Editors plan, commission, evaluate, select, edit and organise material for publication online or in books, magazines, and newspapers. They may also manage editorial staff.
Editors usually earn
$44K-$60K per year
Senior editors usually earn
$60K-$90K per year
Source: Publishers' Association of New Zealand and Whitireia New Zealand, 2018.
Pay for editors varies depending on experience and the type of work they do.
- Editorial assistants usually start on the minimum wage.
- Editors with one to three years' experience usually earn between $44,000 and $60,000.
- Senior editors, publishers, or editors who manage staff usually earn between $60,000 and $90,000.
Freelance editors usually get paid an hourly wage.
Sources: Publishers' Association of New Zealand and Whitireia New Zealand, 2018.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Editors may do some or all of the following:
- edit online and print content and check it against guidelines, including legal requirements, and rewrite if necessary
- proofread online and print content.
Commissioning editors or editors for news organisations or magazines may also:
- decide what material to cover, and ensure it meets the needs of the audience
- plan content layout
- assign work to staff
- ensure deadlines are met
- hire and train 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 print and online content
- an understanding of the audience and what people want to read
- skill using digital technology
- knowledge of media law, including copyright and defamation.
- usually work regular 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.
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 experience in a relevant area such as:
- public relations
However, some people with less experience may become editors of their own specialist publications.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become an editor. However, English, media studies, te reo Māori, design and visual communications (graphics), languages, and digital technologies are useful.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
To specialise as an editor in an academic discipline, such as law or medicine, 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.
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!
Useful experience for editors includes:
- research, writing, editing or proofreading
- communications and marketing work.
Find out more about training
- New Zealand Institute of Business Studies
- 0800 801 994 - www.nzibs.co.nz
- Whitireia New Zealand
- 0800 944 847 - www.whitireiapublishing.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Good demand for editors to work on online content
Opportunities for editors are limited due to the occupation being relatively small.
However, demand for those who specialise in online content is good because:
- the amount of online content is increasing rapidly
- more organisations are recognising online content needs to go through an editor.
Limited opportunities at publishing houses
Although publishing companies are increasingly moving from print to digital publishing, opportunities for editors at these companies are limited. They tend to hire editors as needed, on contract, so chances are best for those with a good reputation and strong network.
According to the Census, 1,800 editors worked in New Zealand in 2018.
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 among them.
Publishing diploma boosts chances of securing a job
Chances of securing a job are higher if you have completed the Graduate Diploma in Publishing, as graduates get help to find internships, or editor/editorial assistant positions.
Editors often self-employed
Editors are often self-employed. They may work for:
- publishing companies that produce books, newspapers, magazines or educational resources
- government departments
- marketing and communications organisations.
- Ferguson, C, association director, Publishers' Association of New Zealand, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
- Hodgkinson, M, tutor, Whitireia New Zealand, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Whitireia Publishing website, accessed February 2018, (www.whitireiapublishing.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Editors can progress into more senior positions or managerial roles.
They may also specialise in one of the following roles:
- Commissioning Editor
- Commissioning editors do market research to uncover what content is in demand, and commission authors and illustrators to create that content.
- Copy Editor
- Copy editors check written content to correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style before the content is published.
- Newspaper or Magazine Editor
- Newspaper and magazine editors plan and direct production and editing of a publication such as a newspaper, magazine or journal.
- Online Editor
- Online editors plan website pages, organise multimedia content, write headings and captions, and ensure material follows guidelines for web writing.
- Production Editor
- Production editors oversee the entire publishing process to make sure that content meets quality standards and is published on time. They may also be responsible for managing staff.
- 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.
Last updated 1 April 2022