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Careers for Writers

Using your writing skills in the work force.

Social media, emails, blogs, television, and 24-hour access to technology and information has increased the need for professionals in communication, creating opportunities and job variety for professional writers, as well as increased the value of writing as a career.

There is a growing need for professional writers in business, education, healthcare, finance, advertising, social media, and beyond. Technical writing, copywriting, and editing are just a few examples of great careers available for the talented writer. Below are brief definitions and explanations to provide a better, more in-depth understanding of what these positions entail and how to begin the pursuit of a career in one of these fields!


Technical Writing

Technical writing requires the ability to comprehend information and language used in technical or specialized careers and explain this material in a way that a general audience can understand. It can be anything from communicating technology, explaining instructions, or clarifying complex products in order to make them more user friendly, like for example, directions for assembling a bookshelf. The ultimate goal of any technical writer should be to communicate complex information quickly and efficiently in order to simplify and facilitate productivity.

Examples of Technical writing careers

The Society for Technical Communication lists a few examples of technical writing professions which include: technical writers & editors, indexers, information architects, instructional designers, technical illustrators, globalization & localization specialists, usability & human factors professionals, visual designers, web designers & developers, teachers & researchers of technical communication, trainers and E-learning developers.

Income and job growth

O*Net Online compiles and organizes data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, according to its findings, a career in technical writing can be quite lucrative. As of 2017 the lowest annual income average reported in the United States was $42,410.00 and the highest average income reported was $113,810.00 with the median income reported at $70,930.00. In addition, between the years 2016 to 2026 job growth is projected to increase 11% with an estimated 5,700 job openings annually.

How to break into the world of Technical writing

The Society for Technical Communications offers a variety of different online courses that aim to improve skills and expand experience. Any type of online course or experience is a step in the right direction. Of course it doesn’t hurt to already have technical experience in a specific field in which case focusing on improving writing skills would be a productive action to take. Below is a link to the STC’s online course opportunities.

https://www.stc.org/education/online-courses/

Editing

Editing is a very broad category and the actual job description of an editor is created based on the needs of the client or employer depending the type of copy they need edited. Some editors search for content flaws, edit, and then rewrite copy to improve readability. Others simply check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax, while still others edit based on the content, writing style, and the language of a work. A career in editing is full of opportunities, especially if you are willing to find your niche.

Examples of Editing careers

The world of editing is actually quite broad and there is a need for different types of editors. As long as there is material that needs to be analyzed and critiqued according to the needs of the client or employer then there is work for an editor. Some examples include, but are not limited to: content editor, copy editor, editorial specialist, editor, publishing coordinator, indexer, format specialist, ghostwriter, line editor and a seemingly endless options of freelance work.

Income and job growth

O*Net Online reported that as of 2017 the lowest annual income average reported in the United States for editors was $30,830.00 and the highest average income reported was $114,460.00, with the median income reported at $58,770.00. However, unlike the other professions in this document, editing job growth is expected to decrease by 1% between the years 2016 to 2026 with an estimated 12,000 job openings annually.

How to break into the world of Editing

Some frequent advice from not just editors, but all writing professionals, is the ability to network yourself. This is true for freelancers and those looking to work for a company. The ability to advertise your skills and to continuously build professional connections is priceless and ultimately what determines the amount of success you will achieve in the industry. Of course, if you don’t currently have the skills needed to get hired it is important to build on your education. EFA the Editorial Freelancers Association hosts a variety of online courses and webinars designed specifically for freelance editors, additionally ACES The Society for Editing offers editing bootcamps, online certificate programs and individual online courses, and even a mentorship program. If unsure where to begin a career in editing these associations are a great resource to get a little more education and knowledge in the area. There are several websites, like Fiverr, a freelance website that helps connect freelancers with clients, that can help jump start a career. You might also  look for local editor’s groups or even the university for some opportunities. Below are the links for the editing associations.

https://aceseditors.org/

https://www.the-efa.org/

www.fiverr.com

Copywriting

Copywriting  is considered persuasive communication as opposed to informative communication, like technical writing. The end goal of a copywriter is to inspire consumers to purchase a product, or other actions (volunteering, donating, etc.). Copywriting opportunities are vast and the possibilities seem endless, but to state it simply, copywriting can be defined as writing advertisements. A copywriter must create brief and eye catching “copy” that, in the end, inspires readers to take action and/or purchase a product.

Examples of Copywriting careers

In his book, The Copywriter’s Handbook, Robert W. Bly provides and expands upon a list of different copywriting genres which include: print advertisements, direct mail, brochures/catalogs, public relations materials, commercials/multimedia presentations, online marketing,  and email, to name a few. Where there are products that need advertised there is a need for copywriters.

Income and job growth

O*Net Online reported that as of 2017 the lowest annual average income reported in the United States for copywriters was $30,520.00 and the highest reported average income was $118,760.00 with the median being $61,820.00. Additionally, between the years 2016 to 2026 job growth is projected to increase 8% with an estimated 12,600 job openings annually.

How to break into the world of Copywriting

The marketing industry is extensive and therefore the demand for copywriters is high. Some recommendations for breaking into the industry include: creating and submitting specs or samples of your work, learning the basics of the industry and applying them, being a strong writer, staying culturally aware, responding to ads for projects with a brief, personal “query” as explained by M. Dennis Taylor on his website “The Copy Pros." Of course, just like in technical writing, taking courses that offer copywriting education in order to improve knowledge and skill can be a great option to try and jump start a career in this field.

Writing Career Skills

List of writing skills by career, as listed above

 

Writing Careers Job Chart

List of writing careers, by specialty

 

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