Other than the content, editing science material is similar to any other kind of editing and requires the same fundamental writing, editing and language skills. At least a four-year college or university degree normally is required. The degree can be in the more traditional majors for editors such as journalism or communications, it can be in technical writing and editing, or it can be in a scientific or related field. Many people who perform science editing have advanced degrees in scientific fields. Generally, to become a science editor, you would be either an editor with a background or aptitude for science or an engineer or scientist with strong editing skills.
Science editors work in a variety of industries and can be members of a staff or freelancers. Many work for magazines that focus on science or nature. Others edit articles for general interest publications that sometimes run science-related content.
Publishers of academic and trade books science editors. Many science editors work at scientific journals editing highly technical research articles and for companies producing scientific and technical products. Targeting the publications and companies that produce scientific content is key if you are seeking to become a science editor.
As with other editing positions, becoming a science editor often involves climbing the editorial ladder. An individual at a magazine who is seeking to become a science editor might start out as an editorial assistant or assistant editor and take on progressively more responsibility from there. The prospective science editor also might be a magazine writer or a book writer and work his or her way into a science editor position.
At corporations, science editors can come out of the engineering and scientific ranks or from more traditional editing backgrounds, depending upon the organization. The same holds true at technical journals. The editor might be a doctor in the scientific area or an editor with a strong aptitude for science, depending on the journal and its requirements. In any case, the requisite editing skills and an interest and understanding of scientific subjects are necessary if you want to become a science editor.
Good analytical skills to recognize inconsistencies in text are important for science editors. An ability to understand technical jargon and complex ideas is often necessary. Strong communication skills are beneficial to explain editing changes to often highly educated scientists, engineers and others. Having the focus and patience to review numbers and other data that appear in charts, graphs and listings is helpful.