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Become A Writer

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Working As A Writer

  • $66,020

    Average Salary

What Does A Writer Do

Writers and authors develop written content for advertisements, books, magazines, movie and television scripts, songs, blogs, or other types of media.

Duties

Writers and authors typically do the following:

  • Choose subject matter that interests readers
  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
  • Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

Writers and authors develop written material—namely, stories and advertisements—for books, magazines, and online publications.

Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through strong research and the use of appropriate sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the best organization and the most appropriate phrasing.

An increasing number of writers are freelance writers—that is, they are self-employed and sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. Many freelance writers are hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization’s newsletter.

An increasing number of writers are producing material that is published directly online, in videos and on blogs.

The following are examples of types of writers and authors:

Copywriters prepare advertisements to promote the sale of a good or service. They often work with a client to produce written content, such as advertising themes, jingles, and slogans.

Biographers write a thorough account of a person’s life. They gather information from interviews and research about the person to accurately portray important events in that person's life.

Bloggers write posts to a web log (shortened to “blog”) that usually pertain to any topic or a specific field, such as fashion, news, or sports.

Generalists write about any topic of interest, unlike writers who usually specialize in a given field.

Novelists write books of fiction, creating characters and plots that may be imaginary or based on real events.

Songwriters compose music and lyrics for songs. They may write and perform their own songs or sell their work to a music publisher. They sometimes work with a client to produce advertising themes, jingles, and slogans, and they may be involved in marketing the product or service.

Playwrights write scripts for theatrical productions. They come up with a concept, write lines for actors to say, produce stage direction for actors to follow, and suggest ideas for theatrical set design.

Screenwriters create scripts for movies and television. They may produce original stories, characters, and dialogue, or turn a book into a movie or television script. Some may produce content for radio broadcasts and other types of performance.

Journalists write articles and reports on current events. For more information, see the profile on reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts.

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How To Become A Writer

A college degree in English, journalism, or communications is generally required for a salaried position as a writer or author. Experience can be gained through internships, but any form of writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial. Excellent writing skills are essential.

Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Other Work Experience

Writers can obtain job experience by working for high school and college newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. College theater and music programs offer playwrights and songwriters an opportunity to have their work performed. Many magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

Employers also increasingly prefer new applicants to have the ability to code and program webpages or manipulate data to create a visual story using tables, charts, and maps.

In addition, anyone with Internet access can start a blog and gain writing experience. Some of this writing may lead to paid assignments regardless of education, because the quality of writing, the unique perspective, and the size of the potential audience are the greatest determinants of success for a piece of writing. Online publications require knowledge of computer software and editing tools that are used to combine text with graphics, audio, video, and animation.

Writers or authors can come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences as long as they demonstrate strong writing skills.

Training

Writers and authors may need to gain some writing experience through on-the-job training with more experienced writers and editors before their work is ready for publication.

Writers who want to write about a particular topic may need formal training or experience related to that topic.

Because many writers today prepare material directly for the Internet, knowing graphic design, page layout, and multimedia software can be advantageous.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.

Certification can also increase opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Beginning writers and authors can get a start and put their name on work immediately by writing for smaller businesses, local newspapers, advertising agencies, and nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities for advancement within these organizations may be limited because they usually do not have enough regular work.

Writers and authors can advance their careers further by building a reputation, taking on more complex writing assignments, and getting published in more prestigious markets and publications. Having published work that has been well received and maintaining a track record of meeting deadlines are important for advancement.

Many editors begin work as writers. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying stories, correcting writing style, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

Important Qualities

Adaptability. Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to newer software platforms and programs, including various Content Management Systems (CMS).

Creativity. Writers and authors must be able to develop new and interesting plots, characters, or ideas so they can come up with new stories.

Critical-thinking skills. Writers and authors must have dual expertise in thinking through or understanding new concepts, and conveying it through writing.

Determination. Writers and authors sometimes work on projects that take years to complete. Freelance writers who are paid per assignment must demonstrate perseverance and personal drive to meet deadlines.

Persuasion. Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to persuade others to feel a certain way about a good or service.

Social perceptiveness. Writers and authors must understand how readers react to certain ideas in order to connect with their audience.

Writing skills. Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively in order to convey feeling and emotion and communicate with readers.

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Do you work as a Writer?

Writer Jobs

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Writer Career Paths

Writer
Copy Editor Managing Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Copy Editor/Page Designer Editor
Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Communications Specialist Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Author Technical Writer Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Communications Specialist Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Marketing Manager Marketing Manager/Project Manager
Digital Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Author Writer And Editor Social Media Manager
Digital Strategist
5 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Director Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing & Development
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Program Manager Marketing Director
Executive Director, Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Production Coordinator Traffic Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Managing Editor Communications Director
Marketing And Communication Consultant
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Product Manager Marketing Consultant
Marketing Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Video Editor Media Specialist Media Manager
Media Director
5 Yearsyrs
Production Coordinator Traffic Coordinator Media Coordinator
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Fellow Project Coordinator Outreach Coordinator
Outreach Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Public Affairs Specialist Public Relations Specialist
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Writer And Editor Social Media Manager
Strategist
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Writer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Free Lance Writer 4.0 years
Senior Writer 3.7 years
Writer And Editor 3.1 years
Lead Writer 2.9 years
Editor/Copy Writer 2.8 years
Feature Writer 2.6 years
Designer/Writer 2.6 years
Research Writer 2.1 years
Staff Writer 2.0 years
Writer 2.0 years
Copy Writer 2.0 years
Ghost Writer 1.9 years
Web Writer 1.7 years
News Writer 1.7 years
Writer/Blogger 1.6 years
Content Writer 1.4 years
Blog Writer 1.1 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 19.7%
Editor 10.0%
Teacher 5.4%
Volunteer 5.3%
Reporter 5.1%
Cashier 3.7%
Assistant 3.0%
Manager 2.7%
Instructor 2.7%
Server 2.7%
Tutor 2.6%
Top Employers After
Internship 13.5%
Editor 11.2%
Volunteer 5.0%
Reporter 4.7%
Teacher 4.5%
Consultant 3.8%
Server 3.5%
Instructor 2.7%
Manager 2.7%
Author 2.7%

Do you work as a Writer?

Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

54.5%

Male

43.7%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

62.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.7%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

45.8%

French

18.2%

German

5.5%

Italian

4.4%

Japanese

3.6%

Chinese

3.2%

Mandarin

3.2%

Arabic

2.5%

Portuguese

2.4%

Russian

2.3%

Korean

1.9%

Hebrew

1.6%

Hindi

1.2%

Greek

1.0%

Cantonese

0.8%

Turkish

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%

Urdu

0.5%

Polish

0.5%

Indonesian

0.4%
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Writer Education

Schools

New York University

8.6%

Temple University

6.6%

Michigan State University

6.2%

Syracuse University

6.0%

University of Southern California

5.9%

University of Phoenix

5.8%

University of Texas at Austin

5.2%

Northwestern University

4.9%

University of Oregon

4.6%

University of Florida

4.6%

Columbia University

4.5%

American University

4.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.4%

Ohio University -

4.3%

Florida State University

4.3%

San Francisco State University

4.0%

University of Georgia

4.0%

University of Arizona

3.9%

Boston University

3.8%

University of Iowa

3.7%
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Majors

English

16.7%

Journalism

15.7%

Communication

13.6%

Writing

9.1%

Business

6.6%

Photography

4.8%

Public Relations

3.8%

Political Science

3.6%

Psychology

3.6%

History

2.7%

Fine Arts

2.4%

Marketing

2.4%

Education

2.4%

Law

2.2%

Liberal Arts

2.0%

Theatre

1.8%

Agricultural Public Services

1.8%

Elementary Education

1.7%

Computer Science

1.5%

Management

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.9%

Masters

19.9%

Other

15.7%

Doctorate

3.6%

Associate

3.4%

Certificate

2.9%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Writer Eye Productions Inc., A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of CBS Corporation CA May 23, 2016 $203,013
Report Writer Vector Engineering, Inc. Greenwood Village, CO Feb 17, 2014 $197,460 -
$223,788
Product Requirement Writer Platte River Associates Inc. Boulder, CO Sep 07, 2014 $150,000
Cognos Report Writer Concur Technologies, Inc. Bellevue, WA Jul 03, 2016 $110,000
Writer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Sep 28, 2015 $110,000 -
$130,000
SAP Bw-Badi Writer Iconsoft Inc. Redmond, WA Feb 22, 2016 $108,000
Submission Writer Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation East Hanover, NJ Aug 08, 2016 $107,200
Writer Adasia Communications, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ Sep 28, 2016 $105,000
Writer 2 Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Jul 24, 2013 $105,000
Writer Quail Television LLC Santa Monica, CA Jan 02, 2016 $104,000
Major Gifts Writer Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Apr 25, 2016 $98,696 -
$118,696
Writer, Fortune.Com Time Inc. New York, NY Nov 20, 2015 $95,000 -
$110,000
Regulatory Writer Med Institute, Inc. West Lafayette, IN Jun 01, 2015 $78,507
Database Report Writer Fresno Community Hosital & Medical Center Fresno, CA Feb 20, 2015 $75,546
Biomedical Writer Grey Healthcare Group New York, NY Feb 03, 2014 $75,000
Writer Piro, Inc. New York, NY Jan 08, 2016 $75,000
Report Writer Vedicsoft Solutions LLC Rochester, MN Jun 13, 2016 $74,235
RFP Writer Neuberger Berman Group LLC New York, NY Sep 20, 2014 $74,000
Cube/Report Writer Regis University Denver, CO Jul 27, 2015 $58,843 -
$75,379
Legal Writer Ardent Law Group, A Professional Corporation Irvine, CA Sep 20, 2014 $58,186
SQL Report Writer University of Wisconsin Foundation Madison, WI Sep 24, 2015 $56,000 -
$70,000
Database Report Writer Franke Management, Inc. Smyrna, TN Sep 16, 2015 $55,744
Database Report Writer Listen Technologies Bluffdale, UT Jun 10, 2013 $55,120
Writer/Developer Xamarin, Inc. Boston, MA Sep 04, 2014 $55,000
Writer Law Offices of Michael I. Brooks, APC Los Angeles, CA Aug 11, 2015 $54,575
Writer Red Board Productions Santa Monica, CA Apr 21, 2015 $54,500

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Top Skills for A Writer

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  1. Web
  2. Online Publication
  3. Feature
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Edited website profiles to make the websites look exceptionally convincing Corrected grammatical errors to perfection
  • Contributed to start-up non-profit online publication centering around Boston's urban community.
  • Compose and edit feature articles for industry magazines and additional publications.
  • Produce bi-weekly engaging, cutting-edge, forward thinking, high-quality stories covering various news and opinion topics from around the world.
  • Gathered information on news stories from around the world to be broadcast on daily newscast produced in Atlanta international bureau.

What is it like to work as a Writer

5.0

Great writer you will love my writing!

April 10, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Writer.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Writer?

Set your own schedule work from home. Determine your own salary. Dictate your hours. Choose the jobs you want... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Could be paid more. Slow to get started very competitive... Show More

How Would You Rate Working As a Writer?

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Top 10 Best States for Writers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Washington
  3. Connecticut
  4. Virginia
  5. Alaska
  6. Maryland
  7. Vermont
  8. Massachusetts
  9. New Jersey
  10. North Carolina
  • (160 jobs)
  • (203 jobs)
  • (72 jobs)
  • (440 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (273 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (270 jobs)
  • (148 jobs)
  • (205 jobs)

Top Writer Employers

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Jobs From Top Writer Employers

Writer Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Copywriter & Vice Chairman by Rory S (Highlights)

How to Tell if You're a Writer

Writer Career Information : How to Become a Writer

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