Is a college degree necessary to become a full-time writer?

another guest post on #wwbb

Lauren Bailey

It’s the age-old question of whether
institutionalized credit trumps raw talent. Before you begin chomping at the
bit to defend either direction, I have to come clean and say that there are
opportunities for writers of all education backgrounds, which makes the title a
bit of a trick question.

The first step to understanding the
world of full-time writing is to broaden your perception of what a full-time
writer does. There are many different occupations that demand writing, but most
of my fellow creative writing majors have landed jobs in other sectors – like
finance and education. Being a full-time writer means being a full-time
thinker. Some people, even passionate and talented people, find that writing
full-time is more of a burden than a joy.

It’s true that the intellectual and
creative demands of being a full-time writer are sometimes exhausting; and no
matter what anyone tells you, being a writer is full of rejection and
disappointment. For most of us; however, writing is as natural as breathing,
and when things go awry, it’s just part of the job and part of life.
Anyone who wishes to become employed by
a major corporation will need an undergraduate degree. The market for writers
is extremely competitive. A degree in English literature, technical writing,
journalism, creative writing or PR is a good place to begin. For those who wish
to publish as freelancers or as book authors, the market is less about
credentials and more about writing samples.

Common jobs for writers

Authors –
Writers of fiction and non-fiction alike
have come from various backgrounds and levels of education. Authors are
artists, plain and simple; but the disadvantage to being a book author is that
the art must also be marketable in order to become a full-time job. Alas, you
have to be a real literary genius to pull off anything completely avant-garde
these days.

Participating in workshops that are
offered in creative writing programs will expose beginning authors to the basics
of proofreading, editing and writing on a deadline. Although it can be stifling
at times, a creative writing emphasis can usher budding writers into the first
stages of publishing, and it is, as the name suggests, the most liberal of
education in terms of creativity.

Good journalists have highly analytical
minds and a natural ability to restructure information. Though sometimes the
job can be a bit dull – there is a ton of research and sleuthing involved – it
can also be controversial and fast-paced. Unlike book authors, journalists work
with other writers and benefit from the mentorship of an editor.
Community-minded individuals may be better suited for a journalism career
rather than a solitary life as an author.

Manager —
Corporations across the nation are
looking for public relations managers who can mitigate damage in crisis
situations and serve as connecting points for media campaigns. The day-to-day
life of a PR manager is full of press-releases, both writing and reading; but it
may also include managing public statements and organizing events. Highly
social writers and all-around great communicators would enjoy this job. Oh, you
also have to be extremely business minded. Some elements of PR can be a bit
nasty, especially when smoothing over a company’s mistakes. Mitigating damage
in crisis situations can be extremely stressful and demanding, making this job
perfect for the adrenaline junkie.

Writers –
Another business-minded job, marketing
writers are those who work well under direction or with a specific goal in
mind. Often, writing is a bit of an open-ended venture; but for the copy
writer, the message needs to be succinct and clear while also being cleverly
cloaked. It’s a tricky business, but like the journalist, a copy writer is a
part of a larger team that works under a creative director.

Writers –
In the dawn of the Internet age, the
position of content writer has cropped up in major cities. Content writers
write articles for Websites and blogs. The job is a unique merging of
journalism and marketing; as the content is researched and independent, yet
affiliated with the host site.

Wait…there’s more.

Education is essential to capturing the
attention of a major corporation, but more important than a college degree is
an outstanding portfolio. The first step to becoming a full-time writer is
producing large volumes of work – whether through freelance articles to your
local newspaper or your indie blog. The more you write, and the more you get
rejected, the better you will become.

If you are interested in learning more
about writing,
taking a free online course
before you enroll in any major.

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger for She
loves writing about education, writing, and health. As an education writer, she
works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses.
She welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99

Anything you want to say about this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.