The first thing one needs to have to become an editor is great writing and reading skills. If you are not a proficient writer or reader, you cannot be a professional editor. It is that simple. If you are not a solid writer, you cannot edit properly, nor can you understand what writers have gone through to put together his or her piece. If you are not a proficient reader, you don’t understand the variety of writing styles available, and also the variety of grammatical and syntactical styles. In addition, you should know the difference between US and UK editing guidelines in terms of grammar, punctuation, formatting, and vocabulary.
But really, this is the first step. An editor should be a patient and meticulous person. Editing requires enormous amounts of patience. You cannot rush through pieces of writing and claim you have edited them. That would be called a quick proofreading. Instead, you must take each word and each punctuation mark into consideration, and edit a piece at least three times to make it professional. That goes along with being meticulous. You need to have an examiner’s eye for writing. You can enjoy what you are reading while editing, but you should be seeing it under a microscope, so to say.
Jack of All Trades
Being an editor always requires you to be up to speed about current events, history, and a wide variety of subjects. As an editor, you will be working on documents from diverse backgrounds, and if you don’t have any knowledge in these subjects, you have to do research just to edit adequately. You should read international news every day, and read up on world history, and be genuinely curious about every major subject of study. You don’t have to be an expert in these subjects, but you at least should have a cursory knowledge in science, mathematics, literature, history, art, and all other major subjects one takes in high school and beyond.
So, first you should be a solid reader, writer, and enthusiast in a vast amount of subjects. You should also be patient and meticulous. But you should also obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in either journalism, writing, literature, editing, communication, speech, or linguistics. Other degrees can yield fine results as well, but these are safe bets.
After receiving a degree, try out for internships or volunteer positions that would require editing. Remote editing jobs can be at the entry level as well. Build up your resume slowly and surely. Stay in a job position for at least six months, though one year minimum is preferable. Try to move up to higher positions if possible, or at least make sure you have a variety of editing positions on your resume. Say you were an editor for a newspaper company one year—be a web content editor for an IT company the next year or the next few years. Editing is a wide field, from science editor jobs, marketing editor jobs, and much more.