How to Become a Copywriter - Copywriter Career





Copywriters write ads and slogans that promote the sale of goods and services, and promote a positive image for their client or employer organization.


These marketing professionals can make a decent living, although it may take a while to find footing in this field, because although it is in high demand with the rise of online media, it is saturated with competition. You may have to work a second job, or an unpaid internship while you establish yourself in this field.


You might find success as a copywriter if you’re someone who appreciates a good jingle or a funny commercial more than most; someone who’s creative and can pump out work before a deadline; not the type of person that needs a ‘safe’ career, and someone who has the patience to build up a portfolio while they establish themselves.


If you’re interested in learning more about what it takes to become a copywriter, read on below! We’ve prepared an overview of what it takes to set the foundation for a career in this field. We’ve also included actual “Copywriter" job postings (where available), as well as a list of scholarships for helping you earn a degree in a field related to a career as a copywriter.



Education Needed to Become a Copywriter 

There are typically no formal education requirements for working in this field, although some advertising agencies and other employers may want to see that you’ve obtained some level of post-secondary training in a field related to writing, marketing or a closely related field, as these fields are most likely to help you develop the necessary skill set.





What is a Copywriter?

General job description


Copywriters are responsible for writing advertisements that promote the sale of goods and services, and promote a positive image for their client or employer organization. They may prepare advertisements for print, outdoor, online or broadcast media.



What Does a Copywriter Do?

Typical job duties


Although their duties can vary from job to job, copywriters are generally responsible for the following tasks:


• Working with account executives or clients in order to receive direction regarding how they would like their message to be conveyed

• Researching the product or service that is to be written about

• Developing effective ways to attract the attention of a target audience and influence consumer attitudes

• Presenting advertisement ideas to clients in order to gain their approval

• Maintaining awareness of client needs and objectives when preparing the advertisement

• Working closely with layout artists, graphic designers, illustrators, photographers and other creative professionals

• Editing and proofreading advertisements



Experience You’ll Need

In terms of developing the proper skill set and competencies for a career as a copywriter, work experience is largely seen as what will sell you to employers, or clients if you’re working as a freelancer or head of your own agency.


Employers and/or clients will want to see proof that you’re good at what you do, in order to reduce the risk they face when hiring you (hiring someone always comes with the risk that no amount of training or coaching will help them be good at the job they’re hired for).


Your best proof will come in the form of your portfolio, or ‘book’ as it’s known in the ad world, as well as from testimonials from former employers or clients.



How do you get work experience?

The ‘chicken and the egg’ problem

It can be tough to find jobs without having formal work experience and a portfolio to show off your work; so, how do you get work experience without having work experience? The best way is to help friends and family members that have projects you can work on for free, such as a small business that needs promotion.


Remember, it’s not about the money yet, it’s about getting experience, honing your skills, and more importantly, determining if you actually like the work!


You can also try getting experience as a copywriter by working as an intern, or even a volunteer, with an advertising agency.


Success Tip: Before diving into this career at all, listen to an ad in on the radio for a product or service you like. Now, see if you can write something better. If you’re determined to, then that’s a goof sign. If you succeed, that’s a better sign.





Is This Career Right For You?

You’re going to have to like working as a copywriter if you’re going to succeed at it. If it’s a chore to you, or you simply aren’t emotionally or intellectually invested into it, it’s not going to go well, and you’ll end up leaving the field pretty quickly. If the following traits describe you, then you might very well have what it takes to make it in this field:


• You're creative, witty, and good at pumping out well-written stories under a tight deadline

• You’re not the type that needs to pick a ‘safe’ career

• You believe in your abilities and are willing to work on getting work as a copywriter in your spare time while working a second job, for years if need be

• You’re the type that appreciates a good jingle or a funny commercial

• You’re okay with the idea that your work may not become a common household phrase, like “I’m lovin’ it”

• You are however, interested in the idea that your work will in fact be published, something creative writers strive for their whole career, and seen by many people

• You can accept the fact that despite the surge in demand for copywriters, there is also a surge in freelance copywriters and you will face a lot of competition for jobs and clients

• You respond well to failure and are persistent; you don’t expect the world to hand you trophies

• You’re able to sell the idea of working with you to employers and clients, through testimonials, your portfolio, and simply why people would want to work with you.



Who Employs Them?

Most copywriters work as freelancers, and with the rapid advancement of online marketing and the use of blogs as marketing tools, there is an unprecedented wave of opportunities for copywriters to compete for work.


However, they can also be hired as employees by advertising and marketing agencies, whose clients could be in any industry, in the non-profit, not-for-profit and for-profit worlds.


So, whether you work as a freelancer or as an employee, you might be writing advertising or promotional copy for the following types of organizations:


• Professional and amateur sports leagues and teams

• Religious organizations

• Schools, universities and colleges

• Community groups

• Government agencies

• Heavy industry, such as oil and gas, and mining

• Healthcare, medical and dental organizations

• Household goods manufacturers, distributors and retailers

• Restaurants, bars, hotels, catering companies and other food service companies

• Transportation companies

• Many, many other different types of organizations



Salary Level Typical to This Field

As with any other career field, the level of pay you could earn as a copywriter can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• The amount of work you get and the exposure it receives

• The size of the publishing house you write for

• The structure of your employment, such as if you are working on a freelance or permanent basis

• Your professional reputation and level of experience

• The niche you’ve chosen to specialize in, such as healthcare, household goods, etc.

• The demand for your services, based on testimonials, your portfolio, etc.

• The region in which you work

• Whether or not writing is your full-time profession (many copywriters work primarily in other professions, at least to start, and write advertising copy and other works on a 'part-time' basis)


Copywriter Salary - Canada (Alberta only): According to the 2015 Wage and Salary Survey of the Government of Alberta, the average salary level of Albertans working in the Advertising Copywriter occupational group is $58,979 per year. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, similar statistics were not available for other provinces or territories, or the whole of Canada.


Copywriter Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Writers & Authors occupational group is $61,820 per year.



Job Postings - Open Opportunities

Check our job board below to find Copywriter postings in your area.


Career Advancement Possibilities

As a copywriter, there are many opportunities for career growth. For example, if you’re working as a freelancer and enjoy doing so, your career could grow by charging higher rates, taking on more or bigger clients, or sub-contracting the work to other freelancers.


You could also choose to open your own advertising agency, and hire or contract copywriters to work for you. You could also choose to start a blog and write about writing on a part-time basis, which would help increase your authority in the world of copywriting and advertising, as well as possible help bring in extra income.


If you’re working for an advertising or marketing agency, your career advancement could come in the form of a higher salary, bigger accounts and more responsibility. You could also potentially move into a supervisory or management role.


Alternatively, you could shift gears entirely and apply your copywriting know-how to different fields and positions with different sets of responsibility. For example, if you become a director for a non-profit organization, your copywriting and marketing savvy would surely come in handy when trying to promote your organization, even if you delegate the work to others.



Similar Occupational Guides in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to this one, in that they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities.



• Content Developer

• Creative Writer

• Marketing Director

• Novelist

• Publisher

• Sales & Marketing Director 

• Technical Writer



Scholarships for Becoming a Copywriter

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below shows fields of study relevant to this profession. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to work in this field:


Wages and Salaries in Alberta: “Advertising Copywriter.” (n.d.). Government of Alberta - Alberta Learning and Information Service. Retrieved June 3, 2019.


Occupational Employment and Wages: “Writers and Authors.” (April 13, 2018). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2018.


Guardian Careers: “10 Tips for Being a Successful Copywriter.” Derryck Strachan. (December 5, 2013). The Guardian. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2018.


Career Development: “Learn What a Copywriter Does and How to Become One.” Rachel Deahl. (August 31, 2018). The Balance Careers. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2018.


Copywriting: “7 Steps to Becoming a Professional Copywriter.” Han-Gwon Lung. (July 27, 2017). Entrepreneur. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2018.



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming a copywriter. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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