Education 105
Career Report #2

Career Report:
Writer / Author


A good writer uses the written word to communicate ideas, images, feelings, information, and opinions. The fiction writer creates unique, original works which take many forms: novels, short stories, poetry, scripts, and dramas. A non-fiction writer composes writings which donít allow as much creativity, such as magazine articles, financial reports, instruction manuals, newsletters, and of course non-fiction books. Writers can work freelance, under contract, or ďon staff.Ē A good fiction writer may write anything from a satirical short story to a movie script. They have more independence, and are allowed to be relatively freeform in their style. On the other hand, non-fiction writers are relatively restrained to how much originality.

Education / Training Required

For freelance writers, there are very few educational requirements, but having at least some college education is a definite advantage. Basically anyone can write freelance, but the people who have taken classes and have experience are the ones most likely to get published. Employers looking for staff writers will generally look for the candidates to have a bachelorís degree, but in more specialized fields of writing (such as a composer of commercial jingles), the employer will be looking for someone with experience relevant to the job. While the degree of education required obviously changes depending on the specific occupation, all future writers are well-advised to seek a broad education, courses in various types of writing, and experience in the field of writing.

Individual Qualities Needed

Any kind of writer ought to be creative, inspired, and resourceful. Any writer has to be able to write logically and effectively, and should have traits including patience, perseverance, self-confidence, and a sense of responsibility. Many writers will be working under pressure, particularly the pressure of deadlines. They have to be able to concentrate and also effectively listen to criticism, provided it is constructive criticism. (Writers who receive destructive criticism also need to know how to effectively punch someone in the nose.) Freelance writers need to be able to work alone (cats in the authorís windowsill notwithstanding); also, beginning freelancers should expect letdowns and be able to support themselves on small budgets.

Salary / Employment Outlook

In a 2001 study, the Economic Research Institute reported that the average starting salary for a writer was $31,000 or $15 per hour. The average salary of all workers in the field came to $44,000 ($21.25 per hour), and for those with experience, an average of $57,000 annually ($27.50 per hour).

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that, in 2000-01, the average salary for an author or writer was $43,500 yearly. Other sources have noted that this industry can have a high unemployment rate. The salary figures, however, have ranged from as little as $10,000 to $5,000,000 per year. (Anyone who is Stephen King can make $5,000,000.)

As far as employment outlook is concerned, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the entirety of the field of writers and authors, there are approximately 340,800 workers. The figure is expected to grow by 24% within the next few years. The number of jobs is also expected to increase faster than average through the year 2008. Employment of salaried writers (and editors) for newspapers, book publishers, nonprofit organizations, and such are predicted to expand proportionately to the demand for such publications.

Still Interested?

Very much so, especially considering that I now know that there are jobs that may actually pay you to be sarcastic. Who wouldnít want the job title of Professional Wiseacre? Actually, if anything I am more interested than before in the field, particularly since I know more information. I always have felt that a good idea will keep someone up during the day, but a great idea will keep them up at night. Actually, Iím not finding myself with all that much to say now, which probably isnít a good thing considering that this is a (minor) piece of writing Iím doing. Iím sure that seconds after I hit the Print button I will think of something clever that would have been perfect. Iím going to pursue the field of writing, though, because when inspiration comes to someone, you donít ignore it Ö you take advantage of it.