Academic Editor: Career Description and Education Requirements

Sep 29, 2019

Academic editors need a fair amount of formal education. Learn more about degree programs and job duties to find out if this is the right career for you.

A bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications is commonly required for academic editors. Academic editors must have a strong grasp of the English language, grammar and punctuation rules, and be able to direct a writer to make appropriate corrections before publication.

Essential Information

An academic editor polishes an author's work - from college papers to professional books and journals - correcting typographical errors and grammatical mistakes as well as content errors that hinder the flow of reading. He or she also might edit a collection of writing for a journal or book. Many editors enter into the academic world with a bachelor's degree in English, communications or journalism.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -3% decline (for all editors)
Average Salary (2018)* $59,480 (for editors with colleges, universities and professional schools)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Description

An editor reads a writer's work, changing and revising that writing as necessary. An academic editor specializes in editing work written for academic purposes, such as college papers, dissertations and professional journals. Problems with mechanics, style and voice all might be corrected in the editorial process.

Another aspect of an academic editor's job might be supervising compilation of writing for a larger work. This could include choosing articles that become published by overseeing a peer-review process. Academic editors also might decide upon guidelines for the editorial process of specific works. These professionals might be involved in the initial conception of a project, managing the entire creation and ensuring the final product meets the requirements set forth.

Education Requirements

Many editors enter into the literary world by writing. A bachelor's degree in English, communications or journalism could prove useful in demonstrating a mastery of the necessary knowledge in rules of the English language. Individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree in a related subject, but who would like to gain a greater degree of specialization, might opt for a graduate certificate program in professional writing or editing. A few colleges and universities offer degree programs in professional writing and editing, in which a student can learn to produce and edit professional documents with a particular audience in mind.

An academic editor who works with higher education documents, such as theses and dissertations, might be required to have experience in the field for which the paper is written, in addition to holding either a relevant master's or a doctoral degree. Editors at this level might represent a wide range of field specializations, including such diverse subjects as the sciences and the performing arts.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of May 2018, editors in general earned an annual average salary of $69,480, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At that time, colleges, universities and professional schools paid editors an average annual salary of $64,550. The BLS predicted that job opportunities for editors in general would decline through 2028 (

Academic editors are required to have a bachelor's degree and are responsible for editing books, journals or articles within academia. They can earn graduate certification or a master's degree, and may also benefit from training in a specific subject area if they focus on editing technical texts. Editors can expect to see a decline in job opportunities through the 2018-2028 decade.

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