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Book Critic: Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a book critic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Book critics analyze literature and write objective reviews for newspapers, magazines and blogs. Many critics are freelance writers, not employed by a particular publication. There are no set requirements for book critics, but degrees in English, journalism and mass communications that focus on the writing and critical reading skills may be helpful for this career field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in English, journalism or a related field could be helpful
Projected Job Growth3% for all writers and authors from 2012-22*
Median Salary$57,750 for all writers and authors (2013)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Aspiring book critics can earn degrees in English, journalism or mass communications to prepare for employment. A Bachelor of Arts in English requires the completion of courses such as British and American literature, creative writing, critical thinking, literary criticism, advanced grammar and linguistics. Many schools offer variations on the coursework required to complete a degree in English, but the basics of most programs are consistent.

Journalism schools offer degree programs that focus on the skills necessary to work as a book critic. These courses include critical writing, revising and editing, opinion writing and research. A bachelor's degree in mass communications can also help prepare a student for a career as a book critic. Mass communications encompasses the study of written and oral communication while focusing on multiple ways to transmit that communication. Courses in traditional and electronic media, editing, critical thinking, reporting and organizational skills can be useful for aspiring book critics.

These 4-year degree programs provide students the opportunity to develop skills such as the ability to analyze the theme and symbolism of a piece of literature and to objectively and critically write reviews.

Career Information

According to the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), book critics are made up of a membership that includes authors, book publishers and literary bloggers (www.bookcritics.org). These professionals are responsible for the objective review of a variety of literature. Journalists who work for magazines or newspapers can also write reviews for their publications.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors, including authors who work as book critics, earned a median annual salary of $57,750 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for reporters who work in the newspaper, periodical, book and publishing industry was $40,240 for the same time period.

Writers working as book critics often work on a freelance basis. According to the BLS, about 66% of workers in the authors and writers category were self-employed as of 2012.

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