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Copy editor

Alternative titles for this job include

Copy editors make sure text is clear, consistent, correct and complete, ready for publishing in printed and online publications.

Average salary (a year)

£22,000 Starter


£46,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 a week

You could work

freelance / self-employed managing your own hours

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a copy editor

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist training courses with professional bodies
  • a graduate training scheme


Many copy editors have a degree. Most subjects are accepted.

A degree in publishing, media, English or a related subject may improve your chances of finding work.

To work for a specialist publisher, for example of scientific or technical publications, employers will prefer you to have subject matter expertise through a related degree.

It's useful to get relevant work experience during your studies. Some publishers offer work shadowing, work experience, internship and traineeship opportunities. Your university careers service can help you explore your options.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information


You can work towards this role through an advanced apprenticeship as a publishing assistant.

This typically takes 18 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and off-the-job study.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information


You could start as an editorial assistant in a publishing company and build up your experience of text editing and proofreading. This would also allow you to build a portfolio of work, to showcase your skills to potential employers.


Charities often look for volunteers to help them write and edit their publications. You can search volunteering opportunities through The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Do IT.

Other Routes

You could take a proofreading or editing course, like the ones offered by the The Publishing Training Centre or the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

Some publishing houses run graduate training schemes and internships.

More Information

Career tips

Employers will often expect you to have some experience in the publishing industry which you can get from:

  • job shadowing
  • editing and proofreading student magazines and websites
  • admin work in a publishing company

Professional and industry bodies

You could join a professional organisation like the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

Further information

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) and the Publishing Training Centre have further details on training options.

You can also find out more about working in this and other creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent written communication skills
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Typically you may work on raw or draft text to:

  • correct spelling, grammar and punctuation errors
  • check the length of the text fits in with publisher requirements
  • make sure the text is in the right style for the intended audience
  • apply a 'house-style' to copy written by more than one writer
  • make sure the meaning of the text is clear
  • check that references are correct and that pictures and tables have the right captions
  • check for legal issues like libel or breach of copyright
  • mark up queries, revisions or items that need legal permission to use

Working environment

You could work in an office or from home.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could become a features writer, chief sub-editor or production editor.

Many copy editors work freelance.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Academic Editorial Apprentice

  • Wage: £21,000.00 Annually
  • Location: LONDON

Academic Marketing Apprentice

  • Wage: £21,000.00 Annually
  • Location: LONDON

Courses In England

Journalism L3

  • Provider: ITCHEN COLLEGE
  • Start date: 05 September 2023
  • Location: Bitterne

Freelance journalism

  • Start date: 10 July 2023
  • Location: London

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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