Art editor

Art editors use words and images to make magazines look good and easy to read.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


What's it all about?

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • laying out pages using the most suitable graphics and photographs
  • discussing ideas with colleagues, like journalists and editorial staff
  • hiring, and working with, freelance designers, illustrators and photographers
  • producing cover designs
  • setting an overall look and style for each issue
  • redesigning the publication to keep it up-to-date
  • making sure the layout of apps and digital magazines works well
  • managing photo shoots

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly


You can do a degree in:

  • graphic design
  • illustration
  • fine art
  • art and design
  • publishing

You'll usually need:

  • a foundation studies diploma in art and design 
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


You could apply for a job as an assistant editor after completing a college course. Relevant subjects include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Photography
  • Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Art and Design
  • Level 4 Diploma in Interactive Design and DevelopmentEntry requirements

You may need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course
  • 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course


You could get into this job by joining a magazine as a graphic designer or picture editor, then move on to become deputy art editor then editor.

Volunteering and experience

You should look to build up your contacts in the industry to help find paid work. You can do this by:

  • creating a blog or having a social media presence
  • building a website
  • designing published materials such as books, magazines, brochures, leaflets or websites for charities or student organisations

Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs if you've got the right skills and experience. For specialist magazines, you may have an advantage if you have a special interest or background in the publication's subject matter.

For example, an interest in science or architecture will be useful if you want to work on magazines covering those topics.

Further Information

Internships can be a good way to get experience. This will help you to build a portfolio that showcases your print designs and art layout skills to employers. It will also give you a better understanding of the magazine industry.

You may find it useful to join the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

You can find out more about working in magazine publishing from Creative Choices.

£18,000 to £40,000

Starter salary: £18,000

Experienced salary: £25,000 to over £32,000

These figures are a guide.


You’ll usually work 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. You may work overtime to meet important deadlines, like the magazine going to press.

You’ll usually be based in an office or design studio. There may be some travel to meetings or photo shoots within the UK or abroad.

You could become an art director, or move to advertising agency work.

You could use your experience and industry contacts to become self-employed or set up your own design agency.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • the ability to read English
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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