English or Creative Writing majors are often seen as fun, easy majors, and for anyone who enjoys writing, they are more than enjoyable to complete. Still, like any college experience, getting a Creative Writing major more than likely leaves you in debt, looking for a job. Unfortunately, English jobs are scarce and typically require some combination of luck, skill and being in the right place at the right time. Creative writing is subjective; that is one reason that some people love it, but this trait doesn’t come in handy when looking for a job. It is subjective, so a potential employer may just not like a style of writing that you gravitate towards, or they may love it. English and Creative Writing majors are sometimes considered dead ends; it’s hard enough to get a job, let alone pay off any debt you may have accrued.
Luckily, you have options. There are jobs in Creative Writing, both for people with and without degrees if you look into it and dedicate yourself to finding a career in these fields. Although they may be harder to find, they exist, and if you work hard, you can eventually grow into a very profitable career in the field.
Careers if You Earned a Creative Writing Degree
If you’ve put the time and effort into getting a creative writing degree, you may expect to only find job opportunities in the fiction field. That isn’t the case. There are many jobs that writers can get, and showing you earned the degree often illustrates a certain level of experience with writing, not a specialty in creative writing.
People with this degree often find themselves as journalists, content or blog managers and writers or technical writers. There is a lot of writing in the world, and if the writing comes from a big company, they likely have hired a resident writer to write it for quality control. Think Apple, Microsoft, Google, Target, or any other big company. The products they produce have writing in many forms: product descriptions, waivers and forms and billing. Studying creative writing can help you secure a spot as a technical writer at one of these companies. By getting a degree, you have proven that you have a baseline knowledge of writing and grammar above most others.
Technical writing is a good place to start because it can help strengthen skills you will need if you want to go into poetry or novel writing. Poetry and writing novels are by far two of the most subjective arts in the field. You don’t need a degree, although one can certainly help. Most writers who go into writing novels or poetry start at the technical level and work on manuscripts in their free time until they get a bite at a publishing company. If you have a degree, this can help you support yourself while you pursue creative writing.
Writing Jobs Without a Degree
For those who don’t have a degree or are in the process of getting a degree and are looking for work, there are some more menial creative writing jobs without degree needed. Since you don’t have any proof of a baseline of experience, you may have to start lower on the totem pole, but you could easily earn your way up.
A good example is freelance writing, which is very different from most jobs you could get with a degree because it is largely independent work. Freelance writers are typically hired on a job by job basis as opposed to being a permanent worker. There are some benefits of freelance writing jobs that resident writers just don’t have. Freelance writers can participate in remote creative writing; many sites like Upwork, freelancer.com and textbroker.com operate on an online-only basis that gives writers freedom. In addition, with remote creative writing, the writer controls time off, taxes and hours. There are drawbacks, but a base level job as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, or contract writer can help establish experience and propel you into high-level work.
If you’re looking to go into more creative writing work such as poetry or fiction writing, this is not as certain as ghostwriting, but it’s not impossible. With dedication and hard work, one can skip the climbing the ladder phase and jump right to publishing. This goal is very difficult and improbable, but it is possible, and it can be done with absolutely no degree in the field.
Overall, a degree in creative writing can be helpful, and it definitely isn’t the dead-end that some consider it to be. Still, it is usually a lot of money and time, and one should assess their goals in the field before committing. Planning for a degree to write a novel probably isn’t the best option. If you’re looking to write a novel, use alternative methods. Workbooks designed for writing a novel can be helpful in planning and executing a novel, and they are cheaper and less of a commitment than a degree. You can use a physical workbook designed to organize world-building, characters, plot, setting and anything else you might want to include.
On the other hand, if you are interested in writing of all kinds, a creative writing degree will be a great way to establish a baseline and prove your experience to potential employers. There are plenty of interesting jobs you can get with this experience, and you can easily work your way up the chain of command to improve your salary and benefits. If you are a career writer, this is the degree for you. If writing is an aspirational hobby, don’t invest so heavily in it because you will likely have to start off writing technical pieces for a company or textbooks for schools.
Be warned, most of these jobs require hard work and persistence to break into at first. Writing is subjective, so you’ll likely have to be shot down at least once or twice, or more. Not everyone will like what you offer. With hard work, though, you will find someone who appreciates your style, and you will find a job to support yourself. Here are some jobs you can look into that center on the Creative Writing field. Although you may have to work on some menial writing tasks before making your way up the ladder, getting experience is the first step.