Career Choice: Copywriter

Career Choice: Copywriter
  • Opening Intro -

    That ad you just saw on the television or the Internet was first conceived by a writing team, perhaps by an individual copywriter.

    That individual is tasked with writing advertising copy in a bid to move goods or services.


The person holding that position may also be known as an account executive, an advertising associate or even a web content writer. Such professionals have a way with words, and are able to take the mundane, polish it and make it interesting, even persuasive.


Today’s copy writers may work for an advertising company or just as easily be self-employed. Such professionals may work on an assignment and when done move on to the next one. Original and interesting content is key and can include ad copy, articles, web content or other wordsmith endeavors. Copy writers may write magazine articles, scripts, songs, books and even movies.


Copy writers number approximately 150,000 individuals and typically have completed college, earning a bachelor’s degree before seeking employment. Copy writers usually will manage several projects simultaneously and may work for multiple clients concurrently. These professionals possess superior writing skills and may have a degree in English, journalism or communications. While in college, copy writers will often work for the institute’s newspaper or website, and may have completed internships with a newspaper, a radio station, web service or other publication. Experience in conducting interviews, completing research and writing stories is important.


The median average salary for copy writers was $55,900 as of 2011 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those professionals in the 10th percentile averaged $28,200 per year, while those in the 25th percentile earned $39,600 per year on average. Copy writers in the 75th percentile earned $79,000 per year on average, while those at the top of the pay scale — the 90th percentile — earned $115,700 per year on average.

Wages for copy writers in Washington, DC, were the highest among states, districts and territories, with an average annual wage of $87,100 earned per year as of 2011 reports the BLS. New York was the state where salaries averaged the highest in the nation, coming in at $72,200 per year. Maryland, Washington and California followed with salaries averaging more than $65,000 per year.

On the opposite end of the pay scale, salaries in North Dakota averaged $28,200 per year, matching the 10th percentile nationally. Copy writers in West Virginia and Montana also earned below $30,000 per year for the lowest wage averages in the nation according to the BLS.

Job Outlook

The BLS forecasts a six percent growth rate for copy writers, authors and other writers from 2010 to 2020. That rate is about half the average growth rate projected for all jobs over that span. The industry continues to shift from print to online publications and includes books now sold as e-books. Still, for the intrepid writer seeking to find a place in the industry, assignments will become available as established writers retire or move on to other fields. Copy writers demonstrating the greatest career flexibility may also have more opportunities.


O*Net OnLine: 27-3043.04 – Copy Writers

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Writers and Authors

See AlsoBest Career Paths For College Students


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Categories: Career Planning