Speech writers typically have a background in English, communications, or journalism, and manage oral communications for a variety of corporate or public figures. Career statistics aren't available specifically in speech writing, but rather the fields of writers and authors, which remains very competitive.
Speech writers pen speeches for leaders such as politicians, CEOs and university presidents; a speech writer's words and phrases should effectively convey the policy or agenda of the speaker. A bachelor's degree in communications or journalism is generally required for this profession.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||2% for writers and authors, 4% for media and communications writers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$60,250 for writers and authors|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Mass Communication Studies
- Speech Communications and Rhetoric
Speech writers research complicated issues and then organize and simplify them for general and specific audiences. They are often asked to make last-minute revisions before deadlines.
People who succeed at speech writing are excellent collaborators. They must be able to adapt to the hands-on style of some speakers who know what they want to say and work closely with speech writers. Other executives prefer speech writers to analyze the subject matter on their own and then submit a speech for editorial review. Writers must adapt to the personal style of the speech maker to finalize a speech that reflects the style, standards and goals of a public official or corporate officer.
Speech writers work for elected officials, public relations firms, corporations, non-profit organizations and universities. They also might work as freelance writers. A speech writer at a university might prepare speeches for administrators that reflect institutional policies. A CEO might use a speech writer to help convey corporate policies and decisions at a conference. Some communications and public relations jobs include speech writing duties in addition to preparing written material and developing marketing strategies.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers who worked in the advertising and public relations industry averaged a salary of $77,450 in 2015, and those working for the federal executive branch of government earned an average of $90,440. Data from the BLS shows the highest concentration of jobs for writers in 2015 was in the District of Columbia, with New York a distant second.
The BLS reports jobs for writers and authors are expected to grow at the slower than average rate of 2% from 2014 to 2024. The BLS predicts writers with electronic media expertise might gain an advantage in this competitive field.
Speech writers should acquire a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or English. Students interested in writing speeches for politicians might find it useful to obtain a political science minor.
Speech courses help writers learn to prepare a speech and understand the audience/speaker dynamic. Speech courses teach argument, persuasion and rhetoric skills. Students learn to:
- Gather information
- Understand mass communication
- Engage audiences
- Deliver sound bites
- Convey policy
- Use communication technology
The field of writers and authors is growing at a lower than average pace, however the field of communications has slightly better prospects over the next four years. Higher education, versatility, and strong communication skills all give speech writers an upper hand in this field. Salary can vary depending on sector.