Should I Become a Digital Editor?
Digital editors create, edit, layout and publish Web content. They assign stories, coordinate writer efforts, format content for Web publishing, and publish articles to various Internet platforms. They might also have the final say on articles submitted by staff or freelance writers, deciding what will become the final published version. Digital editors might work in an office environment or from home. Dealing with deadline pressures can be stressful and lead to long work hours.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; graduate degree a plus|
|Degree Field||English, journalism, communications, or related discipline|
|Experience||1-7 years experience in writing, producing, editing for Web and various related platforms|
|Key Skills||Writing, social media, design and layout, project management, and digital content management skills; familiarity with software like Photoshop or Dreamweaver, editing video for the web; experience with blogging, keyword-rich content writing, HTML coding|
|Salary||$56,010 (2015 median salary for all editors)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerBuilder.com job postings from September 2012
Aspiring digital editors should earn a bachelor's degree, and a graduate degree is a plus. Relevant majors include English, journalism, and communications. Experience of 1-7 years in writing, producing, editing for Web and various related platforms is needed to work in this field. Interested individuals should have skills in social media, digital content management, blogging, design and layout, or project management. They should also have familiarity with software like Photoshop or Dreamweaver as well as knowledge of editing video for Web, writing keyword-rich content and coding using HTML.
According to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, editors earn a median salary of $56,010.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in a Relevant Field
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is typically required for editing jobs (www.bls.gov). Aspiring editors might earn a degree in journalism, English or communications. Journalism focuses on writing and reporting stories in a variety of different media. English degree programs offer a curriculum of critical thinking and writing about literary texts. A communications degree prepares students to effectively convey ideas across all types of modern media for various purposes, including informative and commercial reasons.
Choose a degree program that offers digital editing emphasis. Many universities and colleges offer elective coursework, workshops or specific tracks in digital or video editing. These classes are beneficial in providing experience in the skills needed for employment after graduation.
Another tip is to work on the school's newspaper. The BLS notes that, while in college, editors can gain experience by working at their school's newspaper. Those interested in digital editing might work on their paper's website or on social media outlets like a Facebook page or Twitter account. Colleges might also provide opportunities for internships at professional publications, which allow editors to practice their skills and gain hands-on experience.
Step 2: Find Employment
Many editors begin their professional career as writers, says the BLS. They move up to editing jobs by establishing a track record of identifying compelling stories, recognizing skilled writing and interacting positively with other writers. They can also start in entry-level positions as copy editors.
In the editing world, promotions come from moving to positions of higher responsibility and a larger audience. A history of quality work and meeting deadlines is a good way to build a reputation and facilitate advancement. Digital editors might also advance through mastering more complex computer technology, such as Adobe Photoshop.
The BLS also reports writers could gain experience and exposure through self-publication on the Internet. For instance, they might publish their own blogs. This is especially important for digital editors, who need to be familiar with computer software and interactive Internet platforms, such as Facebook.
Volunteering to write or edit publications, press releases and other communication-related pieces in places like churches, schools or non-profit agencies can add experience to an aspiring editor's resume. Although this is a non-paying commitment to build experience, it could pay off in the long run with viable employment in the field.
Step 3: Consider Continuing Education
Though a bachelor's degree is commonly sufficient for most editing positions, some employers could prefer a graduate degree. For an individual looking to advance in the field, a master's degree in a relevant subject, such as journalism, may be worth considering.
Step 4: Join Related Professional Organizations
Several editing- and writing-related organizations offer benefits for a career in digital editing. The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) is one organization for electronic journalists, students and editors, and joining offers access to many professional development and networking opportunities. Fees vary depending upon the chosen category, which include options like online and emerging media news professional, student, new professional and retiree membership.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) also offers membership opportunities. SPJ members enjoy online training in areas like basic video shot composition, flip cam and camera techniques, blogs, social media and search engines, and freelancing.
Aspiring digital editors need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as communications, journalism or English, and might start off as writers before progressing into editing positions where the median salary was just over $56,000 in 2015.