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Become a Design Editor: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a design editor. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in design editing. View article »

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  • 0:00 Multimedia Artist or Animator
  • 0:34 Career Requirements
  • 1:19 Career Steps

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Video Transcript

Multimedia Artist or Animator

A design editor works in the publishing industry, coordinating the efforts of other members of the design team to unify themes and ensure quality of a publication, either in print or digital form. Daily tasks depend on the publication but usually consist of checking for errors in images or text and aiding in communication with multiple design departments.

Most design editors work in a climate-controlled office environment, but their work schedules might extend into evening or weekend hours to meet production deadlines.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's recommended for advancement
Degree Field Graphic design or similar subject
Experience Entry-level positions with postsecondary education; internship and portfolio
Key Skills Artistic; creativity; ability to work with others; communication, problem-solving; decision-making; and critical thinking skills; industry-specific skills in graphic design, publishing, and web editing software programs; database query, web coding, and Adobe Creative Suite
Salary $89,760 (2015 median salary for art directors)

Sources: O*NET Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

While you can get entry-level positions as a design editor with a postsecondary education, an internship and portfolio can enhance career prospects. Key skills include artistic, communications, creativity, ability to work with others, problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, industry-specific skills in graphic design, publishing and web editing software programs, database query, Web coding, and knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite. In 2015, art directors earned a median annual salary of $89,760, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now let's check out the career steps for design editors.

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Career Steps

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Aspiring candidates who have completed a 4-year college program in graphic design generally have good job prospects. The BLS notes that training should include coursework that familiarizes students with industry software programs such as computer graphics as well as methods used in printing. As the publishing industry leans more towards digital and less towards print publications, design editors should also be familiar with layout design software tools and Web publishing software.

To really shine, create a portfolio. Candidates can enhance their job prospects by having a completed portfolio that can be presented to potential employers. Usually provided as an elective while in school, students compile various pieces of their artistic work that can be used as tool to display their acquired skills and knowledge in graphic design.

They also want to complete an internship. An internship is usually the last component of a college degree program. Such programs provide students with the opportunity to work alongside more experienced professionals and to gain valuable industry knowledge and skills.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Design editors can find work in a number of settings, the most common being the publishing industry. With experience, a design editor can be promoted to a more senior position or specialize as an editor of a specific section of a publication. Some design editors explore freelance work or move on to form their own publications.

Step 3: Consider an Advanced Degree

Advancement to an editor position usually comes with experience in the field. However many who want to advance into upper-level design editing or art director positions return to school and work towards a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA). Pursuing an advanced degree has several benefits, including networking opportunities, a deeper understanding of the field, and an opportunity to refine and develop a portfolio.

To recap, with the completion of a postsecondary education and work experience, a design editor can earn about $90,000 a year to coordinate the efforts of other members of the design team to unify themes.

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