Copy editors check text before it’s published in books, journals and websites.
Salary range: £22,000 to £40,000
How to become a copy editor
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- specialist training courses with professional bodies
- a graduate training scheme
Many copy editors have a degree. Most subjects are accepted.
A degree in publishing, media, English or a related subject may improve your chances of finding work.
To work in a specialist area, employers will prefer you to have a subject-related degree.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You can work towards this role through an advanced apprenticeship as a publishing assistant.
Employers will set their own entry requirements.
You could start as an editorial assistant in a publishing company and build up your experience of proofreading and text editing. This would also allow you to build a portfolio of work, to showcase your skills to potential employers.
Some publishing houses run graduate training schemes and internships.
Employers will often expect you to have some experience in the publishing industry.
You could get experience in the publishing industry from:
- job shadowing
- editing and proofreading student magazines and websites
- admin work in a publishing company
Professional and industry bodies
You could join a professional organisation like The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).
You can also find out more about working in this and other creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of English language
- knowledge of media production and communication
- the ability to read English
- excellent verbal communication skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- excellent written communication skills
- the ability to work well with others
- to be flexible and open to change
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation errors
- checking the length of the text fits in with publisher requirements
- making sure the text is in the right style
- making sure the meaning of the text is clear
- checking that references are quoted correctly and pictures have the right captions
- checking for legal issues, like libel or breach of copyright
- talking to the author about queries or revisions
You could work in an office or from home.
Career path and progression
You could become a features writer, chief sub-editor or production editor. Some sub-editors go freelance.