Try as we might, most of us won’t rocket out of undergrad with a BFA in creative writing and a book deal with Random House. But if you do your degree right, you will come out with solid skills in communication, rhetoric, critical thinking, organization, research, attention to detail, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to handle and make use of criticism. Not to mention how well-read you’ll be.
Creative writing majors get a bad rap, criticized for pursuing a degree with no clear job trajectory. But that’s the advantage of being a creative writing major—there are so many things you can do with it.
Here are nine jobs for creative writing majors that will actually let you use your degree.
1. Technical writer/editor
Technical writers and editors are ultra detail-oriented professionals who write manuals, instructions, processes, and guidelines. They deal with regulations and laws and serve as keepers of precise language. If you pursue this kind of career, you might work in medicine or pharma (which often requires a little extra training and a certification or two), nuclear regulation, engineering (of all kinds), software, government, or finance. Technical writing salaries typically start in the $50,000s and can exceed $100,000.
2. Communications coordinator/manager/director
Like tech writers, communications professionals are employable across all kinds of industries—finance, PR, marketing, NGOs, health care, software, museums, technology, travel, consumer goods, media, education, law, government—pretty much anywhere a company or organization needs to communicate with clients or customers or, in large organizations, a lot of people within the company. In this kind of position you might write press releases and memos, craft corporate messaging, or even dabble in email, social media, or marketing campaigns. Your salary will vary widely based on your industry and experience.
It’s a legit job, folks, and a lucrative one at that. Host your own or land a job as a producer, which can make you about $65,000 per year. The barrier to entry is pretty low, but competition is high to stand out in a flooded market. But you’ve got those excellent storytelling skills, so we feel like you’ve got this.
You’ll need at least an MFA in creative writing (or a Ph.D. in English, depending on what you’d like to teach and how high you’d like to climb) if you’d like to teach at the college level, but it’s a career that will afford you the time to write, and will even require it of you. Creative writing professors and English professors make about $60,000 per year (more if you make tenure).
Editors do more than work on book-length manuscripts at publishing houses. Editors can work across industries—marketing, business, law, government, nonprofits, magazines and online publications, tech, and anywhere you might need to deal with language (i.e., everywhere). Expect to start out as a copy editor (also called a line editor) or research editor and move up to deal with editorial strategy as a whole. The salaries for editors vary depending on the industry and can range from $40,000 to $100,000+.
6. Public relations professional
Your ability to communicate clearly and gracefully deal with criticism can set you up well for a career in public relations. PR pros liaise between organizations and the media/public, craft messaging, and come up with ways to deal with the heat in crisis scenarios. In some organizations, PR overlaps, sometimes significantly, with communications jobs like the one mentioned above. An entry-level PR job can net you about $58,000, while those at the director level can expect to earn anywhere from $80,000 to well into the six figures.
Read more:How to Find a Job You Love (No, Really)
Journalists can work for newspapers, magazines, online publications, broadcast news, podcasts, and radio stations—or you can set your own schedule and go freelance. Journalists pull down mid-$30,000 to $80,000 per year.
Columnists need to be an “expert” in something (or at the very least, a keen observer of)—it might be politics, social issues, film, books, feminism, wine, travel, or culture. If you hope to land a column, start a blog about your area of expertise to build a robust portfolio. Columnists make $40,000 to $70,000 per year.
I can’t think of many things better than spending your day among books. You’ll need a master’s degree in library science to be a librarian, but your degree in creative writing is a natural lead-in to such a program. Librarians make an average of $57,000 per year.