Copywriters are responsible for writing words for advertisements. The advertisements may appear in newspapers, radio, television, magazines, or other types of media. They may write articles in trade journals about products or services within that industry. They may compose publicity releases, promotional or informational booklets, sales promotion materials. They sometimes work as part of a team on a merchandising campaign. Sometimes they are assigned editorial duties, rewriting and editing work completed by other writers. Copywriters are often assigned to many different types of accounts, requiring them to adapt to the necessary tone and medium of each account.
Copywriters who work for ad agencies may have a broad range of duties that go beyond writing. They may be responsible for writing annual reports, sales brochures, point-of-purchase materials, instruction manuals, and press releases. In broadcasting stations, copywriters may be required to create station announcements or other advertising material. In small firms, copywriters may direct other employees in helping them complete their duties. In these smaller operations, copywriters need to possess a comprehensive understanding of the agency.
Copywriters need to have knowledge of writing, art and layout, and the business of buying and selling advertising space. They also must have knowledge of typography. They should be creative, curious, and have knowledge in a wide array of subjects. They must have a passion for writing, and be able to express themselves clearly, concisely, and creatively. Self-motivation and perseverance are also important qualities.
Copywriters average about $40,000 per year. Depending on their position in the agency, they can earn from $27,000 per year as an assistant copywriter, to over $200,000 per year as a creative director. Copywriters often work overtime, and profit-sharing plans have become very popular in advertising firms.
Training and Education
Candidates for copywriting positions usually need to have a college degree. Liberal arts combined with business studies can provide a solid educational foundation. Colleges that offer degrees in communications may have courses specifically in copywriting. Courses in creative writing and knowledge of word processing equipment are important, if not essential. Students should gain actual writing experience beyond school work. Writing for school and community newspapers, or writing news releases or advertisements for school or community projects are both excellent ways to gain experience writing. Academic assignments such as essays can also demonstrate writing proficiency.
Employers prefer to hire applicants who have experience in copywriting, especially experience in their advertising specialty. Advertising agencies often hire applicants who have at least three to five years of experience, and sometimes may hire only applicants with knowledge in such specific fields of advertising as automobiles or confectionary. Most retail stores hire copywriters who have had experience writing company for retail merchandise.
In 2002, writers, including copywriters, held about 139,000 jobs. More than half worked in the various sectors of the information industry.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of copywriters is expected to increase about as fast as the average due to the increasing demand for these employees from advertising agencies. Competition is extremely high in this occupation, and opportunities will be best for those with training in a specialized field of advertising.
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