9 Jobs for Creative Writing Majors Where You’ll Actually Use Your Degree
Try as we might, most of us won’t rocket out of undergrad with a BFA in creative writing and a book deal with Random House. But if you do your degree right, you will come out with solid skills in communication, rhetoric, critical thinking, organization, research, attention to detail, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to handle and make use of criticism. Not to mention how well-read you’ll be.
Creative writing majors get a bad rap, criticized for pursuing a degree with no clear job trajectory. But that’s the advantage of being a creative writing major—there are so many things you can do with it.
Here are nine jobs for creative writing majors that will actually let you use your degree.
1. Technical writer/editor
Technical writers and editors are ultra detail-oriented professionals who write manuals, instructions, processes, and guidelines. They deal with regulations and laws and serve as keepers of precise language. If you pursue this kind of career, you might work in medicine or pharma (which often requires a little extra training and a certification or two), nuclear regulation, engineering (of all kinds), software, government, or finance. Technical writing salaries typically start in the $50,000s and can exceed $100,000.
2. Communications coordinator/manager/director
Like tech writers, communications professionals are employable across all kinds of industries—finance, PR, marketing, NGOs, health care, software, museums, technology, travel, consumer goods, media, education, law, government—pretty much anywhere a company or organization needs to communicate with clients or customers or, in large organizations, a lot of people within the company. In this kind of position you might write press releases and memos, craft corporate messaging, or even dabble in email, social media, or marketing campaigns. Your salary will vary widely based on your industry and experience.
It’s a legit job, folks, and a lucrative one at that. Host your own or land a job as a producer, which can make you about $65,000 per year. The barrier to entry is pretty low, but competition is high to stand out in a flooded market. But you’ve got those excellent storytelling skills, so we feel like you’ve got this.
You’ll need at least an MFA in creative writing (or a Ph.D. in English, depending on what you’d like to teach and how high you’d like to climb) if you’d like to teach at the college level, but it’s a career that will afford you the time to write, and will even require it of you. Creative writing professors and English professors make about $60,000 per year (more if you make tenure).
Editors do more than work on book-length manuscripts at publishing houses. Editors can work across industries—marketing, business, law, government, nonprofits, magazines and online publications, tech, and anywhere you might need to deal with language (i.e., everywhere). Expect to start out as a copy editor (also called a line editor) or research editor and move up to deal with editorial strategy as a whole. The salaries for editors vary depending on the industry and can range from $40,000 to $100,000+.
6. Public relations professional
Your ability to communicate clearly and gracefully deal with criticism can set you up well for a career in public relations. PR pros liaise between organizations and the media/public, craft messaging, and come up with ways to deal with the heat in crisis scenarios. In some organizations, PR overlaps, sometimes significantly, with communications jobs like the one mentioned above. An entry-level PR job can net you about $58,000, while those at the director level can expect to earn anywhere from $80,000 to well into the six figures.
Journalists can work for newspapers, magazines, online publications, broadcast news, podcasts, and radio stations—or you can set your own schedule and go freelance. Journalists pull down mid-$30,000 to $80,000 per year.
Columnists need to be an “expert” in something (or at the very least, a keen observer of)—it might be politics, social issues, film, books, feminism, wine, travel, or culture. If you hope to land a column, start a blog about your area of expertise to build a robust portfolio. Columnists make $40,000 to $70,000 per year.
I can’t think of many things better than spending your day among books. You’ll need a master’s degree in library science to be a librarian, but your degree in creative writing is a natural lead-in to such a program. Librarians make an average of $57,000 per year.
A degree in creative writing allows you to develop your writing, research and creative thinking skills. You’ll also gain skills that are useful in a range of other careers such as publishing, marketing, PR and teaching
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don’t restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Take a few minutes to answer the Job Match quiz and find out what careers would suit you
Building a portfolio of written work, especially any that you’ve had published, will help to evidence your writing skills and establish your reputation as a writer.
You can gain valuable experience by writing for your student newspaper or magazine, volunteering in schools, or getting involved with writers’ groups. Also, try submitting work to journals or anthologies, entering competitions, performing at spoken word events or approaching local drama groups to see if they will use your scripts. This will boost your profile and help build your confidence.
To make yourself more employable, look for opportunities to gain some solid work experience. This could be in the form of paid administrative work for a company or volunteering, perhaps with a local charity helping them to promote the work they do.
You could also write speculatively to a number of businesses, including publishing houses and marketing firms, to ask if you could complete some short-term work experience or shadowing. This can have the advantage of getting you a foot in the door in a highly-competitive industry and could lead to a permanent position.
As well as creative talent and writing experience, you will also need perseverance and determination to succeed as a writer.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Related case studies
As a creative writing graduate you may work to establish yourself as a writer on a self-employed basis, either writing your own works, or writing for others in a freelance capacity.
Alternatively, you could find opportunities with a variety of employers, including:
- publishing houses or editorial/technical writing service companies
- advertising, marketing and public relations agencies, particularly in a copywriting capacity
- primary, secondary, further and higher education institutions
- media organisations and social media companies
- general businesses – in an administrative or general management position
- Civil Service, library or charitable organisations.
Employers hiring creative writing graduates now
- CGP Books
Where will your words shine?
Publishing. Media. Theatre. Study MA Creative Writing. Hone your craft into a lifelong career
Skills for your CV
As well as building specialist knowledge of creative writing, you also develop effective written, oral and presentation skills through your degree. Other skills include:
- creative thinking and problem solving – these skills are useful for many jobs and you’ll have gained them from developing characters and storylines
- independent working – having to be self-motivated as a writer means you can effectively determine and direct your own workload
- time management and organisation – learning to structure your time effectively as a writer means you can be highly organised
- a good understanding of information technology
- collaboration – from liaising with students from other related courses such as journalism and film studies
- independent research and analysis – you’ll be adept at this from turning ideas into well-rounded stories
- editorial and proofreading – from producing accurately written content
- negotiation and networking – learning how to market your work effectively gives you the skill to negotiate in other workplace settings.
As a creative writing graduate you can develop your creative writing skills further by undertaking further study at Masters or PhD level. You can also specialise in an area such as screenwriting, the graphic novel, writing for young people, writing poetry, or writing and producing comedy.
Alternatively, you may want to undertake further vocational training in areas such as teaching, journalism, librarianship or publishing. Vocational courses allow you to study in an area in which you would like to have a career.
You may also want to consider further study in areas such as PR, marketing or advertising.
For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in creative writing.
What do creative writing graduates do?
A tenth (11%) of creative writing graduates who are in employment in the UK are working as authors, writers and translators, while 6% are working as marketing associate professionals.
|Working and studying||14.3|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Retail, catering and customer service||26.1|
|Arts, design and media||18.4|
|Clerical, secretarial and administrative||15|
|Marketing, PR and sales||10.2|
Find out what other creative writing graduates are doing 15 months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?