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Writers and Editors Job Description, Career as a Writers and Editors, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median— $48,640 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Writers and editors are primarily responsible for creating written materials for dissemination through books, magazines, online publications, newspapers, manuals, and advertisements. Writers work together with editors to develop content.

There are various occupational titles for writers, and one can be a copy writer, technical writer, author, or a freelance writer.

Copy writers prepare advertising and marketing language used in publications or broadcasts. They work closely with marketing and advertising professionals, as well as graphic and multimedia designers, to construct a marketing product that meets the objectives of their employer or client.

Technical writers specialize in preparing manuals by creating a blend of graphics, sound, and text. Depending on their industry, technical writers can produce any of a range of technical materials, including operating manuals, assembly instructions, engineering documentation, computer help files, and other documents. Technical writers must be able to understand complex subject matter, and communicate it in a manner than explains it to others.

Freelance writers may be involved in various kinds of writing for advertising agencies, publishers, or manufacturing firms. On the other hand, authors tend to be involved in creating original works of art designed for both fiction and nonfiction categories. They may be novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, biographers, or textbook writers. Professional authors and writers work closely with their publishers to ensure that deadlines are met and goals are achieved.

The responsibilities of editors are a little varied from that of writers. They are primarily responsible for reviewing, rewriting, and editing the work of writers. Editors work with newspapers, magazines, book-publishers, and other publication houses. They check for grammar, content, accuracy, and style, thereby ensuring that the quality of any published article meets the standards. Increasingly, editors are taking on more project management responsibilities, managing many parts of the publishing process and delegating traditional copyediting tasks to freelance or in-house staff.

Education and Training Requirements

To start out as a writer or editor, one needs to have a college education in liberal arts. One can opt for degree programs in English, communications, or journalism. Those wishing to specialize in a particular field should have an educational background in the chosen sphere. For some positions, it is beneficial to have knowledge of another foreign language. It is also necessary to have the basic knowledge of computers, since technology plays an increasing role in writing and editing for any industry.

Aspiring technical writers and copywriters would do well to study relevant disciplines such as computer science or engineering. Similarly, it is beneficial for copywriters to be familiar with advertising, marketing, and graphic design.

Getting the Job

Job openings for positions of writers and editors are mostly advertised through job portals on the Internet. A lot of private agencies specialize in such recruitment, and have business relationships with large organizations. One can also look up the classified sections of newspapers. Many organizations also list their job openings on their own websites. This way, interested candidates can apply directly. It also helps to maintain contacts with classmates from school and college. Since a lot of writing and editing work is outsourced by companies, freelancing assignments can be a great way to enter the profession.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement possibilities may be limited in smaller organizations, but writers and editors in large companies can expect to be gradually given greater responsibilities like full-scale writing and editing of assignments. However, those looking for quick promotions should ideally look for jobs in small organizations. Editors generally start out in entry-level jobs like a copy editor, and gradually advance to assistant editor and executive editor positions.

Advancement in this field mostly pertains to working on bigger and more complicated projects. Over time, one can build an image of responsibility and credibility, and this will help in getting better employment opportunities with reputed publishing companies.

Writers and editors should also maintain close contacts with others from the profession, as this helps one find freelancing opportunities. A large number of companies do not have an in-house team of writers and editors, and regularly outsource the work to freelancers. Also, blogging is fast becoming a craze, and well-written blogs may eventually lead to paid assignments for print and electronic publications.

The job market for writers and editors is expected to expand by 10% in the next ten years. Employment opportunities are the most favorable for those with experience in a specialized field of technical writing and editing. Rapid change in technology creates a greater demand for skilled people who can effectively communicate with general customers. Writing for the interactive media is also a viable option.

Working Conditions

Most writers and editors work in comfortable offices, in clean and well-lit surroundings. They generally enjoy flexible work hours and can even work from home in certain cases. Freelance writers and editors can set their own schedules. However, in cases of emergency where deadlines have to be met, they often work in the evenings and during weekends. Those in large organizations have to handle multiple projects at the same time, and may be stressed out due to constant pressure and erratic work hours. Also, since writers and editors spend a large part of the day at their desks and in front of computers, they may experience health problems like eye strain, back aches, and fatigue.

Where to Go for More Information

Society for Technical Communication, Inc.
901 N. Stuart St., Suite 904
Arlington, VA 22203

National Writers Association
10940 S. Parker Road, #508
Parker, CO 80134

National Writers Union (NWU) National Office
113 University Place, 6th Fl.
New York, NY 10003

National Association of Science Writers
P.O. Box 890
Hedgesville, WV 25427

Earnings and Benefits

According to a 2006 national salary survey, writers and editors had median yearly salary of $48,640. The salaries were the highest for those in technical fields, and they reported median annual salary of $58,050. Those in advertising and related services earned about $50,650 per year, while writers and editors associated with periodicals, books, newspapers, and directory publishers earned $45,970 every year. The pay scale is lower in entry level positions, and new writers can earn anywhere from $25,000 to $40,400 annually, depending on their industry. On the other hand, senior writers and editors can expect a median yearly salary of $69,000.

Writers and editors generally enjoy a host of benefits. Some common benefits include flexible work schedules, paid leaves and vacations, transit subsidies, health insurance, teleworking opportunities, and also free memberships to certain employee clubs.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts