A copy editor works on pieces of text (copy) for publication, ensuring it is free from errors, reads well and meets the house style. They usually work on books but may also work on journal or magazine articles.
You could be:
proofreading and correcting spelling and grammar
checking for factual errors, perhaps using the internet
ensuring the meaning of the text is clear and well written
consulting the author about any queries on their original copy
amending copy and rewriting where necessary
ensuring there is consistency in the style of the copy (house style)
checking for legal issues, such as copyright or libel
working with the artists to make sure the illustrations match up with the text.
Salaries for editors in publishing vary widely. The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries are usually around £18,000 to £25,000 a year. With experience this can rise to around £34,000 to £40,000 a year.
Freelance copy editors can set their own rates; the current recommendation by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a minimum of £26.90 an hour for proofreading and £31.30 an hour for copy editing (March 2022 rates).
You would carry out work on a computer and on printed (hard copy) documents.
You would often work under pressure to meet deadlines.
There are no standard entry requirements, but most editors have a degree. Any subject is acceptable, but publishing, journalism, media and English are particularly useful.
If your degree is in a different subject you can do a postgraduate course in publishing.
HNC (SCQF Level 7) and HND (SCQF Level 8) courses in journalism are available at Glasgow Clyde College (Cardonald Campus) and the City of Glasgow College.
Undergraduate (SCQF Level 9-10) and postgraduate (SCQF Level 11) degrees in journalism are offered by Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow Caledonian, Robert Gordon, Stirling, Strathclyde and West of Scotland universities.
Entry to a degree course usually requires 4-5 Highers and 2 subjects at National 5, normally including English. HNCs and HNDs require 1-3 Highers plus some subjects at National 5. Many courses will ask for entry qualifications above the minimum.
Publishing postgraduate courses are available at Edinburgh Napier and Stirling universities.
You would usually start as an editorial assistant or other junior position before progressing to copy editor.
Having contacts in the industry, for example by doing work placements, is an advantage.
If you have professional experience in a particular field such as law, science, technology or business, you might find work with a specialist trade journal.