1. Home: Explore careers
  2. Copy editor

Copy editor

Alternative titles for this job include Sub-editor

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

Average salary (a year)

£24,000 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 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 and sub-editors have a degree. Most subjects are accepted.

You might improve your chances of finding work if you have a degree in a related subject like:

  • publishing
  • media
  • English
  • journalism

You can find relevant courses accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

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 placements 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


You can apply to do a Publishing Professional Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship to get into this role.

This typically takes around 2 years to complete and is a mix of workplace training and off-the-job study.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information


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

This would also allow you to create a portfolio of your work which you can show 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:

Some publishing houses run graduate training schemes and internships.

More Information

Career tips

Employers 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 tasks in a publishing company

If you want to work as a copy editor or sub-editor in journalism, the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) has advice on bursaries and funding to encourage greater diversity in journalism.

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 confidently

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 created by more than one writer
  • work closely with reporters, designers and production staff
  • check for legal issues like libel or breach of copyright
  • send completed pages to the printers

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
  • production editor

You could also do a Senior Journalist Level 7 Apprenticeship, leading to an industry-recognised qualification.

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

NCTJ L3 Cert in Journalism

  • Start date: 06 September 2024
  • Location: Warrington

NCTJ Diploma in Journalism (18 months - September)

  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Portsmouth

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.