Become a Managing Editor: Education and Career Requirements

Find out how to become a managing editor. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in editing. View article »

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  • 0:03 Should I Become a…
  • 0:44 Career Requirements
  • 1:18 Step 1: Bachelor's Degree
  • 3:20 Step 2: Gain…
  • 3:57 Step 3: Continuing Education
  • 4:50 Step 4: Get Promoted

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Managing Editor?

Managing editors are responsible for the day-to-day operations of magazines and newspapers. This can involve overseeing content development and supervising other editors and writers. The competition for jobs with established media is growing because of an overall decline in the print industry. Editors must be adaptable and open to online editing positions. A certain amount of job-related stress often occurs, especially in the event of deadlines.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field English, journalism, communications, or another relevant major
Experience On-the-job
Key Skills Outstanding written and verbal communication skills; strong attention to detail and consistency; ability to work as part of a team and ability to strategize with clients to develop content; ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously and work under pressure
Median Salary (2015) $56,010 (for editors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A college degree is generally the first step in the path to becoming a managing editor.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A 4-year degree is necessary to qualify for most entry-level jobs in writing and publishing. Students may choose to study journalism, communications, or a related field, though some of these professionals major in an unrelated field and gain editorial skills through experience. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) recommends that communications and journalism students take an assortment of electives to prepare them for assignments they may cover in this field. Students who would like to pursue careers in specific fields, such as the newspaper or book publishing industries, should take courses in their areas of interest to develop greater levels of expertise.

Success Tips:

Join the staff of a college publication. Many colleges and universities have student-run newspapers or magazines. Such publications can provide aspiring editors with practical experience and familiarize them with the fast pace of publication settings. As is the case in professional publications, students will usually start as writers and then advance to take on an increasing amount of editorial responsibilities.

Gain internship experience.Internships allow students to demonstrate their abilities to succeed in professional publishing environments. Students can also gain exposure to different types of publishing and develop professional contacts that may prove helpful when searching for employment.

Start a blog. Starting an independent blog gives a student the opportunity to develop writing skills and demonstrate expertise in specific subject areas. Students who commit to regularly updating their blogs, cultivate their own voice and demonstrate an understanding of how to use online media may have a leg up on the competition when applying for entry-level positions.

Step 2: Gain Entry-level Work Experience

Editors usually start out as writers and reporters with newspapers, broadcasting companies, and advertising agencies and then work their way up. Landing one's first job at a magazine or newspaper is crucial for climbing the ladder to a managing editor position; however, even entry-level positions can require experience in the field. Doing freelance writing or editing can be a way of establishing oneself in a particular publishing community and accumulating samples to show to prospective employers.

Step 3: Consider Continuing Education or Graduate School

Editors and writers who are starting out may find that they lack some of the technological skills necessary for the job. Organizations such as the SPJ offer online courses to help bolster skills in social media, freelancing, and video reporting. The SPJ also sponsors conferences, which could provide early-career editors with professional development tools as well as valuable networking opportunities.

Graduate school programs in journalism are also available. Some master's programs in journalism focus on basic story development and production, while others are subject-area specific and offer students the opportunity to become experts in areas such as political or finance reporting.

Step 4: Get Promoted

To become a managing editor, individuals typically need to have lengthy writing and editing experience. Writers who show their employers a strong understanding of editorial operations and good management skills may be given more complex assignments and supervisory responsibilities. After gaining promotion to a lower-level editing position, like editorial assistant, these workers may advance to upper-level editorial positions.

Managing editors have a bachelors' degree, usually in journalism, followed by several years of work experience. A graduate degree in journalism can help some folks get ahead by offering subject-area specific study, such as in finance reporting.

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