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Copywriter Vs. Journalist: What's the Difference?

Copywriters and journalists are both communications professionals; however, these professionals have different job duties and education requirements. A copywriter often majors in advertising or marketing, while journalists typically earn a degree in journalism or mass communications.

There are both similarities and differences in the job duties, educational preparation and salaries for copywriters and journalists.

What's the Difference Between Copywriters and Journalists?

Copywriters typically work in advertising and marketing campaigns for a wide range of businesses and organizations. Journalists, on the other hand, report on news and feature stories across several potential forms of media. Although some training for these careers overlap (such as the importance of a strong writing and English background), copywriters generally study public relations, advertising and marketing, while journalists usually major in journalism or mass communications.

About Copywriters

Copywriters are responsible for writing clever words and phrases that persuade consumers to purchase products and services. The text composed by copywriters is often found on billboards, print ads, promotional fliers and radio scripts. Industries that employ copywriters may include:

  • Advertising
  • Retail
  • Marketing
  • Information technology services
  • Healthcare

Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is typically needed to work as a copywriter. Although many majors are possible, aspiring copywriters typically choose programs that can help them build their writing, oral communication, sales, customer service and media skills. Therefore, some popular majors include:

  • English
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Communications

Salary Information

According to the BLS, writers and authors (which included copywriters) made an average yearly salary of $71,920 as of May 2016. There was a vast variance in wages, however, for this career; the bottom ten percent of workers earned $29,380 or less each year, while the top ten percent of professionals made $118,640 or more.

About Journalists

Journalists write, edit and report articles for a wide variety of audiences that are distributed through broadcast, electronic and print mediums. They may cover news and events for newspapers and television networks, write entertainment articles for the Internet or magazines, or report on sports for local radio stations, among other possibilities.

Education

The BLS reported that journalists also typically need at least a bachelor's degree. Students may earn a degree specifically in a journalism-related field, or they may pursue a broader liberal arts degree for a more well-rounded education to help them build their critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills. Possible majors include:

  • Journalism
  • Mass communication
  • Communication studies
  • English
  • Political science

Salary Information

The BLS also notes that reporters and correspondents (which included journalists) earned an average salary of $49,770 in May 2016. The top ten percent of professionals took in $86,610 or more per year, while the bottom ten percent of wage earners made $22,120 or less.

Journalists typically have news-related jobs in media settings, while copywriters work in marketing. They may or may not major in the same subjects to prepare; there are also differences in salary for these professionals.

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