How to Become a Grant Writer


Although there is no one set path for becoming a grant writer, a very effective route for entering this profession is to follow these general steps:


1. Determine if your personality and professional interests are well-suited for grant writing

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in English, Journalism, Communications or a similar field

3. Find internship or volunteer-based grant writing work as a student

4. Get volunteer experience working with a non-profit organization in an operational capacity (marketing, management, etc.)

5. After graduation, apply for grant writing jobs in industries that interest you

6. Gain more responsibility and advance your career as you gain experience


Below, we've covered these steps in greater detail, as well as outlined what grant writers do, what career advancement opportunities are available to them, and job postings in your area!



What Education Will I Need to Become a Grant Writer?

There is no one set path for becoming a grant writer. However, since the two most important qualities of a grant writer are strong research and strong writing skills, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is English, journalism or communications serve as an excellent foundation. 


Other degrees are also applicable to this field however, such as marketing, and if the organization you will be working for does technical or scientific work, a degree in science or engineering would also be applicable.


Success Tip: To help you hone your writing skills into a more marketable product, and to learn some industry-specific skills such as grant researching techniques, try to pursue coursework specific to grant writing within or outside of your degree program.





What is a Grant Writer?

Grant writers are writing specialists that are responsible for providing advice on the identification and preparation of grant proposals, and developing or assisting in the development of program initiatives and funding applications. 


They are not only excellent researchers who can find funding sources, but also astute writers who know how to properly appeal to funding organizations.



What Does a Grant Writer Do?

Although the specific duties they perform can vary from job to job, grant writers are generally responsible for the following:


• Conducting extensive background research pertaining to the program of which funding is sought

• Translating concepts into clearly articulated writing

• Writing substantial amounts of the proposal based directly on research

• Facilitating the preparation of letters of intent and final applications for program grants

• Performing copy-editing and formatting functions

• Customizing scientific writing and technical presentations for target audiences using a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s mandates and regulations

• Working with teams of program staff to develop funding proposals and submissions to regional, federal and private sector granting and contributing agencies



What Experience Will I Need?

Experience as a Student

As you begin looking for grant writing jobs, you’ll notice that the majority of employers prefer to hire candidates with a year of experience under their belt. This can be a difficult ‘catch 22’ to navigate; how are you supposed to get work as a grant writer without ever having had work as a grant writer? The solution is simple; try to get volunteer or internship experience while you’re a student. Many charities and non-profits will gladly accept your help, provided they think you’re a good fit for their organization.


Success Tip: If you do well for an organization while working as a student, your chances of being hired on to a permanent or paid position after graduation will increase. At the very least, you should get a good recommendation that you can use for other employment opportunities.



Industry Experience

In addition to grant writing experience, many employers look for grant writers who have familiarity with the industry in which they will be preparing grant proposals for.


For example, healthcare organizations seek grant writers who understand the workings of the medical industry, which can be gained through professional or volunteer work. As another example, colleges and universities prefer grant writers with higher education industry experience. 


Success Tip: Having experience working with similar organizations in other capacities, such as in general fundraising or marketing, can also help boost your resume.





Is a Career as a Grant Writer a Good Career Choice for Me?

If you conduct an honest self-assessment and meet all of the criteria below, you may be well-suited for a career in grant writing:


• You have a keen interest in research and writing

• You have an interest in budgets and how organizations spend funds

• You’re willing to accept some measure of accountability for what you've written

• You enjoy having direction for your work

• You have tact, and the ability to keep sensitive information confidential 

• You have an interest in making connections and fostering relationships with donors and other foundations

• You enjoy the idea of working in a multi-disciplinary team composed of accountants, executives and other professionals 



Who Employs Grant Writers?

Grant writers can be hired on a part-time or full-time basis with a permanent or contractual structure, by employers that are eligible for public and private grant-based funding. For example, they may be employed by:


• Individuals

• Non-profit organizations (charities, community groups, religious organizations, etc.)

• Not-for-profit organizations (sports teams, thrift stores, etc.)

• Businesses and for-profit organizations 

• Colleges and universities 

• Research institutions 

• Virtually any other type of organization or individual that’s eligible for grant-based funding



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has a listing of "grant writer" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, when available:




Career Advancement Opportunities

If you display competence and initiative in your work, you should have a variety of career-advancement opportunities come your way, such as:


• Taking on more clients if self-employed

• Increases in pay and level of responsibility

• Moving into management positions within the organization, such as Head of Fund Development

• Moving into the for-profit sector into a marketing role



Similar Occupations

Listed below are occupations that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “grant writer”:


Business Development Officer

Development Associate

• Fundraiser

• NGO Area Coordinator

• Non-Profit Administrator

• Non-Profit Foundation Manager

• Technical Writer 



What Scholarships Are there for Aspiring Grant Writers? 

The “Applicable Majors” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a grant writer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for; there are MILLIONS of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Sources for This Career Guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


• Primary Articles: “Grant Writing: A Reality Check.” Carolyn M. Appleton (n.d.). Carolyn’s Non-Profit Blog. Retrieved December 19, 2019.

• Professions & Descriptions: “The Grant Writer Occupation.” (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2019.

• Articles: “How to Become a Grant Writer: Education and Career Roadmap.” (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2019.



Applicable Majors

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a grant writer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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