Writers and authors
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Overview
Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for writers and authors are expected to grow by 8%, and should have about 14,600 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Writers and authors are less likely to be automated than 81% of other careers.
Workforce size
Writers and authors, with 131,200 workers, form a larger workforce than 71% of careers.
Education
About 84% of writers and authors have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by writers and authors
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More writers and authors have bachelor's degrees than 89% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for writers and authors is higher than 70% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most writers and authors.
This job's median $62KAll jobs' median $39K$63K$38K20142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 55% of writers and authors -- that's a larger percentage than 71% of other jobs.
Gender of writers and authors
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For writers and authors, the median men's salary was 12% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 13% of writers and authors are minority, and 8% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of writers and authors
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (8%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Writers and Authors per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 42% of writers and authors, and 56% have company-sponsored health insurance (19% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for writers and authors
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 83% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of writers and authors who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (69%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do writers and authors earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for writers and authors, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for writers and authors compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for writers and authors (BLS Salary Data)
$62K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$62K$0$50K$100K$150K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all writers and authors, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for writers and authors compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for writers and authors (ACS Salary Data)
$53K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$53K$0$50K$100K$150K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where writers and authors work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Writers and authors (ACS)
Private for-profit (46.0%)
Private not-for-profit (13.2%)
Local government (2.5%)
State government (4.7%)
Federal government (3.7%)
Self-employed incorporated (7.8%)
Self-employed not incorporated (21.9%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of writers and authors by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$53K$34K$58K$52K$86K$63K$57K$57K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of writers and authors by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$62K$100K$59K$62K$55K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for writers and authors

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$63K$61K$42K$52K$63K$62K$62K$61K$27K$0$50K$100K$150KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15K20K25KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Writers and authors and gender

With 55% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 71% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
55%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Writers and authors
Men (45%)
Women (55%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for writers and authors, with the median salary for men 12% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$51K$57K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Writers and authors have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 65% of other jobs.

12%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of writers and authors

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority writers and authors than for 79% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of writers and authors
White (86% )
Black (6% )
Asian (4% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Hispanic (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
8%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for writers and authors by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$46K$50K$53K$53K$54K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAmerican IndianMultiracialBlackAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for writers and authors by nativity
$51K$53K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by writers and authors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as writers and authors as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for writers and authors.

Education attained by writers and authors
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for writers and authors

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for writers and authors

Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.

Certification can also increase opportunities for advancement.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for writers and authors? Below we see the distribution of writers and authors salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as writers and authors, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$32K$42K$46K$53K$61K$64K$73K$0$50K$100K$150KHigh School (3%)Some College (9%)Associate's Degree (3%)Bachelor's Degree (54%)Master's Degree (23%)Professional Deg/Doct (3%)Doctorate (4%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by writers and authors

This table shows the college majors held by people working as writers and authors. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Writers and authors with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
10.2%
$0$200K$57K
6.9%
$0$200K$56K
3.6%
$0$200K$53K
3.3%
$0$200K$60K
2.9%
$0$200K$51K
2.1%
$0$200K$63K
2.0%
$0$200K$47K
1.9%
$0$200K$60K
1.8%
$0$200K$73K
1.7%
$0$200K$63K
1.5%
$0$200K$54K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as writers and authors, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by writers and authors given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Elementary and middle school teachersLawyers, judges, and magistratesPostsecondary teachersManagers (specialized areas)Secondary school teachersEducation administratorsSecretaries and administrative assistantsEditorsWriters and authorsMarketing and sales managersNews analysts, reporters and correspondentsPublic Relations SpecialistsProducers and directorsChief executives and legislatorsWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesCustomer service representativesHuman resources workersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersRetail salespersonsCounselorsSocial workersPsychologistsPhysicians and surgeonsManagement analystsFinancial managersDesignersTelevision, video, and motion picture camera operators and editorsAccountants and auditorsFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersPhotographersTechnical writersEnglish Language andLiteratureJournalismCommunicationsPsychologyPolitical Science andGovernmentHistoryMass MediaBusiness Management andAdministrationFilm Video andPhotographic ArtsComposition and RhetoricAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for writers and authors

What jobs will most writers and authors hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of writers and authors reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Writers and authorsManagers (specialized areas)News analysts, reporters and correspondentsEditorsTechnical writersManagement analystsMarketing and sales managersProducers and directorsElementary and middle school teachersEducation administrators
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for writers and authors

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as writers and authors as well as 1% of respondents after working as writers and authors. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for writers and authors
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Marketing and sales managers
57,800
$0$200K$74K
Education administrators
45,800
$0$200K$68K
Editors
12,800
$0$200K$53K
Technical writers
5,700
$0$200K$67K
News analysts, reporters and correspondents
4,500
$0$200K$50K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for writers and authors: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as writers and authors? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of writers and authors surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for writers and authors
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
1.2%
Accountants and auditors
143,000
$0$200K$60K
1.4%
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
1.6%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
4.2%
Marketing and sales managers
57,800
$0$200K$74K
1.2%
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
1.5%
Education administrators
45,800
$0$200K$68K
1.0%
Web developers
15,200
$0$200K$60K
1.2%
Writers and authors
14,600
$0$200K$53K
44.4%
Editors
12,800
$0$200K$53K
2.0%
Technical writers
5,700
$0$200K$67K
2.1%
News analysts, reporters and correspondents
4,500
$0$200K$50K
2.3%
No occupation
8.3%
Read about writers and authors
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Writers and authors typically do the following:

  • Choose subject matter that interests readers
  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
  • Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through clean prose, strong research, and the use of appropriate sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the clearest language and the most appropriate phrasing.

Some writers and authors are self-employed or freelance writers and authors. They sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. They may be hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization’s newsletter.

An increasing number of writers are producing material that is published only on the Internet, such as for digital news organizations or blogs.

The following are examples of types of writers and authors:

Copywriters prepare advertisements to promote the sale of a good or service. They often work with a client to produce written content, such as advertising themes, jingles, and slogans.

Content writers write about any topic of interest, unlike writers who usually specialize in a given field.

Biographers write a thorough account of a person’s life. They gather information from interviews and research about the person to accurately portray important events in that person's life.

Bloggers write posts to a blog that may pertain to any topic or a specific field, such as fashion, news, or sports.

Novelists write books of fiction, creating characters and plots that may be imaginary or based on real events.

Playwrights write scripts for theatrical productions. They come up with a concept, write lines for actors to say, produce stage direction for actors to follow, and suggest ideas for theatrical set design.

Screenwriters create scripts for movies and television. They may produce original stories, characters, and dialogue, or turn a book into a movie or television script.

Speechwriters write speeches for business leaders, politicians, and others who must speak in front of an audience. A speech is heard, not read, which means speechwriters must think about audience reaction and rhetorical effect.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of writers and authors? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Adaptability
Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to newer software platforms and programs, including various content management systems (CMS).
Creativity
Writers and authors must be able to develop new and interesting plots, characters, or ideas so they can come up with new stories.
Critical-thinking skills
Writers and authors must have dual expertise in thinking through or understanding new concepts, and conveying it through writing.
Determination
Writers and authors sometimes work on projects that take years to complete. They must demonstrate perseverance and personal drive to meet deadlines.
Persuasion
Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to persuade others to feel a certain way about a good or service.
Social perceptiveness
Writers and authors must understand how readers react to certain ideas in order to connect with their audience.
Writing skills
Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively in order to convey feeling and emotion and communicate with readers.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for writers and authors
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for writers and authors was higher than 70% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $62KAll jobs' median $39K$59K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for writers and authors are anticipated to grow by 8% over the next decade, which is faster growth than is predicted for 49% of other jobs.

The projected employment for writers and authors is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030050,000100,000150,000200,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most writers and authors? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as writers and authors. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Writers and Authors per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where writers and authors earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for writers and authors compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for writers and authors.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Writers and Authors to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which writers and authors earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Writers and authors (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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