Different Types of Magazine Writing and Editing Jobs

Whether you’re looking for a magazine writing job or pitching an article idea, you’ll find this list of editors and writers helpful. Magazine editorial staff ranges from the editor-in-chief to the editorial assistant – and both jobs contain their share of joy and pain!

Here’s a taste of what a magazine editor-in-chief can do:

“Not long ago, Canada’s oldest women’s magazine seemed headed for irrelevance,” wrote Robert Fulford in Toronto Life in August, 2003. “Under Rona Maynard, however, Chatelaine has been transformed from a glamour and celebrity magazine into a ‘personal empowerment vehicle.’ Today, after 75 years, it’s thriving as never before.”

Rona Maynard was in charge when Chatelaine was dubbed the most financially successful magazine in Canada. She gave it a facelift that included a perkier bottom line – but only after struggling with depression, family problems, and a nasty taste in her mouth from her previous editorial job at Maclean’s.

The road from editorial intern or assistant to editor in chief can be a tough row to hoe — but it also can be incredibly rewarding! Here’s a list of magazine writing jobs for writers and editors…

Different Types of Magazine Writing and Editing Jobs

Book publishing companies have a similar hierarchy: editor in chief, managing editor, senior/associate/assistant/specialty editors, and editorial assistants.

Editor-in-Chief or Editor

The editor in chief of a magazine is responsible for the editorial content of the magazine. Like a CEO, the editor in chief delegates many responsibilities to other staff at the magazine. If you’re a freelance writer, you wouldn’t normally pitch an article idea to the editor-in-chief (though I have been known to!). As far as job experience goes, editors-in-chief have probably experienced every type of magazine writing job imaginable, from managing editor to editorial intern.

Managing Editor

The managing editor reports directly to the editor in chief, and supervises the daily activities of the magazine. The managing editor supervises the staff writers and freelance writers – and is the editor you should pitch your freelance article ideas to! Managing editors also write and edit special projects and feature articles, and can have at least one assistant editor who reports to him or her.

Senior, Associate, Assistant, or Specialty Editors

The number and type of senior, associate, assistant, or specialty editors depends on the size and type of the magazine. These editors may double as staff writers – a typical way to start a writing career at a publication or book publisher, whether it’s a trade magazine or a startup ezine – and are often specialists in a certain field (eg, beauty editor, travel editor, etc). These staff writers or editors also do some copyediting.

Editorial Assistants

If you want a writing career in the glamorous magazine publishing industry, you’ll probably have to start out as an editorial assistant (or an editorial intern, which isn’t typically a paid position). These are entry level positions, which can involve staff writing and editing. The exact duties of editorial assistants depend on the publication or book publishing company.

Different magazines assign different duties to the managing editors, senior editors, editorial assistants, and editorial interns – depending on the size, budget, and type of magazine. If you want a writing career, it’s important to remember that you have to start on the bottom rung, especially now (many print magazines are struggling financially).

And, heed Maynard’s advice to writers:

“Protect the dreaming, aspiring part of yourself,” says Maynard. “It’s the keeper of all your strength, all your wisdom. Don’t undermine it with busy work.”

If you want to work in the writing and editing business, you may find the book Careers for Writers & Others Who Have a Way with Words by Bob Bly helpful.

For tips on freelancing for magazines, read 8 Things You Need to Know About Succeeding as a Freelance Writer.

Are you looking for a job on a the editorial staff of a magazine? I welcome your thoughts and questions below…


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9 thoughts on “Different Types of Magazine Writing and Editing Jobs”

  1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Page and George…glad the post was helpful!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..A Top 10 Writing Blog – Quips and Tips for Successful Writers =-.

  2. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for demystifying the world of magazines and the various editors. So far I’m lucky to have had fairly straightforward dealings with the editors at the magazines I’ve been published at.

    It’s great that you’re encouraging aspiring writers to look down this road. It sounds like the possibilities are nearly limitless!

    .-= George Angus´s last blog post ..Buzzing Around the New Blog of the Week =-.

  3. I am just starting out in my writing career and this information is really helpful. Thank you.
    .-= Page Wright´s last blog post ..All these words I couldn’t say =-.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jinny. I like Rona Maynard’s advice to writers, too — she really walks her talk!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Networking Tips for Successful Writers – How to Get More Writing Jobs =-.

  5. Hi,

    I really like Rona Maynard’s advice to writers. I don’t want to be an editor of a magazine, but it’s good to know my options.

    Thanks for this post.


  6. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Randy. While pulling it together, I kept wondering if perhaps it’s not that worthwhile to write about editorial jobs at print magazines, when it seems like so many publications are folding.

    But, these editors’ jobs do also apply to ezines and book publishers, so it’s not a total waste…I hope!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Writing Careers – Jobs for Magazine Staff Writers and Editors =-.