Copy editor

proof reader

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would check text written for books, journals and magazines, take out any errors and make sure it’s ready to be published for readers.

You’d carefully read the author’s manuscript (or 'copy') and make any necessary changes. You’d make sure the meaning is clear for readers.

You’d speak with the author to tactfully explain what changes you have made and why. You’d also ask them for more information if there’s anything in the text you don’t understand.

You would:

  • Correct errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Check the length of the text matches the publisher’s requirements
  • Make sure the text is in the publisher's or publication’s house style
  • Make sure that the meaning of the text is clear
  • Check that references are quoted correctly and pictures have the right captions
  • Check for possible legal issues, such as libel, partiality or breach of copyright
  • Resolve queries with the author
  • Consult with the author if extensive revision of the text is needed

Most of your work would be done on a computer but you may also sometimes work on a printout, or hard copy, of the author’s typed or word-processed manuscript.

You could work on books but you might also edit articles for journals and text for brochures, instruction manuals and websites. You might need to work quickly to meet tight deadlines.

Working conditions

Hours

As a copy editor working in-house, you would usually work normal office hours, Monday to Friday. Your days may be longer at busy times or when you have tight deadlines. As a freelance copy editor, you would have more freedom to decide your own hours. You would still need to meet publishing deadlines.

Environment

As a copy editor working in-house, you would work in an office. Working freelance, you could be based at home.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Understanding
  • Listening
  • Written communication
  • Cooperating
  • Researching
  • Observation
  • Creative

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

There are no set qualifications required for entry to this role but many copy editors study subjects such as journalism, English, advertising, communication, marketing or media.

You can enter some National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5). 

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND. Entry to a postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) require a relevant degree and may require experience. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses)
  • administrative subjects
  • ICT subjects
  • Maths
  • Social studies subjects such as media