Copy editor

proof reader
Print and publishing, marketing and advertising

Career outlook for copy editor

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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.


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

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

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

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

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that's right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

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


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