Editor in Chief Job Description

Editors in chief manage and oversee the content produced for publications or websites. This includes reviewing all content produced, such as articles and photographs, developing strategies and style guidelines, and representing the brand at social events throughout the year. Editors in chief work in an office-based environment and typically work full time, although they may be required to work additional hours, particularly around deadlines. This job is well suited to people with strong business acumen, excellent writing and proofreading skills, networking and interpersonal skills, and the ability to guide a team towards business goals.


Editor in Chief Duties and Responsibilities

Editors in chief carry out a range of duties, which vary depending on the organization they work for. Based on job listings we analyzed, an editor in chief’s duties typically involve:

Editing Content

The editor in chief reviews all content, articles, and photographs for accuracy and appropriateness, providing suggestions where necessary to improve them.

Setting Editorial Guidelines

The editor in chief determines the editorial guidelines and tone of voice for the brand, ensuring that all content produced falls in line with this style.

Managing the Departmental Budget

From advertising to staff travel, the editor in chief manages the financial aspects of the publication’s content. This includes finding new and innovative ways to utilize funding to gain a broader readership and drawing up budget proposals.

Representing the Publication

An editor in chief acts as the publication’s representative at social functions or industry events; some travel may be required.

Hiring Editorial Staff Members

The editor in chief is responsible for hiring the staff for the content and editorial team, in particular, the hiring of assistant editors. The editor in chief works closely with these team members to develop editorial boards for upcoming publications, issues, or campaigns.


Editor in Chief Skills and Qualifications

An editor in chief should be passionate about writing and able to motivate a team. Typically, employers will require a bachelor’s degree in journalism or English, as well as previous experience and the following abilities:

  • Writing skills – editors in chief ensure that all written content is accurate, has good grammar, and syntax
  • Creativity – editors in chief are creative and passionate about finding new ways to expand the brand’s content
  • Interpersonal skills – editors in chief work closely with all departments and writers, guiding them in their work
  • Attention to detail – editors in chief spot mistakes and errors, ensuring the writing follows the style of the brand
  • Good judgment – editors in chief decide if stories are ethical and if there’s enough evidence to support them


Editor in Chief Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become an editor in chief is a bachelor’s degree in communications, English, journalism, or a similar subject. Employers also expect to see previous writing and copyediting experience, as well as experience in other forms of media, such as social media or newspapers. The industry editors in chief specialize in will determine the specific experience they’ll need – for example, fashion editors will be expected to have prior fashion experience, either through formal training or work experience.


Editor in Chief Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for an editor in chief is nearly $74,000, according to PayScale. Editors in chief in the 10th percentile earn around $42,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $136,000 a year. At the higher end of this pay spectrum, bonuses can reach as high as $16,000 in some companies.
Career length and location are the biggest factors affecting the potential pay for this job. Over half of companies offer dental coverage and nearly 75 percent provide medical coverage as part of their benefits package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the growth rate for this sector to decline by one percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn more about a career as an editor in chief:

What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing – This book examines editing as both an art and a career, gathering essays from 27 leading figures in book publishing about their work. A great reference for editors in the making, this guide sheds light on what to look for in an author, an editor’s role at each stage of the publishing process, and much more.

The Editor’s Companion – An editor’s goal is to help writers communicate more effectively, which is precisely what this book helps editors in chief to do. From content and what subjects to focus on, to using the right language and grammar, it’s an indispensable guide for anyone in an editor role.

McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook – This proofreading handbook helps to ensure all documents, no matter what the industry, are letter-perfect every time. The guide walks readers step by step through the proofreading process, providing all the tools necessary for an editor.

“3 Reasons You Need an Editor in Chief” – This post on the Gather Content blog covers why businesses need an editor in chief, and the benefits that having someone in this position can have on an organization.


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