Copywriters craft messages for everything from billboards and bumper stickers to speeches and catalogs, while copy editors make sure these messages are as good as they can get. Copy editors need to be great copy writers themselves. They must know what makes for compelling reading by being able to see what works and what does not.
What Copywriters Do
Copywriters create written messages for news agencies, publications, business clients, advertisers and marketers. Copywriters identify and define the messages their clients want to get across and turn them into compelling pieces of writing designed to educate, inform, entertain and motivate. Copywriters must have solid research skills and the ability to communicate and converse with many types of people. They also must have the ability to translate complex or technical concepts into language their target audience demands.
What Copy Editors Do
Copy editors check written pieces for errors and suggest ways to improve the work. Copy editors find and fix grammatical and spelling mistakes, make sure language is consistent, and ensure that the content is appropriate for the readership. They also look for what is missing in a piece of writing, so a copy editor must be more than a grammarian. She must be analytical and able to suggest questions for the writer to ask in the rewrite.
Copywriters at Work
Some copywriters work for publications or agencies, but many copywriters today work freelance from home, thanks to the Internet. A bachelor's degree, typically in English, journalism or communications, is required for most staff positions in copywriting, and in such a competitive field, even most freelancers have a degree with a writing or technical background. The median annual wage for full-time professional writers was $55,420 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Copy Editors at Work
Some copy editors work at publications or in offices for marketing and advertising agencies, but like copywriters, many copy editors also work on their own. Editors must keep projects to strict production deadlines and often work on several projects at once, so the work can be exhausting and repetitive. Generally, editors have bachelor's degrees and a deep knowledge of style manuals, such as Chicago or AP. The median annual wage of editors was $51,470 in 2010, according to the BLS.