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Gone are the days when the two main career options for someone who loved to write was either becoming a book author or working at a newspaper. Our 24-hour access to modern technology has created demand for more writing jobs than ever.
Advertising and content creation are in high demand across all industries. Finance, business, education, health care, hospitality, food and beverage, non-profits, sustainability, and DE&I are all industries that need writers. This demand means that there aren’t just opportunities to write, there are opportunities to create a living writing.
Technical writing, editing, copy and content writing are a few examples of writing careers that are available to you during your educational time at MSU Denver, and after. Below are brief explanations of each role to help you gain a better understanding of what the day-to-day of that job looks like.
We’ll also share some helpful information on how to pursue one of these careers!
Technical writers are able to take complex information, often from a specialized field, and explain the information in a way that’s accessible to the general public. By specialized fields we mean fields like medicine, manufacturing, sustainability, and technology. The following are examples of technical writing:
A technical writer’s goal depends on what type of content they’re writing. Sometimes they seek to help with product adoption. Other times they’re using complex information to sell a service.
But in all technical writing, there’s something complex that could be difficult to understand. So the technical writer has to find a way to make the content more approachable for the target audience.
Here are some additional examples of technical writing from The Society for Technical Communication:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writers earn a median income of $78,060 as of 2021. To enter the field, a bachelor’s degree is often needed, or five years of relative work experience. There were 52,300 technical writer jobs open in 2020. The field is projected to grow by 12% from 2020 to 2030.
To break into technical writing, it can help to have a degree that’s related to the field that you want to write in. This doesn’t necessarily mean an English degree. If you’re interested in becoming a technical writer for businesses, you may want to major in business and minor in English.
Be sure to talk to your advisor about what degrees make the most sense for you to graduate and be competitive within your field.
You can also take online courses that can certify you in different types of technical writing. The Society for Technical Communications can be a great place to start. They offer many courses for multiple technical writing opportunities.
Editing is a broad field to practice your writing trade in. As an editor, you can search for content or logical flaws in a piece of writing. You can help fix plot holes in a book or encourage better character development. Or, you can check spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax. And some editors do a mix of all these things together. Editors can also help authors develop their work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay in 2021 for editors was $63,350 per year. To break into this field, it’s helpful to have a bachelor’s degree or a few years experience in editing. In 2020, there were 108,600 editing jobs available. The industry is expected to grow at 5% from 2020 to 2030.
To become an editor, it’s a good idea to get a degree in English, potentially with an IDP in editing. The Individualized Degree Program (IDP) in editing can help you focus and hone your skills on editing while completing your degree. By completing an IDP, you may be able to work with a professor, editing their research. Or, you could find an internship where you get to practice your editing skills.
As always, be sure to talk to your advisor about the best route for you to become a successful editor during, and after college.
You can also complete online courses, like the ones provided at the Editorial Freelance Association, or the Society for Editing. Certifications from accredited courses can help increase your chances of landing your first, and future, editing gigs.
Copywriting is writing with the intent to inspire action, whereas content writing is writing to educate or entertain. As you can imagine, many pieces of writing are both content and copywriting.
The goal of a copywriter isn’t always to sell. Sometimes it’s to get someone to sign up for a newsletter, join an organization, volunteer, or like a Facebook page. Both content and copywriters must create meaningful content that’s important to the intended audience.
Copywriters and Content writers can also do technical writing, but, not all copy or content is technical.
Content writing and copywriting includes many different types of projects. Basically every single type of writing can be either content, copy, or both. Here are just a few examples of copy and content writing:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the 2021 median pay for a, “writer or author” (the closest descriptor to a copywriter or content writer) is $69,510. The industry is growing at 9% and there were 143,200 open jobs for authors and writers. The site recommends a bachelor’s degree for starting in the field.
To become a copywriter or content writer, it’s a good idea to consider an English major. If you want to write in a specific field, that field may make a good minor. The English department often offers copywriting courses at MSU Denver. Also, always discuss any career paths and major/minor decisions with your advisor.
|Technical Writing||Editing||Copywriting & Content Writing|
|Type of Writing||Taking complex problems and re-writing them in a way that is more accessible to the general public or intended audience.||Providing big picture (story structure, theme, content corrections, fallacy analysis, etc.) or line edits (punctuation, spelling, syntax) for a person or organization.||Copy: Using writing as a way to inspire the desired action.
Content: Writing with the intent to educate or entertain.
|Education or Experience||A bachelor’s degree or five years of relative experience||A bachelor’s degree or five years of relative experience||A bachelor’s degree|
|Degrees Needed*||Major in the field you want to write in, minor in English||Major in English, with an IDP in editing||Major in English|
*Always talk to your academic advisor to ensure you’re moving on the correct path to fulfil your degree and prepare yourself for your future career.
|Technical Writing Careers||Editing Careers||Copywriting Careers|
|Writers & Editors||Publishing Coordinator||Print Advertisements|
|Indexers||Content Editor||Direct Mail|
|Information Architects||Copy Editor||Brochures/Catalogs|
|Instructional Designers||Indexers||Public Relations Materials|
|Technical Illustrators||Editorial Specialist||Commercials/Multimedia Presentations|
|Globalization & Localization Specialists||Formatting||Online Marketing|
|Usability & Human Factors Professionals||Ghostwriting||E-mail Writer|
|Visual Designers||Line Editing|
|Web Designers & Developers||Video Game Editor|
|Teachers & Researchers of Technical Communication|
|Trainers and E-earning Developers|
Once you’ve completed your degree and/or online course work, there are often two ways that writers break into the writing field. They either set up shop as a freelance writer or editor. Or, they find a position in a company as their in-house writer or editor. There are many pros and cons to choosing to go out on your own as a freelancer vs. working in house.
Learn more about being self-employed vs. an employee.
The Writing Center is always available to support current and previous Roadrunners with their writing. We have a wide range of peer and professional consultants who would love to work with you on your project. Schedule your appointment if you’d like a second set of eyes on something you’re working on.