Editorial assistant: job description

Editorial assistant: job description

Editorial assistants support editorial staff in the production and publishing of journals, magazines, books and digital products.
Almost 150,000 new book titles and 8,000 magazines are published in the UK each year.

What does an editorial assistant do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

The majority of would-be editors begin their careers as editorial assistants, progressing through the editorial ranks once relevant skills and experience have been gained. Much of the work includes the following routine editorial duties:

  • writing and editing copy
  • proofreading and fact checking articles
  • interviewing contributors
  • researching images
  • calculating expenditure
  • planning and organising projects
  • researching and commissioning features and new titles
  • commissioning articles
  • liaising with authors, marketing staff, designers and printers.

Typical employers of editorial assistants

  • Publishing houses
  • Magazines
  • Local and national newspapers
  • Press agencies
  • Academic journals
  • Professional associations
  • Large businesses with ‘in-house' magazines

Freelance editorial and proofreading work is also available if you can build up a network of contacts. Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers, relevant publications such as The Bookseller, Campaign and Print Week, their online equivalents, and on TARGETjobs. Advertised vacancies attract intense competition, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable. Find out more about how to make speculative applications.

Qualifications and training required

Although you don’t technically need a degree to get into editorial, entry into the profession without a degree is unusual.

Any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession, although a relevant qualification such as journalism, media studies or English can help. Specialist knowledge such as a science or languages background may be necessary for some opportunities. Previous writing or editing experience is essential.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the media section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for editorial assistants

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Proficiency with IT packages like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite
  • Proofreading skills
  • Attention to detail

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