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How to Become a Grant Writer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a grant writer. Research the job description and duties as well as the education requirements and find out how to start a career in grant writing.

Should I Become a Grant Writer?

Grant writers create research proposals that request funding from various agencies. They might work for universities, social service organizations or in the healthcare field. Grant writers need a solid command of the written word and efficient research skills to craft successful grant proposals. They usually work on a contractual basis, allowing them to determine their own schedules. They may also work from remote locations.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required for most positions
Degree Fields Any writing-intensive major, such as English, journalism, communications or marketing
Experience Previous grant writing experience important to most employers
Key Skills Detail-oriented, communication skills, writing skills, computer research skills, experience with productivity software
Salary (2015) $42,968 per year (median wage for grant writers)

Source: Payscale.com

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Grant writers require excellent communication skills to create compelling grant proposals that result in funding for a project. Any undergraduate program that involves heavy use of writing and persuasive tactics gives grant writers the ability to practice this skill. Aside from the writing aspect, coursework in journalism, public relations, marketing or English programs can also provide other useful qualifications for this type of position.

Step 2: Take Courses in Grant Writing

Some colleges and universities offer certificate programs in grant writing, which cover beginning, intermediate and advanced proposal writing, as well as identifying potential sources of grant funding for a project. These professional development certificates are designed to help novice and current grant writers attain a strong set of skills they can immediately put into practice. These certificate programs are often offered at least partially online or as individual classes designed as crash courses on specific grant writing topics.

Step 3: Acquire Grant Writing Experience

Most employers require a minimum of two years of grant writing experience. This is the case for even part-time and temporary positions. In fact, prior experience seems to be more important than the discipline in which an individual has earned a degree. Although some employers may specify degrees in a certain field of study, such as journalism, most only require that candidates have a bachelor's degree. To acquire the experience needed to gain employment, individuals should volunteer or complete internships in the field, preferably in the industry they hope to work, while completing their degree program. The more experience acquired during college, the more opportunities for employment post-graduation.

Step 4: Gain Industry Experience

In addition to grant writing experience, many employers look for grant writers who have familiarity with the industry in which they are writing grants to fund. For instance, healthcare organizations seek grant writers who understand the workings of the medical industry, which can be gained through professional or volunteer work. Colleges and universities prefer grant writers with higher education industry experience. Many grants fund projects for nonprofit organizations and those organizations prefer grant writers who have worked with nonprofits in other capacities, for instance, as fundraisers or publicists. Familiarity with a specific industry makes it easier for writers to produce successful grant proposals.

Step 5: Join a Professional Association

Membership in a group for grant writers can allow an individual to gain access to more training and job opportunities. It also allows individuals to attend conferences and network with other grant-writing professionals.

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