12 Jobs That Pay You to Read

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Hannah Berman175
May 19, 2024 at 1:50AM UTC

Bibliophiles have a very specific set of skills — i.e., tearing through books like they're candy — that might, at first glance, seem impossible to translate to the job market.  After all, no high-level banker has the time to peruse the latest literature; no interviewer at the law firm cares how intensely you are drawn to specific characters you've encountered in books or how easy it is for you to lose yourself in a great narrative. Luckily, however, the job search might not be so bleak for us self-proclaimed readers as it might seem. There exist several jobs that are fine-tuned to our skills and actually allow you to read on the job.

If you identify as a book lover, check out this list of careers. After all, who doesn't want to spend their life doing something they love? 

12 jobs that pay you to read.

1. Editor.

Average salary: $51,549 (PayScale) 

Editors are in charge of revisions. They excel with grammar and punctuation rules and have a firm grasp on how to most efficiently transmit an idea to the public. Their job involves reading different texts for clarity and making changes in order to let the writer’s voice shine through with more resonance. To become an editor, you probably need to have a bachelor’s degree in English or a related field such as journalism and work your way up from an entry-level job in the field of publishing. If you go this route, you’ll end up reading every single day — book editors are known to interact with over 100 manuscripts per year.

2. Literary agent.

Average salary: $56,000 (CareerTrend)

A literary agent acts as a representative for a manuscript when pitching it to publishers. Their responsibilities include reading hundreds of query letters and unedited books and deciding which authors are worth representing. They work very closely with their authors to help ensure that their project comes to fruition; for that reason, they must have good interpersonal skills and a strong passion for trudging through work by as-yet undiscovered authors.

3. Freelance / contributing writer.

Average salary: N/A

A freelance writer certainly does more writing than reading, but the skills are certainly aligned. There’s no average salary listed because it’s impossible to ascertain how much work an “average” freelance writer makes — each writer’s salary varies from month to month depending on their work. Above all else, you must have a strong desire to write. As a freelance writer, you not only have free time to read but also an incentive; you must keep up on literary trends in order to keep producing work that fits into market trends.

4. Librarian.

Average salary: $49,760 (PayScale)

Librarians aren’t just old women in mothball-ridden blouses and tiny, tiny glasses. The job of a librarian is more difficult than just shushing rowdy children; typically, to become a librarian you need a master’s degree in library science. The job requires being resourceful and informed, both by helping people looking for library books (hello, Dewey Decimal System!) and by researching larger projects. Aside from those interruptions, though, you're free to spend the days catching up on the books in the collection. 

5. Magazine editor.

Average salary: $50,522 (PayScale)

A magazine editor’s duties are a tad different from the work done by a general editor. Magazine editors have similar responsibilities as other editors — they must revise work in order to help it reach its full potential — but unlike others, they must do all this in a time crunch. They don't just edit text but also interact with images and layout in order to create the perfect, glossy magazine. Because of this, they come into contact with a lot of text, but the reading they do is very different from general editorial work, so if you appreciate short-form writing, this might be the job for you.

6. Bookstore manager.

Average salary: $39,420 (PayScale) 

Bookstore employees are free to roam the aisles, helping people find books and reading books themselves; unlike librarians, they do not need to perform any research. A lot of their work is less intellectual and more physical, involving carrying books from one display to another. It’s an easy job to get — usually bookstore employees do not need much prior training — and it gives you ample opportunity to read behind the scenes. 

7. Copywriter.

Average salary: $50,570 (PayScale)

Though it may not sound glamorous, writing copy for a publication is a really good, stable job. While writing copy, you won’t have any of the job instability that comes with working freelance (unless, of course, you're a freelance copywriter). Instead, you’re hired to write the text that someone someday will edit; that text could end up in advertisements, on a website, in a book — anywhere. You may not get your own byline, but you’ll be compensated for your work, and you’ll have the incentive to read in order to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing market.  

8. Book reviewer.

Average salary: $62,170 (Study.com) 

A difficult job to snag but a dream to have. This job actually allows you to engage critically with the material you read, unlike a surprising amount of the jobs available in publishing. As a book critic, you will read and read and read and write responses to the books you’ve read. The average salary is also nothing to sneer at in comparison to some of the other careers on this list. 

9. Illustrator.

Average salary: $21,680–$90,486 (PayScale) 

The job of an illustrator involves a surprising amount of reading. If you get into the business of designing book covers or illustrating books, you’ll end up reading a lot in order to get acquainted with the work you’re planning to accompany with illustrations. Of course, this job requires a significant amount of artistic experience and if you go into children's books, a certain level of whimsy.

10. Proofreader.

Average salary: $26,216–$63,303 (PayScale) 

Proofreading is a bit more in-the-reeds than editing. While an editor is reading for content and providing revisions that deal with the meat of the text, a proofreader is more objective, looking very simply for grammatical errors. They act as the last defense of a piece of work before it goes to print. This job requires a passion for grammatical rules and close attention to detail. 

11. Translator.

Average salary: $23,264–$76,366 (PayScale) 

A translator works to convert a text from one language to another. During this intense and arduous process, you’ll become extremely familiar with the text you’re studying — which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how much you like it. You’ll still have many opportunities to interact with all kinds of work in multiple languages, which will be interesting. The only caveat is that you must be essentially fluent in both languages with which you work if you want to make a significant living in this profession. 

12. Archivist.

Average salary: $46,600 (Recruiter) 

The work of an archivist is the process of deciding which materials deserve to be preserved for time immemorial and which materials aren’t worth the effort. Essentially, archivists write our collective history as we live it. As an archivist, you’ll be tasked with reading numerous texts (including mostly primary sources like letters and other personal documents) and judging their relative value to society, before either storing them in the archives or moving on. It’s a fascinating job, especially for people who like history.

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