Careers in Grant Writing: Career Options and Education Requirements

Sep 27, 2019

A career in grant writing does not require any postsecondary education, but a degree in English or communications is advantageous. Learn about education, responsibilities, and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

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Often employed by non-profit organizations, grant writers utilize their writing skills to create proposals for funding purposes. Many employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline, such as English or communications; however, this is not a professional requirement and completion of a one-year certificate program in grant writing may suffice. Some of the postsecondary coursework that can help aspiring grant writers prepare for this career include research, advanced grammar and technical writing.

Essential Information

Grant writers work closely with organizations to develop proposals for funding. A grant writer must possess strong written communication, financial, grammar and research skills, as well as an understanding of the guidelines and regulations of the grant process.

Required Education Bachelor's degree preferred
Other Requirements Certification is offered, but optional
Projected Growth (2018-2028)* 8% (all technical writers)
Median Salary (2019)** $45,238

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Career Options for Grant Writers

Grant writers often work for non-profit organizations. These groups may seek funding for the implementation and operations of medical facilities, community programs or youth organizations. Grant writers who develop proposals for these types of organizations must be familiar with their particular group's mission and plan for the future.

Universities also employ grant writers for various projects, such as applying for research funding grants. Other employers can include government agencies, businesses and corporations.

Grant writing can be a highly competitive, yet lucrative business for a writer who is willing to dedicate the time and energy needed to succeed in this area. Grant writers can be hired on a permanent or temporary basis.

Those hired for temporary employment may work only on specific tasks, while permanent positions typically involve all aspects of the grant writing process, including recommending grants to pursue, writing grant proposals and providing any additional information needed to the grant-making organizations. Depending on experience and proven track record, many contract-based grant writers are able to set their own fees for service.

These writers may be paid per hour or project, or they may receive commissions based on the grants they obtain. September 2019 salary info on PayScale.com indicated that the median annual salary for grant writers was $48,331. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects 8% employment growth for technical writers, including grant writers, over the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov).

Education Requirements for Grant Writers

Having a strong background in writing or communications is often the only requirement for becoming a grant writer. A degree in English or communications can be very beneficial for someone who aspires to work in this field.

Courses in technical writing, grant and proposal writing, advanced grammar and editing, as well as research and finance can all serve as critical training. In some grant writing specializations, individuals must have knowledge or skills specific to their particular fields so additional courses can be necessary. For example, those who specialize in medical grant proposals should have backgrounds in science in order to understand the projects for which they are pursuing funding.

Colleges and universities offer certificate programs in grant writing, which can be completed in less than a year. Students may learn how to plan budgets, target grant funds, manage grant solicitations and write proposals. In some programs, students write and submit an actual grant proposal.

Certification is offered by various organizations and is an option for grant writers looking to enhance their qualifications. For example, the Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) offers the Grant Professional Certification (GPC) credential, while the American Grant Writers' Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer (CGW) credential to individuals who pass an exam.

These credentials must be renewed periodically, which can be done by participating in professional development activities, such as attending conferences, presenting workshops, completing study courses and volunteering.

A grant writer needs to have a solid understanding of a company or organization's goals and mission in order to apply this knowledge to the proposals they develop; this can involve grasping financial matters and conducting thorough research. Some companies require grant writers to have a background in a specific discipline, such as an employer who hires grant writers with a science degree to write proposals in the medical field. Professional certification is available through several organizations, which may serve to validate a candidate's qualifications when seeking work.

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