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Creative Writer: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a creative writer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and key skills to find out if this is the career for you.

A creative writer must be able to conjure up new and interesting ideas and convey them to the audience in an engaging way. Creative writers work for magazines, websites, advertising, or freelance for whoever needs them; self-employment is another option. Their education varies, but workshops and degrees are available, and typically preferred.

Essential Information

Creative writers work in a variety of industries and contribute written content in a number of formats and media options. Creative writers employ their imagination and discipline to meet company or publication deadlines. Several academic avenues may lead to a career as a creative writer.

Required Education Usually a bachelor's degree
Key Skills Writing talent, originality, ability to work independently and self-promotion abilities
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for all writers and authors
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $60,250 for all writers and authors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of Creative Writers

Creative writers produce written copy in the form of books, editorial articles, screenplays and promotional marketing material. Creative writing combines the talents of the writer with the elements of observation and analysis in an artistic portrayal of the human condition. With the mastery of the written word, a writing professional establishes settings, messages, themes and style within a single marketing paragraph or throughout an entire novel.

Many different fields utilize the talent of the creative writer. Advertising companies hire copywriters to prepare scripts for use in publications or broadcasting. Public relations firms employ writers to produce biographies, press releases and marketing materials for clients. Corporate communications departments engage creative writers for sales brochures, online promotional content and direct response letters. Fiction writers may be self-employed or develop creative works for businesses, academia or publishing companies.

Requirements for Creative Writing

Creative writing jobs have a variety of personal and educational requirements. Writers must have a vivid imagination and be able to handle criticism and rejection. They must be able to work independently and have the ability to promote themselves and their work. Creative writers require originality, determination and discipline.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers of creative writers and editors prefer those with a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). An English degree may lead to jobs that require creativity, research, writing and communication of ideas. In addition to writing, English majors study literature from different countries and eras, including short stories, poetry, drama and novels. Several schools offer a creative writing undergraduate major or concentration within an English program. Other majors that may be useful include:

  • Communications
  • Public relations
  • Journalism
  • Advertising

Creative writers seeking to advance their education and improve or learn new writing techniques may participate in a number of writing workshops available through schools, organizations and seminars provided by successful authors. Additionally, graduate degrees in creative writing may also lead to a career in academia or management within a company. Master's programs allow student to focus on studies in fiction, poetry or creative non-fiction. Intern opportunities and teaching assistantships may be available for prospective creative writing teachers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Job growth for writers and authors from 2014-2024 was predicted to be slow, at only 2%, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2015, the BLS noted an annual median salary of $60,250 for these professionals.

The most important quality of a creative writer is simply creativity, in mind and on paper. While no college education may be needed for author types, the majority of employers look for a bachelor's degree in English or related field. Like other writers, they should be able to handle criticism and high turnover times.

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