Careers involving writing
Many jobs involve writing to some extent, but if you want it to be a major part of your career read on for our round-up of eight professions you could consider. Some of these careers focus purely on writing; others include a substantial amount alongside other tasks or are about close involvement with other people’s writing to improve it or ensure it is profitable.
Some of these are harder to get into and make money from than others, so you might want to consider having one as a day job and doing another in your free time.
Journalists need to write about factual matters in an accurate but engaging way. It’s a good career for people who are curious about the world around them and want to find out new information, then share this with others. Print and online journalists communicate purely via the written word; broadcast journalists combine writing (such as creating scripts) with the spoken word.
There are lots of different types of editor. Editors of newspapers, magazines or websites are senior figures who oversee content decisions – on news-focused products they are typically experienced journalists. Copy-editors ensure that written materials are clearly written and error-free; commissioning editors help publishing companies to make money by deciding which products to publish and doing deals with the authors who will write them. Some editors also write content of their own from scratch – this is more common if you work on magazines or websites than if your employer produces books or academic materials.
Novelists write all sorts of fiction, from children’s stories to sci-fi. You don’t need any particular qualifications, but competition to get published is fierce, so you’d better have some great ideas and be good at turning them into page-turning tales. A note of caution – most novelists need another source of income too, so investigate other careers that you might be able to combine with your creative writing.
Playwrights write new stage plays or adapt existing works such as novels or short stories. Like being a novelist, it’s high on creativity and the quality of your work matters more than qualifications. But again, there’s intense competition and even if theatre companies want to pay for your plays and perform them, you’ll probably need another job too to make ends meet.
- Find out more about what playwriting careers involve, how to succeed and other jobs you could consider combining them with.
Love a great story but more into film and TV drama than novels or theatre? Screenwriters write the scripts for these, then rework them under the guidance of script editors. Again, many would-be screenwriters don’t succeed in getting paid work, and don’t expect a reliable income even if you do. However, you might decide that the chance to get your work seen by millions of viewers is worth it.
PR/marketing content writer or copywriter
Marketing or PR content writers and copywriters write copy that helps organisations to promote themselves, their products or their services. This could be relatively straightforward, such as content for an organisation’s own website, or more subtle, such as an article or press release that relates to the organisation but doesn’t explicitly promote it. Some are self-employed and others have permanent jobs. Sometimes writing is part of a wider PR or marketing job that includes other responsibilities too. It’s a good option if you want to write for a living and use some creativity but would like a more reliable source of income than some of the above careers offer.
- Read more about careers as a content writer or copywriter and find out about marketing and PR careers more broadly.
Solicitors are legal professionals who work directly with clients and provide advice and services to them. Clients can be anyone from a member of the public who is making a will or getting divorced to an international business that wants to buy one of its competitors. Part of the job involves writing legal documents such as witness statements, pleadings (documents submitted to court in advance of a case) and letters to clients. They also draft contracts (which involves a mixture of writing and selecting ‘stock’ clauses from a database) and write articles for their firm’s website or the legal press.
It’s by no means a purely writing-focused job, and the writing that solicitors do do definitely isn’t creative. However, it might suit you if you have an analytical mind and take pride in being able to write in a clear, precise, unambiguous manner. What’s more, some areas of law are very well paid, though these do tend to come with correspondingly long hours.
Barristers are also legal professionals but have a different role to solicitors. They provide specialist advice on points of law to solicitors, and stand up in court to advocate (make arguments) on clients’ behalf – though solicitors sometimes do this too. Usually clients go to a solicitor in the first instance, and the solicitor will then hire a barrister if needed. An important part of a barrister’s job is providing written advice to solicitors; like solicitors, they can also write pleadings.
Again, writing isn’t the only part of a barrister’s job, and the writing you do won’t be creative. However, if you are good at coming up with novel solutions to problems or seeing a situation from multiple perspectives this will be helpful when you have to put together a case or deal with arguments or evidence that the opposing legal team throw at you.
Becoming a barrister is very competitive and you’ll need to be an academic high-flyer. Most barristers are self-employed but work together in organisations known as chambers, so you won’t be on your own in terms of finding work. Some areas of law (such as crime) are very badly paid in the first few years; others (such as commercial law) are very well paid right from the start.