Starting a career as an editor involves reading author’s manuscripts and professionally improving them.  This career path is among a wide selection of advanced professional careers for seasoned writers. Therefore, this career is more suitable for people who love writing and reading. This is because an editor’s success and job satisfaction lean heavily on these tendencies.


An editor examines and proofreads a wide range of communications such as newspapers, novels, magazines as well as educational materials and websites. Generally, they are responsible for analysing written materials as well as helping writers in reaching their intended audience.


In this piece, I will walk you through the requirements needed to start a career as an editor. I will also discuss the various types of editors and their roles.


How to Become an Editor

  1. Prepare from Secondary School

    It would help if you started building a foundation in English and Literature at this level. This will be helpful as you gain admission into the university. Additionally, it will enable you to have a smooth transition into this career path. You must have a strong foundation in English Language, Literature, creative writing, etc. Furthermore, you should have a minimum of credits in your O’level certificates including literature-related subjects.

  2. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    A bachelor’s degree is important in this career path. It will enable you to have a strong foundation in areas such as writing, critical thinking and English language. You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in English from an accredited institution. Additionally, you can also earn degrees in disciplines such as journalism, communications and creative writing.

  3. Gain Experience

    It would help if you had a good level of experience in writing and editing to start a career as an editor. This experience can be obtained through internships or entry-level positions. Additionally, you can also gain experience by working as a freelance writer. You can also gain experience in places based on your area of specialisation and interests. You can apply for internships such as magazine internships, publishing, newspaper, book editorials, etc.

  4. Choose an Area of Specialisation

    There are various areas of specialisation to explore as an editor. You can explore these areas depending on your interests or experience level. You can choose an area such as content editor, copy editor, line editor, technical editor, managing etc.

  5. Build your Skills

    As an editor, you need skills such as writing, editing, critical thinking and English language. You can develop these skills by taking courses, attending workshops and reading. Additionally, you can also practice your editing skills in your writing or with others’ work.

  6. Obtain Additional Certifications

    You can acquire additional certifications in editing. These certificates can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge to potential employers. Additionally, it can give you a higher advantage over other editors in the industry.

  7. Build your Portfolio

    You must build a portfolio of your work and experiences over the years. This will be proof of your level of expertise to potential employers. Additionally, this can show how consistent you are with building your skills.

  8. Join Professional Associations

    You must join a professional association for editors. This can allow you to network with professional editors and colleagues, Additionally, this can give you the chance to have access to job and mentorship opportunities.


Types of Editors

  1. Content Editors

    A content editor is in charge of making sure that the content is understandable, simple, and captivating. Additionally, they assist writers in enhancing their writing style, voice, and framework.

  2. Technical Editor

    A technical editor proofreads technical materials such as user guides, software documentation, and scientific articles. Furthermore, they verify that the written material is correct, succinct, and easy to grasp for the intended readers.

  3. Developmental Editor

    A developmental editor collaborates with writers to help them build their concepts, storylines, characters, and general structure. Additionally, they offer suggestions for improving the general rhythm of the tale, storyline, and personality arcs.

  4. Copy Editor

    A copy editor checks written content for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax mistakes. Additionally, they also look for coherence in language and voice, making sure the text follows a set of rules.

  5. Line Editor

    A line editor is in charge of analysing text on a line-by-line basis, to increase readability and flow. Furthermore, they may also propose reorganising phrases or sections.

  6. Managing Editor

    A managing editor is in charge of coordinating the entire editorial process from beginning to end. Secondly, they collaborate with writers, editors, and publishers to ensure that content is provided on time, fulfils quality standards, and is priced appropriately.


Important Skills Required for Editors

  1. Attention to Detail
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. Communication
  5. Technical Knowledge
  6. Knowledge of Style
  7. Knowledge of Grammar
  8. Timeliness
  9. Proofreading
  10. Good Judgement


Universities in Africa that Offer Journalism/English

  1. University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  2. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  3. Cairo University, Egypt
  4. University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  5. North-West University, South Africa
  6. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  7. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  8. Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
  9. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  10. University of Ghana, Ghana
  11. Rhodes University, South Africa
  12. Covenant University, Nigeria
  13. Tunis University, Tunisia
  14. University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  15. Makerere University, Uganda
  16. University of Botswana, Botswana
  17. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  18. Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
  19. University of Sousse, Tunisia
  20. University of Calabar, Nigeria


In Conclusion, starting a career as an editor requires you to be a well-versed reader as well as a proficient writer. It is important to acquire degrees in relevant disciplines as an editor. However, developing the required skills will enable you to work efficiently as an editor. Furthermore, you should learn the basics of the sector you wish to work in as an editor and develop your skills in it.


Good luck!

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