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Become A Writer

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Working As A Writer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $46,376

    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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Writer jobs

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Writer Career Paths

Writer
Project Manager Program Manager Marketing Manager
Associate Director, Marketing
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Product Manager
Brand Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Associate Editor Proofreader Managing Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Social Media Manager Marketing Consultant Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Coordinator Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Managing Editor Communications Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Marketing Assistant Account Executive Public Relations
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
7 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Director Marketing Director
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Communications Specialist Marketing Specialist
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Writer And Editor Communications Manager
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Manager
Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Account Manager Marketing Consultant
Marketing Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Social Media Manager Marketing Director Business Developer
Marketing/Business Development
8 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Writer And Editor Social Media Manager
Marketing/Social Media Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Marketing Manager Search Engine Optimizer
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Managing Editor Project Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Project Manager Construction Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Producer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Senior Writer Managing Editor
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Producer Marketing Manager Social Media Manager
Strategist
7 Yearsyrs
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Writer Demographics

Gender

  • Female

    54.5%
  • Male

    43.7%
  • Unknown

    1.8%

Ethnicity

  • White

    80.0%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    9.7%
  • Asian

    7.7%
  • Unknown

    2.0%
  • Black or African American

    0.6%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    45.5%
  • French

    18.3%
  • German

    5.5%
  • Italian

    4.4%
  • Japanese

    3.6%
  • Mandarin

    3.2%
  • Chinese

    3.2%
  • Portuguese

    2.5%
  • Arabic

    2.5%
  • Russian

    2.2%
  • Korean

    1.8%
  • Hebrew

    1.7%
  • Hindi

    1.2%
  • Greek

    1.0%
  • Cantonese

    0.9%
  • Dutch

    0.6%
  • Turkish

    0.5%
  • Polish

    0.5%
  • Indonesian

    0.4%
  • Urdu

    0.4%
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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
Writer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Sep 28, 2015 $110,000 -
$130,000
Cognos Report Writer Concur Technologies, Inc. Bellevue, WA Jul 03, 2016 $110,000
Submission Writer Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation East Hanover, NJ Aug 08, 2016 $107,200
Writer 2 Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Jul 24, 2013 $105,000
Writer Adasia Communications, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ Sep 28, 2016 $105,000
Writer Quail Television LLC Santa Monica, CA Jan 02, 2016 $104,000
Writer, Fortune.Com Time Inc. New York, NY Nov 20, 2015 $95,000 -
$110,000
Epic Cert. Report Writer Inova Health System Springfield, VA Sep 12, 2016 $94,869
Writer, Fortune.Com Time Inc. New York, NY Nov 20, 2015 $93,915 -
$135,655
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
Database Report Writer Fresno Community Hospital & Medical Center Fresno, CA Oct 06, 2014 $72,634
Report Writer Vedicsoft Solutions LLC Aurora, IL Jul 18, 2016 $70,221
Writer, Brand Strategy Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 03, 2014 $70,000 -
$80,000
Writer Market Realist Inc. New York, NY Jun 01, 2014 $70,000 -
$110,000
Database Report Writer Community Medical Centers Fresno, CA Apr 25, 2013 $67,828 -
$91,786
Writer Terramagma Pictures LLC Los Angeles, CA May 12, 2016 $67,118
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
Writer Jules Films, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 27, 2015 $54,393

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Top Skills for A Writer

WebContentOnlinePublicationFeatureTopicsStudentNewspaperVideoGamesPressReleasesSEOTwitterBookReviewsNewsStoriesInternetWeeklyArticlesLanguageBlogPostsNewsArticlesPoetrySafetyCustomerServiceContributor

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Top Writer Skills

  1. Web Content
  2. Online Publication
  3. Feature
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Interviewed investment professionals to produce timely newsletter articles and web content.
  • Develop subject ideas for online publication.
  • Developed and wrote independent feature film projects
  • Generate original sports stories and draft pivotal storyboard topics focusing on player foundations.
  • Reviewed movies, plays and gallery openings for student newspaper.

Top Writer Employers

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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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