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Writing Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a writing major. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information.

What Is a Writing Major?

A writing major is a four-year degree that trains students to become either a writer/author or a technical writer. A writer/author mainly creates written content for various media such as books, magazines, film and television scripts, songs, or blogs. A technical writer creates instruction manuals, how-to guides, or other documents sharing technical information in a more comprehensible manner. In some cases, a writing major may be involved in the planning, review, and revision of written content for publication.

The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Technical Writer Writer/Author
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study English, technical writing, journalism, editing, online technology Writing, English, journalism, editing, word processing, online technology
Key Responsibilities Gather, fact-check and write technical information for specific readers Research and interview subjects; create and write original content, fact-check and edit content; distribute writing to clients or applicable markets
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% growth* 0% growth (3% decline for editors)*
Mean Annual Salary (2018) $75,500* $73,090 ($69,480 for editors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Bachelor's Degrees in Writing Are Available?

Writing programs generally result in a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional, creative or technical writing. You could also pursue a bachelor's degree in English with an emphasis in creative or technical writing. A few programs offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing. The type of program you choose should depend on your interests and career goals.

A professional writing degree program will prepare you for a career in areas of business or government where your main responsibilities involve writing and editing documents, articles and other texts. In a creative writing program, you might focus on fiction or nonfiction and develop a further specialty in a particular genre, such as screenwriting, children's literature, poetry or short stories.

If you choose a technical writing program, you will learn how to prepare technical content - such as how-to manuals and product documentation - to prepare for a career in the information technology, business and manufacturing industries. Some technical writing programs also offer specialty tracks, such as medical or scientific communications. Other writing majors may choose a degree in journalism. Journalism programs focus on article writing for print or online news publications, as well as how to research, interview, fact check and edit information for articles.

What Jobs Could I Qualify for?

Once you have your degree, you may pursue entry-level employment in a variety of industries. You might start out with less responsibility in the role of intern, editorial assistant or proofreader, for instance, before writing your own material. If your degree focused on professional writing, you could move into positions such as advertising copywriter, publisher, promotion specialist, marketing manager, book reviewer or publicity manager. These jobs can be found in advertising and marketing agencies, newspapers and magazines, publishing companies, government, consumer organizations and financial institutions. You might also be qualified to serve as a public information officer at an institution such as a college or university.

With a technical writing degree, you could work as a content writer, publisher, usability specialist or grant writer. Technical writers with training in a second field may pursue a career in that field. For instance, science writers may work in scientific companies or laboratories, and medical writers are often employed in health care facilities.

Creative writers often work with agents to get their own work published. You might also become a freelance writer and sell your work directly to book publishers, magazines, newspapers or television producers. Freelance writers are also commissioned to work on projects for various news and production agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 2 out of 3 writers and authors were self-employed in 2018 (www.bls.gov).

What Is the Job Outlook like?

According to the BLS, employment of writers and authors is expected to show little or no change for all occupations during the period 2018 to 2028. Employment of editors, on the other hand, is projected to decline during the same period (www.bls.gov). The use of new multimedia and online technologies within companies will create demand for writers and editors. Competition for writing jobs will likely be high, especially as self-publishing becomes easier and more affordable.

Writers who are familiar using a variety of online and new media tools may have the best prospects for new jobs. Employment of technical writers is expected to grow faster than the average over this same period, also per the BLS. Technical writing jobs will grow in tandem with the science, technology and electronics industries. New mobile applications and software systems will create the need for more web-based product support documentation. Individuals with knowledge in another field should enjoy the best job prospects in that field.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

Employment of technical writers is expected to grow faster than the average over this same period, also per the BLS. Technical writing jobs will grow in tandem with the science, technology and electronics industries. New mobile applications and software systems will create the need for more web-based product support documentation. Individuals with knowledge in another field should enjoy the best job prospects in that field.

Your salary will vary according to the type of writing you do and industry in which you work. For instance, writers working in the new media and online industries may have higher earning potential than those in traditional print media. In addition, larger publications tend to pay more than smaller publications. Freelance writers generally earn income from published articles, books and screenplays; however, many supplement their income with another job until finding consistent work. The BLS reports that the mean annual wages of writers and authors were $73,090 and the mean annual wages of technical writers were $75,500 in May 2018.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As a writing major, you can also be a reporter, a correspondent, or a broadcast news analyst who informs the public about the news and events happening on a local, national, or global scale. Like writers/authors, they may have access to newspapers, magazines, radio, television, or the Internet. If you are into enhancing the public image of certain companies or clients, you can get into public relations or be a fundraising manager. Both options require a bachelor's degree and good written and oral communication skills.