Poet: Job Information for Those Considering a Career in Poetry

Sep 13, 2019

Learn more about the career of a poet. Discover the required training and skills, in addition to the employment outlook for writers and authors, to decide if this is the right field for you.

Career Definition for a Poet

A poet writes poetry that is rhymed or free verse. Some poets (although rare) can make a living through publishing books of their poetry. Other poets are hired to interpret and represent a client's creative needs into written prose. Often working for publishing companies and advertising agencies, poets write poetry books, songs, advertising jingles and verses for greeting cards. Additionally many poets find themselves in academic fields, especially in a postsecondary setting.

Field of Study Liberal arts
Job Skills Understanding of voice and language, presentation skills, meeting deadlines
Median Salary (2017)* $61,820 for writers and authors
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 8% for writers and authors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Successful poets use their creativity and advanced education to write poetry that is marketable. There are many 2-year, junior colleges and 4-year colleges and universities that offer liberal arts programs and degrees for writers who want to become poets. English literature, composition, creative writing, writing workshop and poetic structure classes are usually included in a liberal arts degree curriculum.

Skills Required

Poets need an excellent understanding of language, poetic voice, style and structure. They should have a diverse writing portfolio, good presentation skills to gain clients and are usually required to have a large network of fellow writers or industry professionals. Writers in general often work on strict deadlines, so the ability to be creative under pressure is helpful.

Career and Economic Outlook

The Library of Congress reports that the U.S. Poet Laureate, the official promoter of poetry in the United States appointed by the Library of Congress, was given a stipend of $35,000 in 2016. Typically, however, poets are self-employed doing freelance writing projects for book and magazine publishers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected jobs for authors and writers to grow by 8% from 2016-2026, which is as fast as average. However, the popularity of venues for spoken word poetry and online poetry blogs has resulted in new revenue resources for poets. The BLS also reported an annual median salary of $61,820 for all writers and authors.

Alternate Career Options

If poetry isn't your thing, you might consider these other careers in writing:


Editors review and revise content before publication; they normally have a bachelor's degree in journalism, English or communications, in addition to media experience. The BLS reported an annual median salary of $58,770 in 2017 and predicted a 1% job decline for editors from 2016-2026.

Technical Writer

With a bachelor's degree and experience with technical subjects, like engineering or computer science, technical writers prepare instruction manuals and other supporting materials that pertain to technical information, to be given to manufacturers and customers. A faster than average employment growth of 11% was projected by the BLS for technical writers, during the 2016-2026 decade. In 2017, they earned a median wage of $70,930 per year, according to the BLS.

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