This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Editors plan, commission, evaluate, select, edit and organise material for publication in books, magazines, newspapers, videos or online, and oversee its production. They may also manage editorial staff.
Editorial assistants usually earn
$35K-$40K per year
Senior editors usually earn
$60K-$90K per year
Source: Whitireia NZ, 2016.
Pay for editors varies depending on experience and level of responsibility.
- Editorial assistants usually earn between $35,000 and $40,000 a year.
- Editors with one to three years' experience usually earn between $40,000 and $60,000.
- Senior editors or publishers usually earn between $60,000 and $90,000.
Freelance editors get paid hourly or per page.
Sources: Whitireia New Zealand, 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Editors may do some or all of the following:
- decide what material to cover, and ensure it meets the needs of the audience
- plan content layout
- edit content and check it against guidelines, including legal requirements, and rewrite if necessary
- proofread content
- contribute to decisions about functionality of online content
- audit online content
- assign work to staff
- ensure deadlines are met
- train writers and editorial staff.
Editors in senior positions may also:
- negotiate contracts with contributors or purchasers
- liaise with advertising, printing and marketing staff, and distributors
- hire editorial or writing staff.
Skills and knowledge
Editors need to have:
- excellent writing and editing skills, with a thorough knowledge of spelling, grammar and vocabulary
- a good understanding of the processes involved in publishing a newspaper, magazine, book or website
- an understanding of the audience and what people want to read
- good general knowledge, including knowledge of New Zealand culture, history, literature and society
- knowledge of design and publication
- skill using online tools/programs and technology
- knowledge of media law, including copyright and defamation.
- usually work standard business hours but may work long hours and weekends to meet deadlines
- usually work in offices or newsrooms
- work in conditions that may be stressful due to deadlines or the subjects they cover.
What's the job really like?
What does a typical day as an editor involve?
"Typically I have either one big project – a book, or a longer piece – or a bunch of smaller bits of work – like articles, promotional copy, and web content – to work on.
"I check facts and references, grammar, word choice and use, punctuation, and how the piece flows when reading it. If it’s online content I think about strategically using terms that will draw people to the piece when they’re searching.
"If it’s for print I might also be thinking about layout as I go. It can be a wildly varied job, both subject matter and where it will end up."
What is the best part about being an editor?
"I like having multiple projects, so it works for me to have five on the go. I get the sense of completion but also always have something to work on. And I like punctuation!"
What is the biggest challenge you face?
"It can be hard dealing with reactions from the people whose work you are editing. Some people find it hard to accept constructive criticism, so then I have to take extra time to explain why I made the changes."
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an editor?
"People think of editing as editing fiction at a publishing house, but there are a lot of other roles editors can do, and they are becoming more diverse the more technology plays a role in the publishing world. If you’re the kind of person that already picks up mistakes – in books, online, on signs and in menus – then you should consider training as an editor so that you can start putting things right!"
To become an editor you usually need to have a relevant qualification such as a:
- diploma in publishing or editing
- tertiary qualification in an area such as English, journalism, communications, graphic arts, public relations or marketing.
It can also be useful to have several years' experience in a relevant area such as:
- public relations
However, some people may become editors of their own specialist publications with less experience.
Useful subjects include English, history, art history, classics and other essay-based subjects.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
To specialise as an editor in law, medicine or accounting, you need to be qualified in that area.
Editors need to be:
- organised and responsible
- enquiring and diplomatic
- quick and accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to work well under pressure
- excellent problem solvers
- skilled communicators
- able to keep information private
- skilled at research and analysis.
If you’re the kind of person that has the eye for detail and already picks up mistakes – in books, online, on signs and in menus – then you should consider training as an editor so that you can start putting things right!
Useful experience for editors includes:
- research, writing, editing or proofreading work
- management work
- reading about a wide range of subjects
- journalism experience
- office and computer work
- any work where you have to meet deadlines.
Find out more about training
- Whitireia New Zealand
- 0800 944 847 - www.whitireiapublishing.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Strong demand for editors to work on online content
Demand for for editors who specialise in online content is good because:
- the amount of online content is increasing rapidly
- more organisations are recognising that online content needs to go through an editor before it is released.
Limited opportunities at publishing houses
Although publishing companies are increasingly moving from print to digital publishing, opportunities for editors at these companies are more limited. They tend to hire editors as needed, on contract, so chances are best for editors with a good reputation and strong network.
Low turnover among senior editors
Senior editors tend to stay in the job for a long time, so vacancies at this level are limited. When vacancies do arise, they are often filled by internal candidates.
Opportunities are better for editorial assistants, as turnover is higher.
Publishing diploma boosts chances of securing a job
Chances of securing a first job are higher if you have completed the Graduate Diploma in Publishing, as graduates get help to find internships, or editor/editorial assistant positions.
Types of employers varied
Editors may work for:
- publishing companies that produce books, newspapers, magazines or educational resources
- government departments
- organisations with an online presence.
These businesses range in size from small companies with as few as three staff, to large companies employing hundreds of people.
Editors may also be self-employed.
- de Lautour, A, association director of Publishers Association of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2016.
- Marks, M, publishing tutor, Whitireia New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2016.
- Owens, O, programme leader, Whitireia New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2016.
Progression and specialisations
Editors can progress into more senior positions or managerial roles.
They may also specialise in one of the following roles:
- Newspaper or Magazine Editor
- Newspaper and magazine editors plan and direct production and editing of a publication such as a newspaper, magazine or journal.
- Publishing Editor
- Publishing editors evaluate manuscripts of books or scripts to determine suitability for publication or production. They edit material in preparation for publication or production, and supervise others helping with this process.
- Website Editor
- Website editors plan website pages, organise multimedia content, write headings and captions, and ensure material follows guidelines for web writing.
Last updated 12 June 2017