Copy Editor: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Sep 28, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a copy editor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary projections to find out if this is the career for you.

Copy editors can be employed in various industries where they proofread and modify a writer's work, following the specifications provided by the employer. We will explore the job duties, salary, and occupational growth for these professionals.

Essential Information

Copy editors ensure that articles, books and other materials are free of errors, easy to read and conform to the publication's style. Copy editors need a passion for writing, a sharp eye for detail and the ability to work well under pressure. They may work for a variety of print or online publications as either salaried or freelance employees. Most of these professionals hold bachelor's degrees in journalism, English or related fields.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in English, journalism or other relevant field
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -3% for all editors
Median Wage (2018)* $59,480 annually for all editors

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Copy Editor Job Description

Copy editors check over writers' final drafts to ensure they're free of errors. They also make sure the writing is easy to read and fits the publication's editorial style. Some copy editors are employed at magazines, newspapers and online publications, while other copy editors work on a freelance basis and take on multiple assignments for various companies.

Copy Editor Job Duties

Copy editors begin the editing process by fixing any grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors. They also double check that names, places and organizations are spelled properly and that facts, dates and statistics are accurate. This may involve contacting writers' sources and conducting online research. Copy editors also write headlines and subheads for articles and, depending on the publication, create page layouts that consist of the placement of articles, photographs and advertisements.

Each publication employs its own style guide that dictates writing standards, such as tense, voice or the spelling of certain words. Copy editors ensure that articles are written in accordance with the style guide. They work closely with writers, suggesting changes to enhance articles' readability, conciseness and style. Copy editors also help writers research topics and locate and contact sources throughout the development of articles.

Copy Editor Salary Information

In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that all editors earned a mean wage of $69,480 annually ( The newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers industry employed the largest number of editors compared to any other industry and offered a mean wage of $65,890 per year. The highest-paying editor jobs, with a mean wage of $101,210 per year, went to those working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.

Copy Editor Employment Projections

According to the BLS, employment of editors in general is expected to decline during the 2018-2028 decade. Competition is expected to be high due to the popularity of this profession. Copy editors familiar with electronic and digital media will experience the best employment opportunities.

The copy editor is responsible for finding errors in written content and correcting them, also making suggestions to the writers. Most of them have a bachelor's degree or higher in a relevant field. Copy editors make an average of about $69,000 per year, but it differs widely by industry.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?