Individuals who want to become a contributing editor should first develop the skills necessary to excel in the position. A contributing editor will need both strong proofreading skills and excellent writing ability, making it necessary that applicants first hone their crafts through both classes and experience. Knowledge of multiple editing styles, such as Modern Language Association (MLA) and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) formatting, will increase the number of positions available to an applicant, subsequently increasing his chances of securing a position. Applicants should also hone their organizational and management skills, as the job will likely require them to manage a team of writers alongside editing their work. It is also easier for an individual to become a contributing editor if he has significant work experience in the field; many contributing editors work for existing publications prior to their application.
In order to become a contributing editor, an applicant must first ensure that his skills are adequate for the job. Experts recommend that prospective editors take proofreading and writing classes offered by reputable universities, or by highly-regarded online services. If possible, applicants should take journalism courses or their equivalent for college. Other recommended classes include those on the different editing styles, as some publications will require extensive knowledge of a particular style; while some might prefer MLA formatting, others work with CMS. It is also helpful for applicants to study some of the more academic formats, such as American Psychological Association (APA) style, to further broaden their job options.
One of the best ways to become a contributing editor is to take every opportunity to gain work experience. If applicants are still in school, they should try to secure editor positions on one of the school's student publications. This allows them to hone their skills at an early age, while adding substantial credit to their resumes.
Another good way to earn experience is to work at a reputable publication. Most individuals will have to start as writers before being promoted to an editor position, but this gives them valuable insight into the work processes of a publication. Many offices train writers as they work, both in their writing ability and proofreading skills. Working for a reputable publication also broadens an individual's network, allowing him more opportunities to become a contributing editor as he meets and interacts with other industry professionals. The work experience also makes his resume more impressive, which will increase his chances of securing positions as a freelance editor.