Approximately 241,500 writers and editors are employed in the United States. Food writers and editors work for a variety of employers. Magazines, newspapers, online publications, television and radio stations, book publishers, food/beverage manufacturing companies, and food/beverage trade associations all hire food writers and editors. Many food writers and editors work on a freelance basis, as well. Many employers are found in large cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but virtually any geographical area served by a large newspaper will offer opportunities for a food writer or editor.
Most food writers and editors start out in entry-level positions such as editorial assistant or proofreader. These jobs may be listed with college career services offices, or they may be obtained by applying directly to the employment departments of the individual newspapers, magazines, Web sites, book publishers, or broadcasting companies. Graduates who previously had internships with these companies often have the advantage of knowing someone who can give them a personal recommendation or inform them of potential job openings before they are made public, thus giving them an edge over the competition. Want ads on employment Web sites, in newspapers and trade journals, or on Web sites of professional associations are another source for jobs.
Some food writers and editors may start out writing and editing in a different subject area, and later choose to work with food when they have more seniority and priority in choosing work assignments. Other food writers and editors gain experience by freelancing, one article or review at a time. Some get their start by blogging and writing articles for their own Web site. Even unpaid assignments can benefit the aspiring food writer or editor. They allow you to build up your portfolio of food-related writing and editing samples and provide you with contact with the people who may be in a position to hire you at a later time.
Aspiring writers often break into the industry by working as editorial assistants or proofreaders. Once they are promoted to the position of staff writer, they might advance to work as an editor, and with considerable experience, to the positions of managing editor and editorial director. Aspiring editors also often break in as editorial assistants or proofreaders, and may advance to top-level editorial positions such as managing editor and editorial director.
Food writers and editors are usually rewarded with higher profile assignments and increase in salary as they gain experience. For example, food writers may advance by moving from writing short filler copy or covering local events, to writing main features or traveling to cover high-profile industry events. In many cases, food writers and editors advance by moving from a position on one publication to the same position with a larger or more prestigious publication. Such moves may bring significant increases in both pay and status.
Sometimes freelance food writers and editors accept full-time positions with a newspaper or magazine. Such positions are usually offered on the merit of their previous freelance work for a publication. Other freelance food writers and editors may prefer to remain freelancers, but are able to command a higher paycheck because of their reputation and experience.
Write as often as you can and create a portfolio of your work to show potential employers.
Apply for an entry-level job as an editorial assistant or proofreader in order to gain experience in the field.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend conferences of the ACES: The Society for Editing, the Association of Food Journalists, and other organizations to network, improve your skills, and interview for jobs.
Join the National Writers Union to increase your chances of landing a job and receiving fair pay for your work.