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Article: Writing Careers


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Author
  • Magazine Journalist
  • Newspaper Journalist
  • Scriptwriter
  • Technical Author
  • Translator.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Video: - Various: Writing Careers

Some of the careers in this area


Authors write fiction, such as novels, or non-fiction such as textbooks. They must have a good understanding of language, sentence structure and grammar, as well as the ability to write creatively and with imagination.

Some authors try different types of writing before they decide to concentrate on a certain area. For example, within adult fiction, it's possible to specialise in writing such as romance, crime, science fiction and historical fiction.

All authors have to make sure that references, quotations, geographical locations and historical settings are accurate. They need to do a lot of research beforehand.

Very few authors earn a living entirely from writing. For most authors, it's a part-time activity. It's often difficult to gain acceptance by editors in publishing firms, or by a literary agent who will help an author sell work to a publisher. Editors or agents receive so many manuscripts that they reject most of them.

There is no set route to enter a career as an author. It's often useful to join writers' clubs, attend evening classes in creative writing, take part in literary workshops or enter writing/short story competitions.

You can also study creative writing at degree and postgraduate level.

Newspaper Journalist

Newspaper journalists work as reporters on local, regional or national newspapers. They collect information, investigate stories and events, and write articles.

They collect background information by using personal contacts, libraries and the internet. They gain an insight into events by interviewing people. They need to work to tight deadlines.

Entry to this career is highly competitive and most entrants are graduates. Nearly all journalists start work on local papers before they can move to the national press.

Technical Author

Technical authors write documents on engineering, ICT, scientific and other technical subjects.

They work on a variety of materials, including user guides, websites, reference manuals, e-learning resources, podcasts, online help notes and sales brochures.

To do their work, they look at relevant documents and talk to people who work in the area they are writing about.

Often, they have to visualise equipment and products. This is because the goods haven't been made by the time they need to start writing.

Where equipment or products are available, the technical author inspects them to understand how they work.

Most technical authors have a degree in a subject that is relevant to the area they are writing about. Many also have technical writing training.

Advertising Copywriter

Advertising copywriters write the wording of advertisements (ads), which can take the form of online ads, newspaper or magazine ads, brochures and posters, or internet, TV and radio ads.

The client provides a brief, about the product and the target audience. Copywriters need to understand who the ad is aimed at, so they can develop ideas to attract their attention. They work closely with an art director in a creative team.

A selection of ideas is presented to the client. Once an idea has been chosen, the copywriter writes the full text, which is known as 'body copy'. Copywriters must be able to write creatively and persuasively in a variety of styles. They must be able to accept criticism and cope with having their work rejected or changed.

There is strong competition for jobs in advertising. To become a copywriter, you are likely to need a degree or HND.

Magazine Journalist

Magazine journalists work on a wide range of magazines. These include business, technical, professional and consumer/lifestyle magazines. They write news and features and might also edit copy.

Journalists often specialise in a particular area, such as fashion, and have to keep up to date with trends and developments in this area. They usually do a lot of research before they write their articles.

Some journalists work freelance using their specialist knowledge to write features for a number of magazines.

All journalists need good English and writing style, and the ability to conform to a house style.

Competition for entry to this work is tough and most entrants are graduates.


Translators convert written text from one language to another. They make sure that they keep the style and meaning of the original text.

Translators usually specialise in a particular subject, such as medicine, law or engineering, and build up the vocabulary they need.

Most have a degree in modern languages; there are also courses that combine translation studies with one or more languages. Postgraduate training in translation is useful.


Scriptwriters write material for performers to speak. Material ranges from comedy and light entertainment to serious drama and documentary. Scriptwriters write for film, television or radio.

They work on materials such as complete plays, episodes for long-running series and sketches for comedy shows.

Established scriptwriters work largely on commissions from producers and follow a brief that sets out the length of performance, characters, situation and so on.

If they want to work on an original idea, they first need to find out what kind of material will interest producers and commissioning editors.

There are no set entry requirements. Courses in scriptwriting, and relevant subjects such as creative writing, are available. However, the most important factors for entry are your writing abilities, creativity and ability to understand your audience.

Further Information

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ)

Tel: 020 78433700



BBC Careers


National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)



Professional Publishers Association (PPA)



Advertising Association (AA)

Address: 7th Floor North, Artillery House, 11-19 Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RT

Tel: 020 7340 1100



Writers & Artists

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc



Women In Publishing (WiP)


Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC)



Writers Bureau



The Script Factory



Writers' Guild of Great Britain

Tel: 020 7833 0777



Soho Theatre



Scottish Book Trust

Scottish enquiries

Address: Sandeman House, Trunk's Close, 55 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

Tel: 0131 5240160



BBC Writersroom



Publisher: Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators



Wales Online (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: WalesOnline, Media Wales, Six Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR


Welsh Books Council (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: Castell Brychan, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2JB

Tel: 01970 624151



Ffilm Cymru Wales (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: S4C Media Centre, Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff, UK, CF14 5DU

Tel: 029 2076 6931



Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

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