Copywriters develop a broad range of print, web and broadcast messaging promoting causes, products or services. Junior copywriters represent the entry-level, less experienced end of this career path. Their most visible work is for the marketing and advertising industries, as well as public relations, government and many other organizations.
First and foremost, junior copywriters must show potential for writing. But more specifically, they need an understanding of the differences between audiences and how to make their work persuasive to a target audience. In most content development scenarios, copywriters must be comfortable collaborating with creative teams consisting of designers, management, and strategists. Successful copywriters are skilled not only in presenting ideas, but in forming those ideas to brand, style or platform constraints.
Given the diversity of messaging and media involved, and the high level of language skill called for, many employers require copywriters to complete bachelor’s degrees in fields such as communications, advertising or public relations. High-profile employers often limit their search to candidates with prior copywriting experience, even for their entry-level positions. Depending on the nature of the employer’s clientele, in some cases a very high level of creative and artistic ability is also required.
A junior copywriter is a key contributor in the development of the verbal content of ad campaigns, public service announcements or digital marketing. This calls for an ability to write to an array of tone, voice and format. Examples would include everything from ad slogans to policy announcements, and anywhere from billboards to web and social media content. Today’s copywriters must be able to scale a particular message from a 140-character tweet to a full-page print ad, while maintaining the sense of a consistent message across the various conventional and emerging media used to reach audiences.
The current Bureau of Labor Statistics data categorizes copywriters with professional writers and authors of various disciplines, and reports a less specific figure of $55,420 for general writer and author annual median pay. Several other online resources report a national median salary for junior copywriters of more than $40,000 per year, with the top 10 percent earning more than $56,000. National median senior copywriter salaries are reported at $65,000.
The BLS forecast for job growth is categorized for professional writers and authors, not specific to the copywriting profession. Projected growth is below the average for all occupations at six percent through 2020, and competition for those jobs is projected to increase. The strongest job opportunities will be for the most talented and most tech-savvy candidates as digital media continue to emerge and evolve in mass communication.
2016 Salary Information for Writers and Authors
Writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $61,240 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, writers and authors earned a 25th percentile salary of $43,130, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,500, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 131,200 people were employed in the U.S. as writers and authors.
Chuck Dye is a professional copywriter and award-winning journalist. His experience includes reporting and copy editing, earning awards from the Football Writers Association of America and Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Dye holds a master's degree in communications and a bachelor's degree in journalism, both from the University of Oregon.