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COPYWRITERS write the words used in advertisements for newspapers, radio, television, magazines, and other media. Copywriters may also write publicity releases, promotional or informational booklets, sales promotion materials, or they may work on merchandising campaigns. They sometimes write radio and television commercials or trade journal articles about products or services. At times Copywriters may be called upon to edit or rewrite existing copy. Copywriters may be assigned to a variety of accounts and must be versatile enough to adjust to each new product and medium and to vary the language and tone of each message.

Agency Copywriters may also work on annual reports, sales brochures, point- of-purchase materials, instruction manuals and press releases. Some broadcasting stations employ Copywriters to prepare advertising material and station announcements. No matter the size of the operation, Copywriters must be knowledgeable about copy writing, art and layout, space and time buying and selling copy.

In small firms, Copywriters may help co-workers fulfill these functions. The duties are varied and require thorough knowledge of the agency's operations.


Most Copywriters in large metropolitan areas are employed by retail stores or advertising agencies in advertising departments of firms in related industries. Copywriting, although a creative endeavor, is performed for business under sometimes unrelenting conditions. Crises are typical of advertising production, and pressure is a condition of the job. In retail trade, the Copywriter works barely ahead of consecutive release dates, so that deadlines occur daily. Last minute revisions are routine, with evening or weekend work required at times.

As in all desirable fields, beginning opportunities in advertising are extremely limited, but the search for top creative talent is never ending. Many openings are with advertisers (including department stores, health care plans, among others), advertising agencies, media, public relations, and professional and trade associations. Advertising and public relations agencies are also sources for new jobs. The field, however, is highly competitive.


The average wage for Copywriters is about $40,000 per year. Assistant Copywriters earn from $27,000 to $35,000 per year. Senior Copywriters can earn $100,000 per year or more. Agency Copy Chiefs can earn up to $125,000 annually. Creative Directors, who supervise the art as well as copy work and who are responsible for the entire process, earn up to $200,000 a year.

Although the normal workweek is 40 hours, there is considerable overtime. Compensation for overtime is at time and a half the regular rate. Peak hours of work in department stores occur most frequently before holiday seasons, and in advertising agencies during advertising campaigns.

Profit-sharing plans are becoming increasingly popular in advertising firms. Most employers offer paid holidays and vacations, retirement benefits, participation in medical, group life insurance, and hospitalization plans.


Copywriters should be skilled in visually roughing out ideas and in developing notable copy. In addition, Copywriters should possess a working knowledge of typography and layout.

Copywriting experience is preferred, particularly in the specialty of the job opening. Advertising agencies usually hire only those with three to five years' experience with an agency of comparable size, and sometimes require specialized experience in such diverse areas as automobiles and confectionery. Retail stores require experience in writing advertising copy for merchandise such as furniture, appliances, or women's fashions. Copywriting positions generally require a college degree. A combination of liberal arts and appropriate business courses provide a good educational base. Some colleges offer degrees in communications; these programs may include training in writing copy. Special courses in copywriting and creative writing are useful, as is familiarity with word processing equipment.

It is important to supplement formal education with actual writing experience. Writing for school and community publications is one way to gain this experience. Writing news releases or advertisements for school or community projects are other ways to gain experience. Well-written essays and other academic assignments can also be presented as examples of ability. Advertising agencies that hire inexperienced workers prefer college graduates.


In a large department store there are several avenues of promotion open to the Copywriter. The first step may be Copy Chief or Fashion Coordinator. Next up the scale is a division manager of fashions or home furnishings, and ultimately, head of the advertising department. An agency Copywriter may advance to Copy Supervisor and then to Copy Chief. Some become Account Executives. A promotion may be characterized merely by assignment to more important accounts, or by a salary increase. A Copywriter with a high degree of creative and administrative talent can aspire to head up an agency.


Opportunities for the inexperienced worker in retail copywriting appear better in the outlying areas than in metropolitan centers. Employment in a small broadcasting studio is another possibility. Some newspapers hire beginning Copywriters to work in classified advertising. Most Copywriters find jobs on their own. Contact sources are the various trade publications for job openings and news of account acquisitions, which sometimes signify agency expansion. Application is usually made to the advertising department rather than the employment office. It is acceptable to write a letter requesting an appointment for an interview, and to enclose a resume of education, work experience, and personal data, which should not exceed two pages. If the applicant is granted a personal interview, a portfolio of the creative writing which may include short stories or clippings from a college paper should be presented. Good contacts are established by joining the Junior and Senior Advertising Clubs and attending their meetings.

Source: State of California, Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916) 262-2162.

If you have any questions about careers in copywriting don't hesitate to ask!

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David Eide
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Copywriting from About.com

How to become an Ad Copywriter by John Kuraoka

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David Eide
copyright 2000-2016