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How to Become a Copywriter: Education, Salary & Job Outlook

Learn how to become a copywriter

Have you always enjoyed writing, and want a steady, reliable career that can bring a consistent income? If you want to build your writing chops without having to sacrifice your lifestyle, you may want to complete copywriting course, learn copywriting, and become a copywriter.

With light requirements for both education and experience, this could be the best career for aspiring writers, authors, novelists, and anyone interested in the writing profession. It can be a career on its own, or can serve as a launch pad to other careers in writing.

In this article, we’ll give you a complete understanding of the professional copywriter. Below, you’ll find answers to a variety of questions, including:

How to Become a Copywriter: Step by Step

If you want to know how to become a copywriter or how to get into copywriting, you’ll need to follow these simple steps…

  1. Complete a copywriting degree or certificate
  2. Complete a copywriting internship
  3. Develop your copywriter skills through continual writing
  4. Create a copywriter portfolio
  5. Find a job as a professional copywriter
  6. Continue to enhance your copywriter qualifications for future positions

What Does a Copywriter Do?

Copywriting is simply the act of writing persuasive marketing material. Good copywriting motivates people to take action, buy a product, sign up for a service, donate to a charity, click on a link, or schedule a visit with a professional; the list goes on and on.

Materials and content created by copywriters can fill many different categories, and this type of writing often seeps into other forms. Materials created by copywriters can include emails for marketing campaigns, scripts for videos, headers for a website link, or content for a business’s website. These materials are obviously made for advertising and marketing purposes, so they easily fit the description of “copywriting.”

Copywriters, therefore, are the people who create this written material. They understand how to write persuasive sentences, paragraphs, and titles that motivate people to take a specific action.

What does a copywriter do? A professional copywriter may create a variety of materials throughout their career, including:

  • Catalogs
  • Fundraising letters
  • Webpages
  • Sales emails
  • Product or service descriptions
  • Press releases
  • Newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Blog articles

This is just a small list of the dozens, possibly hundreds of different types of copywriting.

Copywriting vs Content Writing?

Although they are similar, and organizations have varied definitions, copywriting and content writing are different. In most cases, content writing is considered a type of copywriting. Content writing is, according to most, material that is created by businesses and organizations that is not intended to sell, at least not directly.

Blog content for businesses is considered a type of content writing. Businesses may hire a writer to create blog articles that build the brand, inform readers, and create an online reputation as the expert in a given field. White papers, newsletters, and press releases, unless created to directly generate sales, are usually considered content writing. When you are becoming a copywriter, you’ll want to understand the differences and develop your copywriting skills accordingly.

As you can see, there are many different copywriter skills, which means you need to understand how to become a copywriter, including the all-important copywriter education.

Copywriter Education Requirements

If you are wondering how to become a copywriter, your first question will likely be about education. One of the top benefits to becoming a copywriter is that there are no official copywriter education requirements, at least none set by states or the federal government. Although different companies may require certain levels of education, if you have the skills to create good copy, you can start building your copywriting portfolio at any time. That said, there are typical educations for most people who want to earn a copywriter salary.

Do I Need a Copywriting Degree?

What is the typical copywriter education? There are many different information sources for writers in general, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is likely the most comprehensive and detailed. However, they only provide information on “writers and authors,” not copywriters specifically.

However, they say that a typical writer or author has at least a bachelor’s degree bachelor in a field that will develop their writing and communication skills. Degrees in English, communication, and journalism are very common for copywriters. Some of these programs may even offer specific copywriting courses.

These degrees generally take four years of study. Depending on what major you complete, you’ll develop skills in research, proper grammar and punctuation, sentence structure, and editing. In communication studies, for example, you’ll learn skills that help you properly and effectively deliver a message to an audience, which is among the most important copywriter skills.

Because the educational requirements are fairly light for many positions, you may be able to land jobs with only a two-year associate’s degree or even a copywriting certificate in writing or communication. This provides a fast-track to an entry level copywriter salary, although you may need more education to develop your copywriter skills. That said, if you want to become a copywriter quickly, a two-year degree or copywriting certificate is a fine choice.

It’s also possible to continue your copywriting education beyond a bachelor’s degree. If you want to advance your copywriting skills and become a more effective advertiser or writer, you could complete a master’s degree, which generally takes about two years to complete. This education could help you advance into leadership and management roles, although when working in this type of copywriting career you likely won’t do any actual copywriting but instead guide a team of writers.

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It’s also possible to continue your copywriting education beyond a bachelor’s degree. If you want to advance your copywriting skills and become a more effective advertiser or writer, you could complete a master’s degree, which generally takes about two years to complete. This education could help you advance into leadership and management roles, although when working in this type of copywriting career you likely won’t do any actual copywriting but instead guide a team of writers.

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Learn Copywriting Online

Copywriter skills can be developed online, and there are many excellent institutions offering degrees and certificates for aspiring copywriters. Learning copywriting can be done online, which helps fit an education into your busy schedule and active lifestyle. Although the cost will vary, online copywriter education is often an affordable option for people on a budget.

Copywriter education requirements are fairly loose and diverse. With only a four-year degree (or less), you can work in one of these engaging and interesting jobs.

Copywriter Qualifications: Certification & Licensing

Copywriter requirements are usually easy to fulfill, and unlike other professions, there are usually no certification requirements or licensing needs for this position. Learning copywriting is generally fast and easy, and you rarely need to meet licensing or certification requirements.

Licensing is never required for this career. Unlike doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, and other types of professions, you don’t need to complete a licensing program that is issued by the state or the federal government. If you meet the basic copywriter requirements and have the appropriate copywriter skills, you can work in this profession.

Certification, however, can help advance your career. Certification is offered by a wide variety of organizations and can help you attract better clients or land high-paying positions. Many certifications are offered for specific types of writing. For example, grant writing certificates can be completed through the American Grant Writers’ Association.

How to Build Copywriting Experience & Launch a Career

To become a copywriter, you need the right background, which, as we discussed above, often includes a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, creative writing, or communication. Writers of all varieties also need writing experience, which may not pay well at the beginning (if it pays at all) but brings valuable knowledge of the writing and composition process.

Many have copywriting experience working for local and school newspapers, or even experience writing for their college newspapers. These positions rarely pay large wages, but they do help you build a copywriting portfolio that can land more lucrative positions.

Different Types of Copywriting

Who hires copywriters? There are many different types of organizations that hire these professionals, which means there are many different types of copywriting. Some copywriters focus on one or two specific types, while others may write a wide variety of different copywriting.

Direct, physical mail (snail mail), for example, is a type of copywriting. You be annoyed when you have marketing materials in your mailbox, but this form of advertising remains one of the most effective tools for advertisers. (Which is why you get so much.) Knowing how to catch people’s attention before they toss out the mail is an important tool for copywriters working in this space. Email is another form, which has a similar quality but calls for a slightly different skill set.

Press releases could be considered content writing, but they are an important marketing tool for companies that need to release information on their products, services, or company in general.

In copywriting, part of the challenge is delivering a message to consumers where they are. In the current marketing environment, this means social media. When writing for social media, subtly, cleverness, and a friendly interaction are all important.

There are many types, styles, and categories of copywriting, and understanding the differences is essential if you want to be a success in this interesting and engaging field. But you not only have a choice for what type of copywriting you create, you also have a choice for how you work…

In-House, Agency, or Freelance?

In general, there are three options for copywriters. The copywriter definition may depend on which type you select. You can either work directly for a company, you can work for a marketing agency, or you can become an independent freelancer working in the modern “gig economy.”

To help you understand the differences, let’s assume there is a company called XYZ Auto Sales. This company needs a wide variety of copywriting, including direct mailers, emails, blog content, and website product descriptions. The copywriter job description will vary depending on whether you are in-house, working for an agency, or freelancing to earn your copywriter salary.

In-House Writer

As an in-house writer, you are employed by the company that is selling the specific product or service. For our example, this means you are an employee of XYZ Auto Sales, working either in their office location or (increasingly) from a remote location. You are a full-fledge employee working “in-house” for the company.

Agency Writer

Many companies don’t need a full time or even part time copywriter. Instead, they may hire a marketing agency to create their content. As an agency writer, you are an employee of this agency. XYZ Auto Sales would sign a contract with the marketing agency, then you would go to work creating their marketing materials. Working as an agency writer, you can likely gain copywriting tips from established professionals.

Freelance Copywriter

If you want more independence and greater control of your career, and don’t mind the ups and downs of self-employed work, then a career as a freelance copywriter would be a great choice. Instead of hiring an agency for a full slew of materials, companies may hire individual freelancers to create a single press release, write a few webpages, or provide wording for an email campaign. There are many freelance copywriting jobs available, and they can range from single assignments to long-term work.

How to Get Into Copywriting?

If you are wondering how to get a job as a copywriter, the first step will be either an entry level copywriter position or a copywriting internship. These two options may not pay a large salary, but they help build on your writing, communication, or copywriting degree while you learn copywriting in a professional setting. If you want to know how to get a job as a copywriter, internships and other entry level positions can deliver the experience and knowledge you need.

Pros & Cons of Working as a Copywriter

This profession brings many benefits. Foremost, this is a career that allows you to use your creativity. If you like to write and are generally a creative person, you will find this job to be enjoyable and rewarding. It’s also flexible, as you have options not only for how you work but the types of copy you write. You may focus your career on a specific industry, a certain type of writing, or work as a freelancer or an in-house writer for a major company. This is also a career that is attainable with a light education (no master’s or doctorate required) and little experience needed to enter most positions.

But there are certainly disadvantages. For one, the career is not expected to see massive growth. There will certainly be shifts in how copywriters are hired, but this is not expected to be a career that sees massive growth, at least for total jobs. It can also become monotonous. If you are writing copy for the same company over and over again, it’s easy to experience mental fatigue. For this reason, many copywriters also participate in content writing or choose a variety of assignments to increase daily variety.

Copywriter Salary

If you want to become a copywriter, you’ll obviously want to understand the copywriter salary and potential lifetime earnings for a copywriting career. There are a variety of sources for annual salaries, but the BLS says that “writers and authors” have a median annual salary of $67,120. The highest 10% in this field can expect salaries over $133,460.

But this information covers writers of all types, including novelists, screenwriters, and speechwriters. Glassdoor, which provides more focused information, says that the average base pay for a copywriter (as of writing this article) is $57,304 a year. Information from PayScale shows similar earnings. Their data tells us that copywriters have an average base salary of $53,154.

Overall, it seems that by getting into copywriting, you can earn a strong copywriting salary, although you may not have the massive career earnings of other professions. However, with a light education requirement and little experience needed for copywriting internships, earning an entry level copywriter salary is a strong career choice.

Regardless of copywriter salaries, you need to know if there will be positions available. The copywriter job outlook is not strong, but there should be plenty of positions for those willing to go for them. According to the BLS, the career of authors and writers will decline by 2%. However, there will still be roughly 128,000 jobs, so options will be available. Writers skilled in online writing and social media will have a particular advantage in the coming years. So while the overall copywriter job outlook is stagnant, tech-savvy writers will likely have options available.

Launch Your Career Today!

You can become a copywriter when you enroll in a world-class online writing or communication program. From English to journalism, from certificates to master’s degrees, we have the information you need to make the right choice for your online education!

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