Job Description of a Magazine Editor

by Nathan McGinty, Demand Media

    A magazine editor is kind of like the captain of a ship, steering the editorial content of the publication along the course that they see as the best fit. Magazine editors don't have to just be good writers; they also must know how to manage people and schedules. It is usually hard work, but there are certain types of people who thrive in such a fast paced and dynamic world.

    Education

    The position of magazine editor generally requires that the candidate have at least a bachelor's degree, usually in English, journalism or communication. This requirement can vary for specialist publications, such as fashion, where a degree in a related field such as fashion design or merchandising, would be more appropriate. A post-graduate degree, such as a master's, can also help those who have an unrelated bachelor's degree but are looking to move into a magazine editor position.

    Writing

    One of the main job duties of an editor is to recognize and encourage writing talent in others, so any magazine editor worth her salt must have expertise in writing. Many magazine editors start off as reporters or columnists and work their way up to an editor's position. A thorough command of the English language is key for a magazine editor, as editors proof- and copyread stories by the entire magazine staff.

    Planning and Management

    Magazine editors are responsible for the editorial content of their magazines, so being able to formulate and plan editorial schedules takes up a good deal of an editor's time. Magazine editors meet with their staff at regular intervals to provide direction and ideas for upcoming issues. A good magazine editor should have the ability to delegate jobs to individuals on the staff in order to produce their magazine on time and on budget.

    Travel

    Depending on the type of magazine that you are working for, travel may be part of your job description. A fashion magazine editor, for example, could be sent to cover fashion shows in New York and Paris all in the same week. An editor for a car magazine may have to attend auto shows and demonstrations. Covering events on location also gives magazine editors the chance to meet contacts and other representatives in the industry that they're covering.

    Salary

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an editor in 2010 was $51,000 per year. This figure varies from market to market. In New York, for example, editorial salaries are higher both because of the expenses associated with living in New York, but also because much of the publishing industry is centered there, and competition for qualified editors is high.

    About the Author

    Nathan McGinty started writing in 1995. He has a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University, London. He has worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years, in positions ranging from tech support to marketing.