Book Editors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you have an interest in a career as an editor, the most obvious classes that will prepare you include English, literature, and composition classes. You should also become familiar and comfortable working with word processing programs, either through taking a computer science class or through your own schoolwork. Taking journalism classes will give you the opportunity to practice different writing styles, including short feature pieces and long investigative stories. Art classes can also be useful to learn the basics of photography and illustration, and to learn about elements of design and page appearance. Take advantage of any clubs or extracurricular activities that will give you a chance to write or edit. Joining the school newspaper staff is a great way to explore different tasks in publishing, such as writing, editing, layout, and printing.

Postsecondary Training

A college degree is a requirement for entry into the field of book editing. For general editing, a degree in English or journalism is particularly valuable, although most degrees in the liberal arts are acceptable. Degrees in other fields, such as the arts, history, sciences, psychology, or mathematics, can be useful in publishing houses that produce books related to those fields. Textbook and technical/professional book houses in particular seek out editors with strengths in certain subject areas.


Several colleges and universities offer programs in which students can earn certificates after taking a certain number of classes about topics such as publishing basics, proofreading, copyediting, and copyright. Schools that offer these programs include the City College of New York, Columbia University, New York University, Pace University, University of Chicago, and the University of Denver. A full list of colleges and universities that offer these programs can be found at 

Other Education or Training

A variety of webinars, conference seminars, and other continuing education opportunities are offered by professional associations such as the American Copy Editors Society, Association of American Publishers, Association of Publishers for Special Sales, Editorial Freelancers Association, and the Independent Book Publishers Association. Topics include writing, editing, proofreading, developing a freelance business, social media, and technology. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for book editors.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Previous experience as a writer, reporter, or assistant editor is needed to work as a book editor.

Book editors should have a sharp eye for detail and a compulsion for accuracy (of both grammar and content). Intellectual curiosity, self-motivation, and a respect for deadlines are important characteristics for book editors to have. Knowledge of word processing and desktop publishing programs is necessary as well.

It goes without saying that if you are seeking a career in book editing, you should not only love to read, but love books for their own sake as well. If you are not an avid reader, you are not likely to go far as a book editor. The craft and history of bookmaking itself is also something in which a young book editor should be interested. A keen interest in any subject, be it a sport, a hobby, or an avocation, can lead you into special areas of book publishing.