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Writer

Job Duties

Writers, also known as authors, create original works of fiction and nonfiction that are published in many different types of publications, including books, magazines, trade journals, online publications, company newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, motion pictures, and advertisements. Writers typically use personal computers, desktop or electronic publishing systems, scanners, and other electronic communications equipment. Some write material that is published directly on the Internet, through electronic newspapers and magazines and other types of electronic publications.

Writing

There are a number of different writing specializations. Writers who specialize in nonfiction need to gain credibility with their audiences by applying sound research and appropriate sources and citations. Poets, novelists, playwrights, lyricists, and screenwriters create original prose, poems, plays, and song lyrics that are either commissioned or written for hire. Newsletter writers create informational publications that are distributed to association members, corporate employees, organizational clients, or the public. Many writers work on a freelance basis, selling their services and work to various types of clients.

Job Skills

Writers should be creative, curious, and have knowledge in a wide array of subjects. They must have a passion for writing, and be able to express themselves clearly, concisely, and creatively. Writers need to have a good sense of ethics and judgment, as they often have to make important decisions regarding the material they publish. Self-motivation and perseverance are also important qualities.

Income

In 2002, writers earned a median annual salary of $42,790. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $21,320, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $85,140.

Training and Education

Writing positions usually require a college degree, typically in communications, journalism, or English, although some employers prefer a broad liberal arts background. For specialized fields, such as fashion, business, or legal writing, applicants should have specific knowledge of the subject. Valuable experience can be gained at high school and college newspapers, literary magazines, community newspapers, and radio and television stations. Internships at magazines, newspapers, and broadcast stations can also be very advantageous. Interns usually write short pieces, conduct research and interviews, and learn about the business.

Writers just starting out in small firms may begin writing material immediately. However, these small organizations can be limited in opportunities for advancement, and they may not have the resources to hire writers full-time. For this reason, many writers freelance with small organizations on a project-by-project basis. Larger firms usually have a more formal structure. Newly hired employees have designated responsibilities, including researching, fact checking, or copy editing. Promotion to full-scale assignments and more important material sometimes comes slowly.

Employment

In 2002, writers held about 139,000 jobs. More than half worked in the various sectors of the information industry.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of writers is expected to increase about as fast as the average due to the increasing demand for these employees from newspapers, periodicals, book publishers, and nonprofit organizations. Opportunities will be best for those with training in a specialized field.

For more information on a career as a writer, please see our directory of schools offering Media Training


Writer Training

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Ranked #12 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
            • The first elite researching university to offer a Master of Social Work degree online.
            • Has 4,000 field internship opportunities that give students real-world experience.
            • Online Courses
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Ranked 33rd among the Best Grad Schools for Social Work in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Founded in 1904 as the nation’s first institute of higher learning to offer training for clinical social workers.
            • Provides a rigorous education, including a nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) Program and PhD in Social Work.  
            • Offers inventive programs with hands-on experience.  
            • Incorporates social justice values and multicultural perspectives into curriculum. 
            • Online Courses
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
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            • Online Courses
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            Pacific Oaks College , Online (campus option available)
            • Founded over 60 years ago on the principles of inclusion and social justice.
            • Offers credit for previous life and work experience.
            • Equipped with over 17,000 titles in their library.
            • Has 3 semesters and 6 start dates a year.
            • Located in Pasadena, CA, with instructional sites in Sacramento, Salinas, Santa Cruz, and Visalia as well as online options.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
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            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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            • Accredited
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            Iowa Wesleyan University is a transformational learning community whose passion is to educate, empower and inspire students to lead meaningful lives and careers.

            Learning in Community: An Academic Vision

            The story of Iowa Wesleyan University is a story of community; its founding, an act of community; its long history, an affirmation of community. Its defining vision draws on a community of memory even as it forges a dynamic future.

            • Online Courses
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
            • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
            • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
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            Good for Working Adults
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            • A private, Christian, liberal arts university founded in 1905 and open to students of any faith.
            • Has an average class size of 20 students.
            • 97% of students receive financial aid, with the average freshman receiving $10,000.
            • Offers over 25 undergraduate degree programs.
            • Has approximately 5,000 students; 60% female and 40% male.
            • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits