What salary should I expect as a young assistant editor for the monthly magazine of the leading organization of professional _________ engineers?
May 26, 2007 11:06 AM   Subscribe

What salary should I expect as a young assistant editor for the monthly magazine of the leading organization of professional _________ engineers?

Them: The magazine claims to have 32,000 professional readers across the world with significant "purchasing power." They charge $5,555 for a full page ad (though it drops if you place the same ad multiple times and obvs goes up a couple thousand if the ad is on the backpage or near the front cluttering up the reader's journey to the table of contents).

Me: I graduated college a year ago with a dual degree in History and ________ Engineering; have plenty of on-campus editorial, writing and layout experience; an English minor; and have spent the past year doing engineering work with some freelance writing in my spare time.

Based on the expensive urban location, Salary.com (which doesn't have "Assistant Editor" as an option, so I picked both "Reporter I" and "Communications Editor I"), puts me between 28k (low for "Reporter I") and as high as 75k (high for "Com Editor I").

Is 50-60k too high a hope for me to have, or just about right given that the ideal candidate for this job is a "________ engineering/print media" mutant. Also, among the engineering disciplines, this is typically one of the higher paying ones (i.e. not civil).

(Sorry, Civil E.'s! Some of my best friends are Civils: the jocks of the engineering world.)
posted by ProfLinusPauling to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Best answer: 50-60K seems a bit high to me, even if you're in NYC or SF. I'd put you at about 35-40, 45 max, if you went to an ivy. Sorry. I'm an architect in NYC w/ 10 years experience making just under 70.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:45 AM on May 26, 2007

Try mediabistro.com for more context, too.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:46 AM on May 26, 2007

Best answer: I've worked as an editor in various capacities for about 13 years and know lots of other editors, though admittedly not specifically in your field, and your salary expectations as an assitant editor seem pretty unrealistic.

One of my exes is an editor (meaning he's a full editor, not an assistant or an associate) at a leading medical journal in Chicago, and he's probably making in the mid-to-upper 40s (he's been at the journal for about 5 years). I'm a senior book editor in Los Angeles (I've been here 7 years), and I can tell you A) I will be happy the day I crack 60k, and B) our assistant editors start out at half of what you're hoping for. I have several colleagues who've worked as magazine editors (again, full editors, not assistant editors), and it took them years to crack 50k/60k.

Again, I don't know your field in particular and it will depend a little on your actual location, but I would be pretty surprised if there's any publisher that pays a starting salary for assistant editors a year out of college above the mid-30s.
posted by scody at 11:52 AM on May 26, 2007

cheap area, like midwest - may 25K or so, 30 tops

more expensive area - maybe 35-40 tops
posted by Salvatorparadise at 11:54 AM on May 26, 2007

Best answer: In the UK, you could expect about £20-30k Sterling, depending on a range of factors. The market in the USA would be quite different, though, I imagine.

The most important factors not mentioned in your description would be number of permanent staff, number of permanent staff senior to the assistant editor by rank, and the number of staff of equivalent rank to the assistant editor (if any). Can you help on any of those?
posted by WPW at 12:08 PM on May 26, 2007

On second thoughts, I'd like to revise my estimate downwards to £19-27k Sterling
posted by WPW at 12:10 PM on May 26, 2007

I think that you would be lucky to crack $40k, but that you should ask for $45k in your negotiation and see what they say.
posted by decathecting at 12:24 PM on May 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks.

All helpful, sobering advice so far.

To clarify my situation:

1.) The urban area is, in fact, NYC.
2.) I didn't go to an Ivy, but I did go to one of the "Public Ivies" as defined by these guys. (I know: not as if to say that that is actually comparable.)
3.) I would probably say yes to anything above 30k, assuming this job will afford me the same amount of time for freelance writing that my 40hr/week research scientist job did.
4.) The field is Chemical Engineering.
5.) Unfortunately, WPW, I don't know the details you're asking for. However, I can say that they occupy half of a top floor in a building on Park Ave. It looks like this. My guess is 20-40 in the office, plus others elsewhere.

I was going to ask 42k, given all this, but is 45k also a reasonable starting point for negotiating purposes?
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 12:50 PM on May 26, 2007

Is being an engineer a condition of employment? This might make the salary more like $40k. However, if it's not, you might be competing with people willing to take $30k a year or even less.
posted by acoutu at 12:56 PM on May 26, 2007

Response by poster: Not a condition, but expressly preferred in the job listing.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 1:01 PM on May 26, 2007

Are you going through the interview process and being asked to supply a specific number (in other words, they've offered you or are about to offer you the job), or are you preparing a cover letter in response to an ad that happens to request salary requirements/expectations?
posted by scody at 1:11 PM on May 26, 2007

Best answer: I'd expect more like 32k-38k (accounting for inflation since I worked in nyc area 3 years ago). That said mainly of my coworkers did freelancing in edition to the job. But also don't low-ball yourself. asking for 42k or even 45k might not be unreasonable.
posted by ejaned8 at 1:15 PM on May 26, 2007

Just to be clear, is it "Assistant Editor," or "Editorial Assistant?"
posted by rhizome at 1:20 PM on May 26, 2007

Best answer: Can you find out the salary range for this exact position by networking your way to someone in the organization via LinkedIn?

And as scody intimated, you want to put off all salary discussions until you're offered the position. The first person to mention a salary loses! If asked during an interview what salary you require, you can say you prefer not to negotiate salary until both you and the company are sure this is a good fit.
posted by Joleta at 1:20 PM on May 26, 2007

Response by poster: * They already have my resume, They've scheduled an interview for this coming week.

* The job is most def. "Assistant Editor" and not its lesser paying cousin the "Editorial Assistant"--a big difference that I will argue (Dwight Schrute)/(Gareth Keenan)-like for the rest of my (hypothetical) tenure.

* No one has mentioned salary, yet. Thanks for both those pieces of advice, though, Joleta! The 6-degrees of LinkedIn Separation is under way.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 2:01 PM on May 26, 2007

For what it's worth, equivalent editors for U.S. political opinion magazines make a bit under $30K, even if they have impressive Ivy degrees. Even more senior editors may not make much more than $30K.
posted by J-Train at 5:19 PM on May 26, 2007

Sorry I can't help you with exactly how, if at all, you should negotiate on starting salary (it's not something a graduate would normally do in the UK — you get what you're given), but I hope the below gives you an idea of what's normal for graduates in the field in the UK.

I was "Publishing Editor" at an academic journal run by a scientific society in the UK. This was one down from "Publisher". I ran the science of the peer review process (we had administrative staff to handle the correspondence and production staff for the typesetting, printing, etc.) and the long term development, so it was a highly skilled job, requiring a bachelor's degree (masters or better preferred) in the science.

Straight out of Oxford, with a first class degree and masters, and a demonstrable interest and experience in publishing, I started on around £18k, which is a pretty typical skilled graduate salary outside of London for professions other than medicine, dentistry, law, banking, etc. Entry level jobs in the media (even the technical media) are so oversubscribed that you shouldn't expect them to pay you more just because you exactly meet their job spec. So does everyone else who applies! You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake out in the real world!

In London (which has higher salaries than the rest of Britain, perhaps even higher than NYC) I would probably have started on more like £22k. £18k was about US$30k at the time (two or three years ago).

The society also had a monthly magazine sent to members. Junior editorial staff there earned slightly less than me, since they tended not to have the scientific background I have, and because everyone wants to work in editorial.

So, having said all that, I'd be staggered if you were able to start on $60k. However, I get the impression that salaries in scientific publishing rise more quickly than in the media generally. I was expecting to get a 20% raise at the end of my first full year and to be promoted to Publisher within two years (I left publishing for other reasons), which would have got me up to around £28k.
posted by caek at 5:55 PM on May 26, 2007

ivy league or community school - they pay ya what they pay ya i think
posted by Salvatorparadise at 12:35 AM on May 27, 2007

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