Are you a talented wordsmith? Writing careers offer many different job titles, roles and can also offer a lot of flexibility through full-time work or part-time gigs. We’ve researched various writing jobs, their pay and what both the current and future job market look like. Read on for our best tips to learn how you can find a writing job that matches your skills.
Main Takeaways: Getting a Writing Job
- Writing is a diverse field. From creative to technical, there is a type of writing that fits almost all interests.
- You don't necessarily need a degree. You can get a writing job from studying English in college, or you can put together a portfolio of work.
- There are many skills that make someone successful in writing. We explore this and more, including job listings, below.
What Does a Writing Job Entail?
Most companies need professional writers to produce written content for marketing materials, letters or websites to represent a company’s brand and reputation. They also need content that effectively communicates with clients and customers and gives them confidence in a company’s products and services.
As a writer, you can fill a number of roles within an organization, from drafting correspondence and technical documents to writing website and social media content. You can work independently or as part of a larger marketing or communications team, depending on the size of the company. You can also work as a freelancer for maximum flexibility.
Do I Need an English Degree to Work in this Field?
You don’t need a college degree to work as a writer, but your job prospects will be much more plentiful if you do. A bachelor’s degree in English, communication or a related major will boost your marketability. A master’s degree isn’t required, but it doesn’t hurt to have one if you’re pursuing a more senior-level role within a company. In some cases, an employer will accept work experience in lieu of education.
No matter what, it’s highly recommended that you build a portfolio/website you can show potential employers good examples of your writing. You can use services such as writerfolio.com to build a portfolio for as little as $4 a month.
There are various certifications you can earn depending on the field you are interested in, such as certifications in technical or resume writing. You can also sign up for specialized communication courses to highlight your expertise.
Interested in a writing and graphics job combination? Certifications in programs such as Adobe Professional, InDesign and Photoshop will elevate your skillset.
Types of Writing Jobs and Titles
Let’s take a look at some sample writing fields and titles that fall under the larger writing job umbrella.
An entry-level writing job, as an entry-level writer or copywriter, can be ideal for someone who is a college student, intern or new graduate. You could assist college students with papers, write resumes or write social media posts. Some companies hire entry-level writers to round out their writing team and assist with larger projects.
Freelance Writing Jobs
A freelance writer, also called a contract or remote writer, is a writer who works independently. Freelance writers can work 40+ hours a week or part-time, depending on your schedule. You might own your own writing company or work for various business clients. Some companies hire freelance writers to replace writers who are out on leave or to assist with certain projects. In these cases, freelance writers are called contract writers and are hired through employment staffing agencies.
Contract writers work directly for staffing agencies and usually file taxes using the 1099 independent contractor form. You can usually write off business expenses such as paper, technical equipment and software programs when you’re a freelancer.
Technical Writing Jobs
Technical writers or editors have specific experience writing in fields such as engineering, science or defense. You must have knowledge pertinent to these fields and the documents specific to their industries. Examples of projects technical writers might work on include white papers, manuals, project plans, plan specifications and product instructions.
Copywriters, also called advertising copywriters or web copywriters, write advertising and marketing content (copy) for online and print publications. You might work independently or for a company or organization, as a staff writer or as part of a larger copywriting team. You might write brochures, magazines, websites, emails and newsletters.
An editor, web editor or content editor reviews online or printed written materials and corrects spelling, grammar or other content issues. An editor is tasked with making communication as concise and clear as possible. You might begin your career as a writer and later branch out to editing. You could use Microsoft Word, Google Docs to make notations on documents and indicate changes that need to be made.
Creative Writing Jobs
Creative writers (also called creative copywriters or creative content writers) might write creative content for online and printed publications. You might work at a newspaper, corporation, ad agency, greeting card company or a similar kind of business. Some creative writers write fiction and non-fiction books.
Creative writers craft a variety of materials from news articles and blogs to sales brochures and posters.
Content Writing Jobs
Content writers (or website content writers) typically create content for websites, social media accounts and blogs. You should have search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge so you can place specific keywords in materials to improve a company’s visibility and website traffic.
Ghostwriters (also called freelance ghostwriters) write content for magazine articles, blog posts and books for payment but receive no credit or byline for their work. Ghostwriters are very useful when an author has a story to tell but isn’t good at writing or doesn’t have time to write a book. Executives, celebrities and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to write speeches, autobiographies or songs.
Salary Ranges and Expectations for Writing Jobs
How much money can you make as a writer? The median annual pay for a writer is around $62,170, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technical writers, who are often required to write more complex documents, earn about $71,850 a year.
Projected Growth Rate of the Writing Field
The job growth outlook for regular writers is 8% (about average) through 2026. The growth rate is 11% for technical writers — faster than average. More specialized writers often earn a better salary and enjoy a higher level of job security.
10 Ways to Find a Writing Job
Assuming you’ve got the education covered, what’s your best plan of attack for finding a writing job? Here are 10 ways you can find a writing job now:
- Check with your school’s career center. If you’re still in college or have recently graduated, take advantage of the career center. Career counselors have the inside scoop on jobs that match your education and skills.
- Join a professional organization. Connect with organizations such as the National Association of Writers to network with like-minded job seekers and also get info on job postings and other helpful resources.
- Jazz up your resume. You’re a writer, so potential clients will be expecting your resume to be nothing short of fantastic — no errors, good grammar, etc.
- Create a portfolio. Once you’ve made a comprehensive portfolio that showcases all of your best work, have an editor friend look it over and make sure you’re highlighting what you can do.
- Sign up with a staffing agency. There are agencies that specialize in finding creative jobs or for copywriters or communication writers.
- Start blogging. You can start a blog for free using WordPress. Share your blog everywhere — on social media, LinkedIn and with family and friends.
- Freelance. Search for freelance writing jobs on job search engines or start your own writing business. You can create a website for as low as $10 a month or spread the word on social media. You can set your own hours and pay rate.
- Network. Add contacts on sites such as LinkedIn to network with other writing professionals. You can also join writing groups on LinkedIn and Facebook to expand your network.
- Check out Writer’s Market. Writer’s Market, published yearly, features all the resources you need to find literary agents, publications and what they pay and much more. You can usually find older copies at your local library.
- Hone your craft. Consider taking a public relations course or other class to expand your knowledge and skill set.
Top 5 Skills to Be Successful at Writing
Good writing skills might not be enough to be successful in your writing career. Here are the top 5 skills you’ll need to land a good writing job:
1. Storytelling Skills
No matter what kind of writing job you’re targeting, good storytelling is a plus. Working for an ad agency may mean you’ll present your ideas to colleagues or develop a marketing campaign that requires a concrete storyline.
2. Creative Skills
Creativity is a must if you want to be a writer because you’ll need to come up with innovative ideas for topics, headlines and slogans.
3. Communication Skills
Writers need good overall communication skills, including verbal, presentation and interpersonal skills in addition to written skills. You may be asked to convey story pitches or other writing plans to team members and leaders.
4. Research Skills
Researching is a big part of writing because you’ll have to thoroughly research the subjects you’re writing about, whether you work at an automotive company or online media outlet.
5. Editing Skills
Good editing skills go hand-in-hand with good writing skills because you’ll need to know what to keep and what to get rid of when it comes to content. Online websites and hard copy often have word count limits, which requires a skilled editor to pare down an article without losing its integrity.
Writing Can Pay the Bills
Good writers are always needed across every industry. An average annual salary of $62,000+ means you can make a decent living doing something you love and even plan for retirement. Writing careers offer great flexibility in terms of where and when you can write — plus, you can always take on side gigs to make a little extra.
Looking for more creative positions? Check out Benzinga's guides to getting a marketing job, a job in graphic design, or a job online tutoring. You can also check out our live listings for journalism jobs.
About Laura Hipshire
Expert-level knowledge of Medicare Advantage plans and regulatory guidelines