How Much Do Editors Make? A Closer Look at Editor Average Salaries

If you are looking to make money working with words, you may want to take a closer look at how much do editors make and how to become one.

Writing can be a lucrative business if you are skilled at it, but it is just one way to make money working with words. Copy editing is also in high demand as writers and publishers need people to go through works with a fine-tooth comb.

If you feel that you are skilled with words, you may be wondering, “How much do editors make?” and “What do I need to do to work as a copy editor?”

The average salary of an editor will vary significantly depending on where the editor works, how much editing they do and whether or not they work full-time or on a freelance basis.

This guide will discuss what to expect for income as an editor and how to go about becoming one.

How Much Do Editors Make and What Do They Do?

How much do editors make?

If you feel that working as an editor is a good fit for your skillset, you need to know the basic qualifications for this field and the salary expectations for editors. Here is a breakdown of what editors do, what their qualifications are, and how much money they can expect to make.

Average Editor Salary

Many factors impact how much an editor makes, including where they live and the type of editing they do. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does publish an average base salary for editors.

In 2020, the BLS estimated the average salary for a book editor 2020 was $63,400 a year. Those in the lowest 10% range earned less than $33,629, while those in the highest 10% earned or $126,800, which indicates quite a bit of salary range. You might also be interested in learning how much does a proofreader make.

Factors That Impact An Editor’s Annual Salary

How much do editors make?

Many factors impact an editor’s salary. These include:

  • Location: Editors that live in areas with a high cost of living, like New York City, San Francisco or Boston, often make more than those who live in smaller, less expensive communities.
  • Type of Editing: A book editor working for a large publication full-time will likely make more than someone who edits articles on the side as a freelancer.
  • Type of Employer: According to the BLS, editors that work in religious, civic and professional organizations earn $71,520 annually, while those who work for newspaper and periodical publishers earn an average of $58,260 annually.
  • Years of Experience: Like many other positions, the longer you work as an editor, the more money you are likely to make.

These factors are the reason that there is such a range in salaries beyond the national average for editors. 

An Editor’s Job Description

Editors are the professionals who correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation for written works. They search text to find problems with grammar and syntax, so the finished piece reads clearly.

An editor corrects not just the mechanics of the piece, but also its overall flow. The editor may rearrange paragraphs and even rewrite the content to make it flow better. Most editors do not change the meaning of the piece but simply work with the author’s original piece to make it work better.

Education Requirements for Editors

Editors need a high level of skill in English grammar. This often means an article or book editor will have a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism. However, some schools offer certificates in editing and journalism that can open the door to an entry-level position for the average editor. 

Many editors will get their start as article or book writers. This can help them learn how to write well and makes them more appealing as an editor. Others will work as editorial assistants to gain work experience before applying for an editorial position. 

Types of Editors

There are different types of editors based on the type of work they edit. Some common job titles editors can hold include:

  • Book editors: Book editors work for publishing companies and edit books and manuscripts.
  • Journalistic editors: Journalistic editors work for magazines and newspapers to edit periodical content. 
  • Online editors: Online editors work for websites to edit press releases, website content and blogs. Even retail sites like Amazon hire editors to edit self-published works and online content.
  • Freelance editor: Freelancing can be highly lucrative for editors who can charge their own hourly rate for their services, without having to report to an employer. These self-employed professional editors can work for multiple publications or websites at the same time to earn an even higher income. 
  • Developmental editors: Developmental editors help authors plan the structure, outline and topic of their book, and may also coach them in writing. Developmental editing is different from traditional book editing in that the goal is to help with the writing process, rather than editing the grammar of the completed work.
  • Proofreader: Proofreading is a part of the editing process, and some people will create an income out of proofreading alone. 
  • Line editor: A line editor goes through a book or other written work line by line to make the writing clearer and more engaging. 

A Final Word on How Much Do Editors Make

If you find that your skills with grammar work better when you edit the work of others, then working as an editor might be the right fit. This job can be a lucrative one with average salaries in the $60,000s, and even higher for high-demand fields. 

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a language arts field, consider putting it to use as an editor. Advertise your services on LinkedIn and other social media platforms set an hourly wage, and see what comes of your efforts. You can partner with writers to help them polish and perfect their writing, and earn a good income doing so.

FAQs About How Much Do Editors Make

How much do editors make?

The average salary for an editor, according to the BLS, is $63,400 a year. This can be higher or lower depending on where an editor works and the type of editing they do.

How much do copy editors make?

Copy editors often work on a freelance basis and earn an hourly or per-word rate. According to Indeed, the average salary in 2021 for copy editors was $22.45 an hour.

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.