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How do I Become a Health Editor?

Article Details
  • Written By: Ron Marr
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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To become a health editor you do not need to be a marathon runner, weight lifter, nutrition specialist, or gym rat. You need not be a devotee of organic foods, holistic medicine, or even regular check-ups. Your editing skills and knowledge matter far more in this position than do your personal habits or lifestyle. You must know how to manage staff writers and freelancers, create appropriate topics, assign articles, and edit manuscripts to the standards utilized by the publication by which you are employed.

Most editors begin as writers, something that is a truism for newspapers, magazines, and online venues. Thus, if you wish to become a health editor, you would be well advised to first attend a reputable journalism school. This could help you place your foot in the door for that critical first job as a general assignment reporter. In this position, you will cover every topic under the sun, but you can also let your editor know you have a particular interest in health issues. If you’ve been reliable with deadlines, and have provided quality writing, he will most likely begin assigning you health-related topics whenever possible.

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In most journalism circles, you will have to work your way up the ladder. To further your goal to become a health editor, you should jump at available writing assignments that fit within your niche. More times than not, especially on larger publications, your experience will eventually land you a slot covering the health beat on a nearly full-time basis. You will still cover a variety of topics, and you will likely take part in composing special sections, news stories, and features, but your primary job will be to cover health issues.

If all goes as planned, you are now poised to become a health editor. You may remain on one publication and be hired from within, or you may want to take advantage of positions open at larger publications. Again, while you need not be athletic, or even a person who consumes five portions of vegetables a day, your expertise as a reporter will be invaluable. By this time you will likely be knowledgeable about such diverse topics as fitness, illnesses, nutrition, and policy debates over healthcare treatment and access.

Initially, you will probably take a position as an assistant editor. This is where you sharpen your editing chops, becoming as familiar with styles, techniques, and brainstorming sessions as you are with your health specialty. You will begin mentoring writers, searching for the ever-elusive typographical error, and assisting in assigning articles and composing pages. After a year or two spent rounding out your talents, you should be ready to apply to a publication as a lead health editor.

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