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Salary and Career Info for a TV Writer

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

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A TV writer must be creative, organized, and possess exceptional writing skills. The kind of writing differs by program theme (e.g. political, humor) but writers need to make sure the material is credible and free of plagiarism.

Essential Information

TV writers produce scripts for all kinds of television programs, from news to scripted comedies and dramas. TV writers often have at least some post-secondary schooling; earning a bachelor's degree in writing is common.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -2.5% people in television broadcasting
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $60,250 for all writers and authors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

TV Writer Salary Information

The Writers Guild of America publishes a Schedule of Minimums that covers pay rates for various projects (www.wga.org). From May 2016 to May 2017, a TV writer working for NBC, FBC, CBS or ABC can expect to earn $38,302 for a 60-minute primetime network program (story and teleplay). Some TV writers may receive residuals. Writers and authors in general earned a median annual wage of $60,250 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

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  • Creative Writing, General
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TV Writer Career Information

Career Overview

TV writers produce content for television broadcasts, including news programs and TV series episodes. They may also produce scripted material for the Internet or other communication devices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in television broadcasting can expect job declines of 2.5% from 2014-2024.

Job Description

TV writers of documentary and news (non-fiction) programs may conduct research in libraries, over the Internet, or through interviews, reports from news analysts, and personal observations. Credibility is an issue for non-fiction TV writers, who must possess strong research skills and the ability to find credible sources. TV writers may also write scripts for various TV programs, including dramas and comedies as well as specials, such as the Oscars.

TV Writer Skills

TV writers must have excellent writing skills. They must have the abilities to persevere through many drafts of the script and to accept criticism. In addition, they must be patient and able to carefully analyze their scripts and make improvements.

TV Writer Educational Requirements

Writers across all fields typically have at least a bachelor's degree or some post-secondary training in writing. Some colleges and universities offer certificate programs in script writing. These programs may be in workshop formats that allow participants to draft a script and have it critiqued by fellow participants. The minimum educational requirement for these certificate programs is a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Many colleges and universities that have film and television or media departments also offer Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Screenwriting programs. In a typical MFA program, students might create a portfolio of spec scripts, including a one-hour TV pilot, and present their pilot. An MFA program can teach structure, but also creative, flexible thinking, and visual storytelling as well as help a TV writer find his or her distinctive voice.

The educational requirements for television writers vary by program and employer, but most demand post-secondary writing coursework, especially script writing. Some communications degree programs include script writing in their curriculum. Writers who work in television have highly fluctuating salaries, but writers and authors in general make nearly $60,250 per year.

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