3 answers

Which degree is more advantageous for a copy editor?

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100% of 3 Pros

3 answers

Ken’s Answer

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The best way to determine what might be the most advantageous degree for you to pursue to become a copy editor would be to get to know yourself better to determine if this is a suitable career area for you based on how your personality traits relate to successful people in that field. When you have developed more of a focus, you can talk to people involved in journalism and copy editing to see what they do, how they got there, and what advice they might have for you.


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .


Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
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Stefania’s Answer

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Hi Emily,

Copy editing has widespread opportunity -- you can work anywhere from journalism (journalism major) to editing online content (media) or advertising print campaigns (advertising/marketing). The art of detail orientation and perfecting content is terrific and marketable, but I would start by narrowing down your focus to an industry you see yourself working in. You can start by checking out sites like BLS.gov (Occupational Outlook Handbook) and O*Net's MyNextMove.org to get a sense of the type of jobs you can have as a copyeditor, what they pay, where they are located, the type of careers they offer, etc. See what descriptions appeal to you -- certainly something more Communications or Media oriented would probably open up more opportunities for you. Having said that, if your passion and focus is set on Journalism then that's perhaps what you would pursue. Think about your favorite classes as well. Make sure you expose yourself to different ones to get a sense of what you enjoy doing. What was it about the courses you enjoyed most?

Stefania recommends the following next steps:

  • Visit https://www.mynextmove.org/ to get a sense of job outlooks under copyediting in different domains including Media, Journalism, Marketing, English, Communications, etc.
  • BLS.gov Occupational Outlook Handbook
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Sean’s Answer

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English or a related major are good foundational courses of study. It will be helpful to have a solid working knowledge of at least AP and Chicago styles, excellent grammar, and spelling. The best course to take is to get as much first-hand experience as you can. Most places hiring a copy editor will give you some kind of test during the interview process. That's where knowing the styles, grammar, and spelling will be crucial. Once you do get a copy editing job, the trickier part will be to use that expertise in a flexible professional setting. Know the rules backwards and forwards so that when your client or audience needs them to be broken, you can make sure they're done so consistently and clearly.
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