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Copy editor

Alternative titles for this job include

Copy editors make sure writing is clear, consistent, correct and ready to publish in printed and online publications.

Average salary (a year)

£22,000 Starter

to

£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

University

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

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

You may need subject matter expertise or a specific degree to work in specialist publications, like scientific, medical or technical journals.

Work experience at university

You may find it useful to get work experience during your studies.

Some publishers offer work shadowing, work experience or internship 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

Apprenticeship

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

It usually takes a year and 6 months to complete as a mix of learning on the job and in the classroom.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information

Work

You could start as an editorial assistant at a publishing company to build up your experience editing and proofreading.

This would also allow you to build a portfolio of your work which you can show to potential employers.

Volunteering

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:

  • shadowing someone who works in publishing
  • working on a student magazine or website
  • doing 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

As a copy editor, you might:

  • 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 content written by more than one writer
  • make sure the meaning of the text is clear
  • check for legal issues like libel or breach of copyright

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

With experience, 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

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a copy editor right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Journalism - NCTJ Level 5 Diploma (January fasttrack start)

  • Provider: THE CITY OF LIVERPOOL COLLEGE
  • Start date: 23 January 2023
  • Location: LIVERPOOL

Freelance journalism

  • Provider: THE CITY LITERARY INSTITUTE
  • Start date: 10 July 2023
  • Location: London

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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