Become an Advertising Copywriter: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 04, 2020

Learn how to become an advertising copywriter. Check out the career requirements and experience required for starting a career as an advertising copywriter.

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Advertising Copywriters

Advertising copywriters develop content used to market and promote goods and services. They write ad copy, jingles, and slogans featured in magazines, television commercials, and other media outlets. The advertising world is a fast-paced environment, and advertising copywriters produce copy under tight deadlines. Some copywriters work as freelancers for a variety of advertising firms, while others work in-house for just one company. Advertising copywriters can advance to positions as communications specialists or creative directors.

Career Information

In order to become an advertising copywriter, you'll most likely need to earn a bachelor's degree in communications, English, marketing, or a related field. Some positions may also require prior experience in the field. Prospective employers may want to see samples of applicants' work to ensure they are capable of producing quality advertisements. Key skills that can help advertising copywriters succeed in the field include the ability to work under strict deadlines, creativity, and persuasiveness. They should also be proficient in the use of copywriting and graphic design software. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of May 2018, writers and authors in general who worked in media and communications earned a median annual salary of $62,170 and can expect little to no change in jobs from 2018-2028.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

Many colleges and universities offer four-year degree programs in communications with concentrations in advertising. In these programs, students get a comprehensive overview of the industry and take courses in mass communications law, public relations, consumer behavior, communications theory, and strategic campaigning. Students also learn to develop their creativity and learn to produce copy for different types media.

Success tip: Participate in an internship. Advertising internships offer students opportunities to gain experience in the field and learn about the advertising industry. Some schools offer internships as part of degree programs, though students can also pursue these opportunities on their own by contacting advertising and marketing firms.

Step 2: Gain Writing Experience

Kicking off a career in advertising can be difficult, since many employers want copywriters with prior experience. New advertising copywriters can gain experience by writing content for television and radio stations, not-for-profit organizations and publications. Freelancing is a viable option, since it allows writers to sell their work to various advertising agencies and publications. Writing a blog can also give aspiring copywriters exposure.

Step 3: Advance with Experience

After obtaining a position with an advertising, marketing, or public relations agency, copywriters may start out by completing lower-level tasks and writing basic content for ads. As they demonstrate their writing skills and ability to meet deadlines, they may receive more complex assignments and functions, like strategic market planning and concept development.

Success tip: Develop a portfolio. Advancing through the advertising industry as a copywriter requires a portfolio that emphasizes both writing strengths and knowledge of the business aspects of advertising. A portfolio may consist of a variety of print advertisements, recordings of television or radio spots, and links to online advertising. A portfolio is often the deciding factor for employers seeking copywriters.

Success tip: Join a professional organization. Advertising copywriters can join the American Association of Advertising Agencies or American Marketing Association. These organizations provide industry news, job boards, and opportunities to network with industry leaders from other agencies and organizations. Some also host educational seminars, both live and online.

Let's review. You'll probably need to earn a bachelor's degree in communications, English, marketing, or a related field to get a job as an advertising copywriter. In May 2018, writers and authors in general who worked in media and communications earned a median salary of $62,170.

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