Top 5 Writing Careers

By Mara Strom

Have you always wanted to become a writer? Perhaps your high school English teacher told you that your writing showed “real promise,” or maybe you recently considered the profession after your boss praised your written reports. Whatever made you think about writing for a living, you have chosen well: A writing career offers a wide range of possibilities for success.

Here is a look at five of the top writing careers out there. Can online education help you become the next successful author or online writer?

Magazine Writing

Considered one of the most prestigious writing jobs, getting published in national magazines is a high-profile way to earn an extremely competitive salary. Magazine writers can earn as much as $2 per word or more. Even niche magazines typically pay at least $1 per word. Not only do magazine writers earn top dollars, they also gain invaluable exposure to millions of readers each month.

Magazine writing is a tough industry to break into, though. You definitely need a good plan and an even better dose of perseverance. While there are infinite resources about how to pitch your story ideas to a magazine, you might also want to consider enriching your educational background. If a full-time college degree isn’t in the cards for you, consider an online degree in communications or English.

Newspaper Writing

Do you work well under pressure? Newspaper deadlines are extremely short, especially when you cover breaking news, but being a reporter for your local newspaper is a great way to get your start in the writing industry. Newspapers hire both freelance writers and staff writers, although assignments usually pay (significantly) less than magazine work.

A degree in journalism is a major plus if you are looking to land your first newspaper job, especially if you want to work for one of the major dailies. Depending on your “beat” (the subject area you cover), you might also consider studying criminal justice, finance or even political science. The key to marketing yourself as a newspaper writer is to mix writing experience with knowledge in a niche subject area.

Technical Writing

The job of a technical writer is to translate complex scientific or technical information into easy-to-understand text. Technical writers are the ones who write your operating manuals and assembly instructions; they also write sales materials and technical documents. Some technical writers are employed full-time; others are hired for contract work on a freelance basis.

The field of technical writing has become increasingly competitive in the last decade, which means employers are looking not only for experience but also for a strong educational background in either technical writing or applied sciences. Online degrees can be ideal for technical writers, since they can study from home while earning experience in the field.

Web Content Writing

Web content writing is a great job for new and established writers alike, especially those who are interested in working from home. Web content writing may include online articles, newsletters, blogs and press releases for a wide range of clients. Pay for Web content varies from a few cents per word to $1 or more per word. Experience and a proven track record are the keys to earning higher rates.

Many of the most prolific (and profitable) content writers have an educational background in communications or English.

Fiction Writing

Perhaps the most challenging writing career to break into is that of the (well-paid) fiction writer. If you have been working on your great American novel since you were 12, then you know how long it can take to produce a coherent piece of fiction, and that doesn’t count the years of submitting your work to publishing houses.

Like the other writing careers, becoming a fiction writer does not require a formal degree. However, many published writers do have a formal educational background in writing, English, advertising, communications or journalism. Even the most successful writers know that it can never hurt to pursue their craft academically.

If you work a full-time job but want to pursue the education needed to become an author or writer, online education could be the right choice for you. can help you find an online degree program from an accredited college or university that matches your needs.

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