The magazine features editor is in charge of the main ‘in-depth’ articles and reports that get published in print magazines and online publications. Trade publications (those that work on highly-specialised subject matters) hire features editors as well.
The job of a magazine features editor goes beyond merely editing. The features section of a publication is its centrepiece – a signifier of its editorial stance and an indicator of its tone and core audience.
Features editors are central to deciding these factors: they choose the topics to cover, assign and commission the appropriate writers and photographers, edit the articles and choose the photos, as well as overseeing the final product before it goes to publication.
Salary & benefits
The annual salary of a magazine feature editor varies largely depending on what magazine or publication they work for. It’s not unusual to earn from £30,000 to £40,000 a year, but some publications can offer pay as low as £15,000 a year. However, the really big cheeses can earn as much as £60,000 to £70,000, so that’s something to aim for!
The job can be daunting and stressful. It should be a typical nine-to-five job, but overtime work is common, especially during article submission deadlines and before the publication is printed. Some editors actually write articles too (particularly the high profile ones), although the likelihood of this depends on the publication.
Many features editors freelance for other magazines on top of their principal employers. However, this is only possible if there is no clash of interests, as, generally, the respective publications should not be competing with each other.
For instance, an editor for a fashion magazine cannot work for another fashion editor, even on a part time/freelance basis. However, the editor could write for a current events magazine.
The position is a mid-level position, so many magazine features editors will have worked their way up from positions as writers, journalists, and editorial assistants. They will frequently have journalism and media studies-related degrees. The best candidates will have a balance of experience and academic degrees.
Trade publications may require certain academic credentials. For instance, many science-related publications prefer applicants with scientific degrees, although, in general, no particular degree is preferred over the other.
In fact, what it really depends on is the applicant’s experience in the journalism field and in editorial work. Aspiring magazine features editors should be able to prove that they can come up with engaging and riveting features for the publications.
They need to know the trends and what topics and issues are currently captivating their market. As you can probably imagine, good organization and amazing writing skills are necessities. An editor needs to be a good writer first before he or she can be a magazine features editor. After all, how else would they recognise quality writing?
Training & progression
Due to the fact that this is far from an entry-level position, magazine features editors are expected to know the ropes. Consequently, it is pretty unlikely for employers to offer extensive training programmes for new editors.
However, there are certificate courses that cover relevant topics and subjects, such as features writing and production design. These courses are especially helpful for editors who came from an unrelated field – for instance, these could be particularly beneficial for a writer whose background liesin fiction and freelance journalism, but who wants to break into the editorial side of things.
There are also courses on media law (a must for anyone in editorial positions) and current events/public affairs.
Magazine features editors are usually next in line to be promoted to associate editors and managing editors. However, these positions are limited in a publication, so some move from one magazine to another in order to gain promotions.