Jobs with a Professional Writing Degree

Find out the type of jobs you could pursue with a professional writing degree. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Career Options for Writing Degree Graduates?

There are many jobs you can get with a professional writing degree, including copywriting, editing, and technical writing. A professional writer is someone who has received a degree in a field related to writing, usually an English Literature or Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree. Professional writers can work in many capacities, whether they are employed by companies or work for themselves as freelancers. Copywriters tend to work in advertising, creating content for ads and marketing campaigns. Editors work with the writing of others to make it better, often working either full time for publishing companies or taking in work on a freelance basis. Technical writers are often employed by businesses to create documents containing technical information about their products.

The table below outlines the general requirements for these career options.

Copywriters Editors Technical Writers
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Developing marketing plans, writing advertising communications, creating and revising client projects Creating original work, editing others' work, planning publication content Collaborating with other professionals, creating technical information, translating technical information into plain terms
Job Growth (2014-24) 2% to 4%* -5% for all editors** 10%**
Median Salary (2015) $60,250* $56,010** $70,240**

Source: *O'NET OnLine, **U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Professional Writing Degrees Are Available?

You'll need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in order to apply for most copywriting, editing or technical editing positions. You can find degrees in professional writing at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As a professional writing major, you might take courses in grammar, writing for multimedia platforms or business communication. A professional writing or publishing internship may be required. Bachelor's degree programs include general education requirements.

Master's-level programs can often be completed in two years. There are no general education requirements; you might take courses in organizational management and document design. You may be expected to specialize in a specific style of writing, like fiction, poetry or scientific writing.

What is the Career and Salary Outlook for Copywriters?

A copywriter may be responsible for developing marketing plans, writing advertising communications and editing or rewriting projects per a client's specifications, according to O*Net Online (http://online.onetcenter.org). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that copywriters may be responsible for not only copy in print advertisements, but also for broadcast advertisement scripts used in radio or television programs (www.bls.gov).

According to online salary website Payscale.com, the mid-range salary for copywriters in 2017 was between $32,376-$70,179. The site notes that experience can have some effect on a copywriter's pay. For example, copywriters with less than five years of experience earned between $43,000 and $55,000 in 2017; copywriters with 5-10 years of experience earned between $55,000-$61,000 during the same year. ONET OnLine notes that the median salary for a copywriter in 2015 was $60,250. They also note that the copywriting industry is expected to grow by 2% to 4% between 2014-2024.

What Career Options Exist for Editors?

An editor often begins his or her career as a writer, according to the BLS. Typical workplaces for editors include newspaper or magazine publishers, educational organizations, private businesses and professional associations. Rank can determine an editor's duties - for example, the BLS notes that an executive editor has supervisory duties and can make content-related decisions, whereas an assistant editor may be responsible for covering specific subjects.

The BLS notes that there were 96,690 editors working in the United States in May 2015; roughly 50,550 of these editors were employed by newspaper, periodical, book or directory publishers. In May 2015, the BLS also noted the median salary for all editors was $56,010. The projected job outlook for 2014-2024 for editors is -5%. Payscale.com reports that an editor earned between $32,835-$81,515 in 2017.

How Much Can I Earn as a Technical Writer?

Technical writers may work with scientists, computer specialists or engineers to communicate industry-specific information in a way that the general public can understand. The BLS notes that technical writers often work in industries related to information technology, computers and technical consulting.

According to the BLS, there were 49,770 individuals working as technical writers in the United States in 2015, and the number of employed technical writers is expected to grow by 10% from 2014-2024. The BLS also reports a median salary for technical writers of $70,240 in May 2015. Online salary database Salary.com notes that in February 2017, entry-level technical writers earned between $39,317-$45,694 a year. Technical writers in somewhat more experienced positions earned between around $52,699 during the same time period.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like writing, you could consider a career as a published author or as an English teacher. A published author does not need a specific degree in order to be published, but they do have to display a high level of skill in their writing in order to be picked up by a publisher, and a degree in writing helps develop this ability. They must be able to spend concentrated amounts of time writing. An English teacher must have a bachelor's degree and licensure to teach in grade school. This job entails exposing students to certain kinds of literature, instructing them how to write, and then critiquing student writing.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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