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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
  • Publishers of online content

Freelance editorial and proofreading work is also available if you can build up a network of contacts. Freelance editorial and proofreading work is also available if you can build up a network of contacts. Vacancies are advertised on TARGETjobs and in relevant publications or online equivalents such as The Publishing Post, The Bookseller, Campaign and Print Week. Advertised vacancies attract intense competition, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable. The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a useful starting point to find contact details and other information about a wide range of publishing companies. 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.

A masters degree in publishing can be an advantage but it is not essential. Read our article on the benefits of postgraduate publishing courses (such as industry knowledge, work experience and networking opportunities) and how you can acquire these elsewhere if it’s not the right route for you.

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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Supported by

This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

Advertising feature by

This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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