Job Description & Hours Per Week for an Editor in Chief

by M.T. Wroblewski
Editors should possess sterling credentials to command the respect of their subordinates.

Editors should possess sterling credentials to command the respect of their subordinates.

If you’re debating whether to apply for a position as an editor-in-chief, you may wish to assess your comfort level with a sign that says “The buck stops here” on your desk. For many chiefs, such a sign is apropos, whether they are working for a print or online publication, because many of the “big” editorial decisions fall within their purview. Size up a typical job description for an editor-in-chief, as well as the hours and pay, before investing in a new sign for your desk.

Support the mission of the organization and ensure that its policies are followed and its editorial standards are upheld. Serve as a goodwill ambassador in the business community at large and as a spokesman for the publication in professional venues.

Oversee and resolve disputes between editors, writers and other staff members who are subordinates. A typical newsroom includes assistant city editors, a city editor, a metropolitan editor and a managing editor – all of whom usually supervise writers, photographers, graphic artists and freelance writers.

Interview and hire those staff members who serve in subordinate editorial roles. An editor-in-chief also may be consulted on hiring decisions in other departments, such as sales and circulation.

Serve as the final arbiter on editorial decisions. Although editors-in-chief rarely edit or revise content on a daily basis, they may be pressed into action during a crisis or a major editorial project. They also can exercise veto power over publishing decisions.

Interact regularly with managers in other key departments, which might include sales, marketing, circulation and finance. Editors-in-chief must learn about all facets of the organization as a business, even though many are likely to have a strong editorial background.

Engage in short- and long-term strategic planning, perhaps in tandem with other departments. Research developments within the industry with a careful eye on competitors.

Create initiatives that bolster the publication’s profile and profitability. Such initiatives might include everything from creating a new monthly column to forging new strategic marketing alliances.

Expect a long workday. Editors-in-chief rarely clock a standard eight-hour day, especially if they work for an organization with employees who cover both day and evening shifts. In general, a 10-hour shift is more likely, and the average salary reflects the potential disparity. Editors can earn between $30,000 to more than $100,000 a year. The median salary was $51,470 in May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  • Job opportunities for editors-in-chief are expected to remain stable through 2020, according to the BLS. Although print media continue to wage battle with online publications, while the latter face new competitors almost daily, many people remain undaunted by these challenges and gravitate to the media industry for employment.


About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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