Media

Sub-editor

Sub-editors check written content before it’s published in newspapers, magazines and on websites.

Annual Salary

£20,000 £60,000

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

Working hours

Variable

What's it all about?

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • making sure articles are accurate, read well and do not break libel or copyright laws
  • re-writing articles to make them clearer or shorter
  • making sure articles follow house style
  • writing headlines, captions and short paragraphs which lead into articles, and ‘panels’ which break up the text
  • making sure articles are in the right place on each page
  • using page layout and image editing software
  • sending completed pages to the printers
  • working closely with reporters, editors, designers, production staff and printers

University

You’ll usually need a degree in a relevant subject like:

  • English
  • journalism
  • media studies

You can find relevant courses accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

You can do a postgraduate journalism course if your first degree is not in a related subject.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

Apprenticeship

You can work towards this role by starting with an advanced apprenticeship as a publishing assistant.

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

Other Routes

Contacts gained during work experience are very important as many vacancies aren't advertised.

You'll need to get some experience before applying for your first job in publishing. To build up your experience you can:

  • volunteer for student and community newspapers
  • keep an online blog
  • have an online presence on sites such as Twitter
  • submit articles and reviews to local papers or websites

You may also find it helpful to take a specific sub-editing course if you already have some experience in a media role. Brighton Journalist Works has an intensive 7-day Certificate in Sub-Editing that can prepare you for the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) sub-editing exam. 

The NCTJ lists several accredited newspaper courses offering Production Journalism as a specialist option of a journalism course. 

The Professional Publishers Association (PPA) also runs accredited industry-recognised qualifications in journalism.

For many sub-editing jobs, you'll also need to be able to use desktop publishing software like QuarkXpress and InDesign.

£20,000 £60,000

Starter salary: £20,000

Experienced salary: £25,000 to £40,000

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) lists recommended rates for freelance sub-editors.

These figures are a guide.

Variable

You'll need to be flexible about your working hours, as you could have early starts and late finishes to meet deadlines. The period immediately before going to print, which could be daily, weekly or monthly, will be particularly busy.

You'll usually be based in an open-plan office, which is likely to be hectic and noisy most of the time.

With experience, you may be able to progress to production editor or chief sub-editor.

You could also use your journalism experience to move into PR or work as a press or communications officer.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • excellent English grammar and spelling
  • headline writing skills
  • excellent attention to detail
  • excellent IT skills
  • research skills
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