How Much Does an Editor Get Paid?

Some editors are in charge of manuscript acquisitions.
Some editors are in charge of manuscript acquisitions. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Most readers usually think of writers and reporters sitting in solitude in front of a keyboard to produce books and articles, but an entire field of editors also works behind the scenes in publishing. Editors play many roles, whether working primarily as a proofreader, such as a copy editor, acting as a manager and setting a publication’s editorial policies, as with managing and desk editors, or in charge of reading and purchasing manuscripts, as in a publishing firm. Because of the variety of job duties performed by editors, pay ranges for the position vary greatly.

Average Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 105,040 editors were at work in all industries in the United States as of May 2009. Regardless of their responsibilities or industry, editors earn an average annual salary $58,440, which is equivalent to $28.10 per hour. Editors’ earnings vary widely, depending upon the environment in which they work, which results in a wide range of salaries in the industry. The half of all editors with earnings closest to the median earnings receive between $37,340 and $71,090 each year.

Managing Editor Salaries

Managing editors are upper and middle management positions in charge of the daily operations of a title or a group of titles. Managing editors sort story ideas, make assignments, supervise copy editors and designers and usually possess at least seven years of experience in the publishing world. Managing editors earn a median annual salary of $82,371 as of April 2011, according to Similar to the wide range in salaries in their field, the 50 percent of managing editors with the most average salaries earn between $67,666 and $100,748.

Copy Editor Salaries

Copy editors primarily focus on proofreading duties, ensuring that published articles and books are free of errors in grammar and typos, and in many situations, aren’t in management-level positions. Because of this, they earn much less than managing editors, with a mean annual salary of $56,093 as of April 2011, according to Copy editors typically earn between $48,911 and $65,422 each year, although the 10 percent with the highest earnings in the field earn $73,916 or more each year.

Industry Comparisons

The vast majority, nearly 60 percent, of editors work for newspapers, magazines and book publishing companies, where they earn salaries close to the profession’s average, receiving $58,580 annually as of May 2009, according to the BLS. Editors who work in broadcasting editing scripts, not video or audio, earn slightly less, receiving $56,200, although only about 3,660 were employed in those industries in 2009. Only a small handful of editors work for accounting, tax and bookkeeping firms – 130 nationwide – but they receive the largest salaries in the industry, earning an average yearly salary of $107,320.

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