Job Description of an Editor-in-Chief

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an editor-in-chief. Get a quick view of the requirements and details about degree programs, job duties, and salary projections to find out if this is the career for you. View article »

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  • 00:01 Essential Information
  • 0:35 Job Description
  • 1:04 Job Duties
  • 2:21 Job Outlook & Salary

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Video Transcript

Essential Information

An editor-in-chief can work for any type of publication, such as newspapers or magazines. They are in charge of creating editorial boards and overseeing all department editors. The editor-in-chief has the final say on what gets published and serves as the publication's representative at social functions. They are in charge of developing budgets for the departments they oversee. Most editors-in-chief started their careers as writers, and a bachelor's degree in journalism or another relevant field is generally required.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, or related field
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 2% decline for all editors*
Median Salary (2016) $74,865 for editors-in-chief**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Job Description

The editor-in-chief is also known as the executive editor, and manages all the day-to-day operations of a publication, such as a newspaper, magazine, trade publication, or academic journal. The editor-in-chief oversees all of the assistant, or department, editors of a publication and ensures each issue is released on time. Most editors-in-chief worked up to this top position by starting out as writers, then working as assistant or managing editors.

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Job Duties

The editor-in-chief is responsible for hiring, especially of the assistant editors. With the assistant editors, the editor-in-chief creates the editorial board, or outline, for each of the publication's editions or issues. The editor-in-chief reviews all articles and photographs for accuracy as well as potential libel or slander, and provides suggestions, if needed, about any changes to make before the publication goes to press or is released digitally. Layouts and design need approval by the editor-in-chief. In the end, the editor-in-chief has the final word about which stories and photos get published.

The editor-in-chief meets regularly with the publisher or publication board to discuss issues, plans, and other business relating to the publication. The editor-in-chief has the responsibility of drawing up budget proposals and any other information requested by the publisher. The editor-in-chief generates ideas for new ways of doing things, such as using new technology, implementing ways to increase readership, and how to utilize new media. Tough problems are often handled by the editor-in-chief, and advice about editorial issues is also provided. Whenever a social function happens, the editor-in-chief is the publication's representative, and some travel can be required.

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the annual median pay of all editors in 2015 was $56,010, and the top-paid ten percent earned a salary of $109,760 or more. PayScale.com reported the median salary for editors-in-chief was $74,865 in September 2016. Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS projects about a 2% decrease in job opportunities for editing professionals.

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