Magazine Writer Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Read on for information about magazine writing specialties and common job duties. The article below also contains information on education requirements and professional development opportunities for magazine writers, as well as potential earnings. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Magazine Writer?

Magazine writers produce entertaining, informative and original content for magazines of all kinds. Some may work as freelancers, contributing to many different publications at once, and some may be staff writers. Magazine writers need to have strong written communication skills as well as good research abilities and be able to meet deadlines. They may seek out individuals to interview, consult experts on topics, travel to research stories or spend several months working on just one piece. The different types of content that magazine writers may be called upon to produce is as diverse and far-reaching as there are different kinds of magazines.

What Duties Will I Have As A Magazine Writer?

As a magazine writer, you'll develop and research story ideas and turn them into entertaining, accurate and well-written news or feature articles. Depending on your employer or level of seniority, you may be responsible for coming up with your own story ideas or covering topics assigned to you by your editor. Article research methods may include finding and checking facts, interviewing people, covering events or investigative reporting. You'll likely work under some types of deadlines, and your work may be subject to editorial revisions.

Magazines may be devoted to a specific or general interest; for example, sports would be a general interest and bicycling would be a specific one. Some magazines target a specific demographic group, like parents or young women. Other publications cover general news, so their article topics may be more varied. In many cases, you'll specialize in writing about a specific topic within your magazine's scope of interest. If you work for a smaller magazine, you may cover any and every topic that interests its readership. Many magazine journalists write articles for numerous publications on a freelance basis; freelance work also enables you to write about a variety of topics, though you can also specialize in just one.

What Should I Study In School?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most magazines look to hire writers with bachelor's degrees; English, communications or journalism are generally the preferred areas of study (www.bls.gov). Many communications and journalism degree programs offer optional concentrations in print journalism. A few schools even allow you to declare a focus in magazine writing or specific topical areas, such as sports, fiction or science writing.

In a general journalism bachelor's degree program, you'll learn about writing and editing for other types of media besides magazines, such as radio and TV broadcasts, newspapers and online publications. Because magazines increasingly publish some or all of their content online, even programs with magazine writing focuses may require a Web writing or publishing course. Courses related to magazine journalism may cover topics like writing and editing, magazine design and layout, news reporting, feature stories and writing for trade publications.

How Can I Get A Good Job?

According to the BLS, journalism is a competitive industry, and experience can be advantageous (www.bls.gov). The American Society for Magazine Editors (ASME) recommends working on your campus newspaper during your college years, completing a magazine writing internship or doing both (www.magazine.org). The ASME's online job bank lists numerous internship opportunities available through its member publications. In conjunction with the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), the ASME also publishes informational leaflets advising entry-level writers on how to get ahead in the industry.

How Much Could I Earn?

As of May 2015, the BLS reported that reporters and correspondents working in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV earned a median annual salary of $36,360. According to the salary information website Payscale.com, the 25th-75th percentile salary range for journalists was $24,859 - $71,728 per year as of January 2017.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Graduates of an English literature or writing-based degree will be able to find work in a number of different fields. Those who enjoy writing may want to pursue a full-time career as a professional author, although competition is fierce and many authors support themselves by writing for magazines or other publications. Editing is another viable option, with job duties that include putting together, proofreading and correcting content that has been submitted for publication. As mentioned earlier, the rising number of online publications means that there are a growing number of opportunities for editors, which can increasingly be fulfilled remotely.

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