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Jenifer asks, "I have recently gotten back into college and am trying to figure out the right type of degree to pursue. I am very interested in writing/literature. I don't even know where to begin or the steps to take as far a obtaining a career in writing. Working for a magazine or book company would be a dream. My main concerns are salary and demand. Could you explain some of this to me? What branch of writing earns the most and also how easy is it to actually get hired or make money? I enjoy reading as well as writing and all of the choices (editing, freelance, etc) seem interesting.Could you also explain the procedure as to what type of degree and also internships? I have also considered getting a teaching degree and minoring in journalism and doing writing part time. As you can see I have no idea about most of this. Any information is appreciated.
Professional writing is usually developed in one of three departments. English, Journalism, or Communications. So make sure you get into one of these to start with. It would be good to join any of the campus publications and do as much writing, editing, copy editing that you can. Get a good, rounded education and be curious about a lot of subjects.
Salary in writing depends a lot in the area you live in. Generally, the salaries for entry-level writing are below average for other professions. Yet, there is a lot of competition for entry-level jobs on magazines or book publishers. Even an editor at a decent magazine will make no more than a high school teacher. So, it is something that you need to really have a passion about.
The highest end of salaries for writers is in corporate communications. Not always is that the case. It's not a hard and fast rule but generally, business pays more for writers. Small newspapers pay the least. A staff writer on a high circulation magazine can be paid pretty well. Copywriting, which is writing for advertising, can potentially produce a higher salary.
In all of these cases a person has to start at the bottom and then move up the scale every three years, every five years and so on.
The best thing to do is to figure out what your goal is. Is it to have a job that you are passionate about, such as being an editor at a fashionable magazine? Or, is it to make the most money you can? When you think about these goals it helps guide you to more resource that can be useful.
Internships are excellent as a way to get a foot in the door. Inquire at your school and at any and all local media outlets; publishing, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio. Check them all out and see what kind of internships they have.
If you are more interested in a literary, writing career then you have to decide whether to get an income producing career and write as you can. It's not impossible to have a literary writing career but it's difficult because there's no immediate demand for your services. The literary writer has to create that demand, with the help of publishers. It's very difficult. And many literary writers teach, so that's an option.
On the Sunoasis Career Development page there are links to a good many resources. Use those and check the resources at your college as well. Make your career goals known to your professors and, again, try to write as much as you can on school publications. Nurture your talents and think of yourself as a writer.
Good luck in your pursuits Jenifer! If you have any more questions just ask.
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