Finding high-paying jobs for writers is relatively easy these days for many reasons. Many businesses and companies now understand the importance of “search engine visibility” which can only be achieved by hiring the services of experienced SEO copywriters.
Independent website owners also look for freelance writers who can deliver quality, engaging, and insightful content to keep their readers informed and engaged.
On top of that, the demand for experienced writers in the medical and legal sectors keeps growing. In a nutshell, there is always a demand for experienced writers, and finding well-paying jobs won’t be such a hard task.
Highest Paying Jobs for Writers in 2021
Here are the best writing jobs you can pursue as full-time careers and earn thousands of dollars every month. Most of these jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree, but having one can make it easy to land high-paying gigs.
Copywriters write insightful, persuasive material intended to persuade readers to take action and help businesses drive sales and increase revenue.
They can work on creating website copies or landing pages, company newsletters, flyers, emails, and sales letters among other things. They are also tasked with drafting the most persuasive headlines for the materials they create.
SEO copywriters focus primarily on creating engaging, insightful, and well-optimized articles/content for company websites and personal blogs.
A great copywriter has a good understanding of the product or service, the target audience, and can create a good copy that convinces the target audience to complete an action.
REQUIREMENTS: Although most copywriters have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, you can still get lucrative gigs if you have a strong portfolio of written work. Great copywriters are great storytellers, so if you can tell a story while drafting an awesome piece of content then you’re more likely to succeed in this field regardless of whether you have a bachelor’s degree or not.
EARNINGS: According to established SEO copywriter Chima Mmeje, an SEO copywriter can earn as high as $1,500 per project (or even more) when creating a sales copy. Copywriters who focus on website copies (e.g. articles and blog posts) and landing pages can earn as high as $600 per gig. It is one of the highest-paying jobs for writers where established copywriters earn more than $10,000 a month. Industry expertise, project technicality, and turnaround time determine how much you can earn.
2. Freelance Writer
A freelance writer is a person who writes articles, ad copies, and other forms of written content for news outlets, periodicals, magazines, companies, and other clients. Most freelance writers can create content in multiple industries and others choose to specialize in a specific niche.
As a freelance writer, you will have to bid for gigs and convince the hiring party that you can deliver quality content. You can do so by sending them a link to the portfolio of your previous work or send them samples of completed projects.
You can also choose to become a contributing freelance writer. This involves contributing to online publications such as blogs and company websites and be paid for it. This requires one to be consistent, deliver on time, and be able to produce quality content.
REQUIREMENTS: There are no education requirements to become a freelance writer other than being able to prove your ability to deliver. Having a portfolio of your previous work (e.g. a personal website) or samples of your work will make things easy. If you wish to contribute to blogs or websites, you might be required to submit a topic outline.
EARNINGS: Pay for freelance writers vary depending on many factors including the nature of the project, time needed to complete the project, level of expertise needed, and level of experience. According to a study by ClearVoice, freelance writers who charge per word charge anywhere between $0.06 to $1.5 per word. This means you can earn between $60 and $1,500 for a 1,000 words gig. In the U.S., the average pay of freelance writers is $23.90 per hour with the top-paid 10% earning more than $55.00 per hour.
3. Technical Writer
A technical writer is an expert who writes copies that simplify complex technical ideas and information to a level the general audience can read and understand while ensuring the final document is accurate, coherent, and relevant.
Technical writers are the ones responsible for writing product catalogs, user/instructional manuals, warning labels, tutorials, journal articles, white papers, FAQs, policy documents, educational resources, product packaging information, and business contracts among others.
To succeed as a technical writer, you’ll need to be conversant with tech-related concepts and be able to communicate them in a nontechnical, easy-to-comprehend language.
REQUIREMENTS: Having a bachelor’s degree largely depends on their roles and the company they work for. However, most technical writers have a degree in English, communications, journalism, or other relevant fields. They also have background knowledge relevant to the subject matter they write about. This could be IT, computer science, environmental policies, scientific research, or health care among others.
EARNINGS: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay of technical writers is $35.89 per hour ($74,650 per year). The highest-paid 10% earn more than $57/hr or $119,000 per year. Earnings largely depend on factors such as the writer’s industry expertise, experience, project technicality, and turnaround time.
4. Medical Writer
This is a high-paying writing job especially for those with experience in the medical field. Medical writers are responsible for translating complex medical or health care concepts, ideas, and documents into easy-to-understand documents.
They can work on medical articles, medical journals abstracts, advertisements for medical-related products and services, health care education materials, health care policy documents, grant proposals, medical/health care books, marketing materials, regulatory documents, white papers, and medical research papers among others.
The most common employers of medical writers in the United States include health care societies, biotech companies, clinical research organizations, marketing & advertising agencies, health care providers, government agencies such as FDA, medical book publishers, medical device companies, medical schools, news outlets, pharmaceutical companies, and peer-reviewed medical journals among others.
REQUIREMENTS: Having an academic background in a medical field, health sciences or on-the-job experience is important. You also need to be certified by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), which happens after passing the Medical Writing Certification Examination or if you have at least two years of experience in medical communications.
EARNINGS: This is one of the highest-paying medical certifications in the United States. According to sites such as PayScale, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, Salary.com, the annual salary of medical writers range between $53,000 and $85,000. The highest earners enjoy six-figure annual salaries. Here is a guide on how to become a medical writer.
5. Grant Writer
Grant writers are professionals who do research, write drafts, and submit proposals to help organizations, foundations, or individuals receive grant funding. Some grant writers are self-employed and take on projects from different sources while others work for nonprofit or charitable organizations.
The role of a grant writer is to identify sources of funding and draft persuasive proposals to help their clients secure the funds. They are required to follow grant application requirements unique to each donor when creating the proposals.
REQUIREMENTS: Most grant writers pursue a bachelor’s degree in fields such as English, Communications, or Technical Writing. This makes it easy for them to land entry-level jobs. Some colleges and universities offer certification programs for aspiring grant writers. If going to school isn’t your cup of tea, you can use online resources to learn or get on-the-job training to develop and sharpen the skills necessary to draft a great grant proposal.
EARNINGS: Grant writers charge hundreds to thousands of dollars per project. Hourly rates range between $20 and $100, which largely depends on a writer’s experience and urgency of the project among other factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writers, which include grant writers, earn a median annual salary of 74,650 per year. The highest-paid 10% earn more than $57/hr or $119,000 per year.
6. Proposal Writer
Proposal writers are experts who focus primarily on writing proposals for their clients to help them secure contracts. A proposal writer should understand the business language and be able to draft winning proposals for their clients.
They need to do in-depth research and analysis, understand business dynamics relevant to the contract their client aims to secure, then proceed to write a persuasive proposal that demonstrates their client as the perfect choice for the contracting company.
REQUIREMENTS: While having a bachelor’s degree is not needed for one to become a proposal writer, most have a bachelor’s degree in English, Communications, or Journalism. Some have completed coursework in fields closely related to the type of business proposals they write.
EARNINGS: The mean annual salary of proposal writers in the U.S. is $62,988 and the top earners get as high as $110,000 per year. Salaries vary depending on the level of experience, the urgency of the proposal, and the location of the hiring company. The best-paying cities for proposal writers are Sunnyvale, Santa Rosa, Cambridge, Vacaville, New York City, Fairfield, San Mateo, Lynn, Anchorage, and Baltimore.
This is another high-paying job for writers with or without a college degree. A ghostwriter is more or less an undercover writer who produces copies like articles, blog posts, books, speeches, and email newsletters among others that will be credited to someone else, such as the person who hired them or one of the company staff.
This means if you become a ghostwriter and any of the articles you write get published on the web, your name will not be on the byline. Someone else will be credited as having written the copy.
REQUIREMENTS: You do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a ghostwriter, but short technical writing courses will help you be a better writer. Having a personal website can help you land well-paying clients.
EARNINGS: The amount a ghostwriter earns depends on many factors, including experience, expertise needed to complete the project, project word count, and turnaround time. The best-paid ghostwriters are those who write books and memoirs. For example, Kelly James-Enger, who is a successful ghostwriter, earned the following for his ghostwriting projects:
- $12,000 for a 55,000-word memoir
- $15,000 for a 40,000-word business book
- $20,000 for a 60,000-word health book
- $25,000 for an 80,000-word nutrition/fitness book
These salaries make ghostwriting one of the highest paying jobs for writers in the United States. Stay anonymous and make tens of thousands of dollars.
Another lucrative way to put your writing skills to good use is by writing scripts for TV programs, short films, feature films, video games, movies, radio & TV commercials, or theatre shows. Screenwriters also create the storyline, dialogue, and characters.
They may collaborate with actors, directors, and producers to come up with the final piece. Most screenwriters start off as freelancers, writing “on spec” screenplays. These are screenplays that were not assigned to the writer and are often meant to be sold to a production studio.
REQUIREMENTS: There are no education requirements to become a screenwriter, such as getting a bachelor’s degree. However, taking classes in creative writing and film will be beneficial. Besides, you might be a good writer and creative thinker, but in order to produce a good script, you’ll need technical knowledge, which you can acquire by taking creative writing classes.
EARNINGS: According to PayScale, the average base salary of screenwriters in the U.S. is $78,611 per year. The highest-paid earns more than $206,000 a year. Screenwriters who work for big production studios can earn as high as $5 million per project. Salaries depend on factors such as location, experience, project type, and employer among others.
Just as the title suggests, speechwriters write speeches for politicians, business executives, celebrities, and representatives among others. They take their time to understand the subject matter, the tone of the speaker, and which key topics the speaker wishes to address in his/her speech.
Great speechwriters land long-term contracts with their clients. For example, politicians tend to remain loyal to their speechwriters if they are great at drafting the best speeches.
REQUIREMENTS: Education requirements for speechwriters vary. However, one should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fields such as creative writing, public relations, communications, or journalism. You should have strong communication skills, public speaking experience, creativity, and be able to showcase great writing ability.
EARNINGS: According to an interview with an established speechwriter, entry-level political speechwriters earn between $30,000 and $40,000 a year while those in the corporate world earn between $50,000 and $60,000 a year. Those with six to 10 years of experience as professional speechwriters can earn between $80,000 and $120,000 a year. In a good year, the highest-paid speechwriters can earn up to $200,000 a year.
10. Proofreader & Editor
Although proofreaders and editors are different, their primary role is to improve the quality of a document and make sure it has no errors before it gets published.
Proofreaders go through the document to identify and fix grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. They also make sure there are no textual and/or numerical inconsistencies.
On the other hand, editors go through the document to check for grammar, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors. They edit poorly constructed sentences, improve language clarity, write comments/recommendations on the document, and much more.
Editors generally do more compared to proofreaders and help improve the document’s clarity, readability, and tone before it gets approved for publishing.
REQUIREMENTS: Proofreaders and editors oftentimes hold a bachelor’s degree in English, Journalism, or other related fields. However, graduates in other disciplines can enjoy successful careers as proofreaders and/or editors by demonstrating their understanding and mastery of written language. For example, a graduate in a medical field can complete a short proofreading/editing certification course rather than enrolling for a new bachelor’s degree.
EARNINGS: Editors earn a mean annual salary of $50,571 with the highest earners getting more than $79,000 a year. Proofreaders earn a mean annual salary of $45,964 with the top earners getting more than $69,000 a year. Freelance editors and proofreaders can earn as high as $100,000 per year if they land consistent high-paying gigs.
To sum it up…
We have highlighted the most common high-paying jobs for writers in 2021, most of which do not require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Earning potential is influenced mainly by factors such as experience, level of expertise, project size, location, and turnaround time.