feedback, and advocating for their editorial decisions.
Step 3

Educational Options

For individuals seeking educational opportunities to become editors, there are various paths to consider, including degree programs, certificates, and professional development courses. Here are some educational options:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, English, or Communications: Many editors hold a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, English, Communications, or a related field. These programs provide a comprehensive education in writing, editing, media law, ethics, and multimedia storytelling. Look for programs accredited by organizations like the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
  • Master's Degree in Journalism or Publishing: Some editors pursue a master's degree to further specialize in editing, publishing, or related fields. Master's programs offer advanced coursework in editing theory and practice, digital publishing, magazine editing, book publishing, and editorial leadership. A master's degree can enhance career opportunities and provide advanced training in editorial skills.
  • Editing Certificates and Continuing Education: Many colleges and universities offer editing certificates and continuing education programs for professionals seeking to enhance their editing skills or transition into editorial roles. These programs cover topics such as copyediting, developmental editing, proofreading, grammar, style guides, and editorial project management.
  • Professional Development Workshops and Seminars: Organizations like the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) offer workshops, seminars, and conferences on editing topics. These events provide opportunities to learn from industry experts, network with other editors, and stay current with trends in editing and publishing.
  • Online Courses and MOOCs: There are numerous online courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available for aspiring editors, covering a wide range of topics such as copyediting, developmental editing, grammar, punctuation, and style. Platforms like Coursera, edX, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses taught by industry professionals and leading universities.
Step 4


Internships are valuable opportunities for aspiring editors to gain hands-on experience, develop essential skills, and network with professionals in the field. While editorial internships may vary in availability and requirements, here are some places where aspiring editors can find internships:

  • Publishing Houses: Major publishing houses, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Book Group, offer editorial internships for individuals interested in book publishing. These internships may involve manuscript evaluation, copyediting, proofreading, and editorial project management.
  • Magazines and Newspapers: Many magazines and newspapers offer editorial internships to aspiring editors interested in print or digital journalism. Publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Vogue, and The Atlantic regularly recruit editorial interns to assist with research, fact-checking, writing, editing, and production tasks.
  • Online Publications: Digital media companies and online publications like BuzzFeed, Vox Media, HuffPost, and Insider often offer editorial internships focused on digital content creation, editing, and social media management. These internships may involve writing headlines, editing articles, curating content, and optimizing web content for SEO.
  • Literary Agencies: Literary agencies represent authors and negotiate book deals on their behalf. Some literary agencies, such as InkWell Management and Curtis Brown, offer editorial internships that provide insight into the publishing industry, manuscript evaluation, and editorial feedback.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, and think tanks may offer editorial internships focused on research, writing, and editing for policy papers, reports, and publications. Examples include The Brookings Institution, Amnesty International, and the World Wildlife Fund.
  • Trade Associations: Trade associations and professional organizations in the publishing industry, such as the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) and the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), may offer editorial internships or volunteer opportunities to assist with editing, proofreading, and content management.
  • University Presses: University presses publish scholarly books and journals in various academic disciplines. Many university presses, such as Oxford University Press and Harvard University Press, offer editorial internships for individuals interested in academic publishing, manuscript editing, and peer review.
Step 5


While there are no specific certifications required to become an editor, obtaining professional certifications can demonstrate expertise, enhance credibility, and improve job prospects in the competitive editorial field. Here are some certifications and credentialing programs available for editors:

  • Certified Professional Editors (CPE): Offered by the Editors' Association of Canada (Editors Canada), the CPE designation is recognized internationally and demonstrates proficiency in editing skills, including copyediting, stylistic editing, and structural editing. Although it is based in Canada, the certification is valuable for editors working in the US as well.
  • Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing: The Poynter Institute and the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) offer an online certificate program in editing that covers grammar, punctuation, style, and ethical editing practices. Completing this program demonstrates proficiency in editing fundamentals and adherence to industry standards.
  • University Certificate Programs: Many colleges and universities offer certificate programs in editing or publishing that provide specialized training in editorial skills and techniques. These programs may cover topics such as copyediting, proofreading, developmental editing, and digital publishing.
  • Copyediting Certification Programs: Organizations like the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) offer certification programs specifically focused on copyediting skills. Completing these programs demonstrates proficiency in grammar, punctuation, style guides, and manuscript markup.
  • American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Certification: For editors specializing in medical or scientific editing, the AMWA offers certification programs that demonstrate expertise in editing medical and scientific content, adherence to industry standards, and understanding of medical terminology and conventions.
  • LinkedIn Learning Certificates: Online learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning offer courses and certificate programs in editing, proofreading, and writing skills. While these certificates may not be as recognized as industry-specific certifications, they can still demonstrate competency and commitment to professional development.
  • Specialized Editing Certifications: Depending on the editor's area of specialization, there may be industry-specific certifications available. For example, the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) offers certification for editors specializing in life sciences, while the Board of Editors in the Social Sciences (BESS) offers certification for editors in the social sciences.
Step 6

Associations & Organizations

There are several professional associations and organizations dedicated to supporting editors and promoting excellence in the field of editing. Here are some notable associations for editors:

  • American Copy Editors Society (ACES): ACES is a nonprofit organization that provides training, resources, and networking opportunities for editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. It offers an annual conference, webinars, workshops, and an online job bank for members.
  • Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA): The EFA is a national organization representing freelance editors, proofreaders, and other editorial professionals. It offers professional development resources, job listings, networking events, and a directory of freelance editors.
  • Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP): While based in the UK, SfEP is an international organization with members worldwide, including the US. It offers training courses, networking events, and resources for editors and proofreaders working in various sectors.
  • Council of Science Editors (CSE): CSE is a professional organization for editors and publishers in the scientific and medical fields. It provides resources, guidelines, and networking opportunities for professionals involved in editing scientific manuscripts and publications.
  • National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE): NAIWE is a professional association for independent writers, editors, and content creators. It offers resources, training, and networking opportunities for freelance editors and writers.
  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP): AWP is a nonprofit organization that supports writers and writing programs. While not specifically for editors, it offers resources, conferences, and networking opportunities that may be valuable for editors working in the literary field.
  • Society for Technical Communication (STC): STC is a professional association for technical communicators, including technical writers and editors. It offers resources, certification programs, and networking opportunities for professionals in the field of technical communication.
Step 7

Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities for editors can be found across various industries, including publishing, media, corporate communications, government, education, and nonprofit organizations. Here are some common types of employment opportunities for editors:

  • Publishing Houses: Traditional publishing houses, including book publishers, magazines, and newspapers, often hire editors to oversee the production of written content. Opportunities may include roles such as acquisitions editor, copy editor, managing editor, or editorial assistant.
  • Digital Media Companies: With the rise of digital content, many online media companies, digital publishers, and content marketing agencies employ editors to curate, edit, and produce digital content for websites, blogs, social media, and email newsletters.
  • Corporate Communications: Large corporations, businesses, and organizations often have in-house communications teams that hire editors to manage internal and external communications, including newsletters, reports, press releases, and marketing materials.
  • Government Agencies: Government agencies and departments at the federal, state, and local levels may employ editors to edit and proofread official documents, reports, publications, and communications materials.
  • Educational Institutions: Colleges, universities, and educational publishers hire editors to work on academic publications, textbooks, journals, and educational materials. Opportunities may include roles such as textbook editor, academic editor, or editorial assistant.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations, foundations, and advocacy groups may employ editors to edit and produce written materials, including reports, newsletters, fundraising appeals, and marketing collateral.
  • Freelance and Contract Work: Many editors work as freelancers or independent contractors, offering editing services on a project-by-project basis to clients in various industries. Freelance editors may specialize in specific types of editing, such as copyediting, developmental editing, or technical editing.
  • Content Agencies and Platforms: Content agencies, content marketing firms, and online platforms often hire editors to manage content creation, editing, and publication processes for clients or on their platforms.
  • Technical and Medical Editing: Industries such as technology, science, and healthcare require specialized editors with expertise in technical writing and medical terminology. Opportunities may include roles such as technical editor, medical editor, or scientific editor.
  • Translation and Localization: Editors may also work in translation and localization companies, editing translated content to ensure accuracy, clarity, and cultural appropriateness for target audiences.