Speech Writer: Career and Salary Facts

Learn about the reading and research duties of a speech writer. Find information about what to study in school, where the jobs are and how much you might earn in the field. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Speech Writer?

As their job title implies, speech writers are responsible for writing speeches on specific topics for business executives or politicians, who then recite the speeches to a live audience. Job duties typically don't begin and end solely with the writing of speeches, however. Since the writing process often requires conducting original research or creating a speech from information provided by the eventual speaker, speech writers need strong research and reading comprehension skills. Often speech writers will meet with management to receive feedback on their speeches prior to their delivery. They then make any necessary changes or adjustments. The table below provides some additional information about this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Business communications, writing & editing, English
Key Responsibilities Tailor speeches to the speaker, work with speaker to understand purpose of the speech, create grammatically correct and concise sentences
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 0% growth (for all writers and authors)
Median Salary (2019)** $81,635 (for speech writers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Will I Do as a Speech Writer?

If you aspire to be a speech writer, you should be proficient at tailoring the wording and tone of your speeches to the speaker, topic and situation in which they will be read. Speeches should use words and phrases that will translate well to verbal recitation and sound realistic coming from the person who is reciting them. It often pays to be familiar with the speaking style of the person for whom you're writing. Also, sentences must be on the short side in order to best drive their point and meaning home to the reader. According to a report published by the Federation of American Scientists, a political policy analysis organization, techniques commonly used in optimal speeches include sentence repetition, imagery, fragments and rhetorical questions (www.fas.org).

Where Might I Work?

Many speech writers work in politics, often for congressmen or senators. Some speech writers are employed by public relations firms; such positions generally require writing promotional or crisis management speeches for various clients. Speech writing work usually takes place in an office environment, though you may also work as a freelance speech writer, crafting speeches for clients of varying types on a remote basis.

What Should I Study in School?

Speech writers generally need at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level employment. According to career and education information website CollegeBoard.com, business communications is a common major for speech writers. You can also major in related areas like English or mass communications. Aspiring political speech writers may want to major in political science, while aspiring public relations speech writers might study public relations. Relevant courses commonly required in degree programs in these areas may include public speaking, political communications, research methods, persuasive writing, organizational communication and public relations management.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to salary information website Payscale.com, speech writers earned a 10th-90th percentile salary range of $58,000-$138,000 as of October 2019. Payscale.com also reported that as of October 2019, some speech writers had the opportunity to earn up to $25,000 in bonuses.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Technical writers, public relations specialists and editors are all related positions that require at least a bachelor's degree. Technical writers develop complex content for things like instruction manuals. They may specialize in a particular industry. Public relations specialists communicate with the media and the public working to create a positive image and reputation for their particular organization. Editors often give the final approval for different kinds of written work before publication. They check the piece for errors and readability.

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