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Martha asks: To be a copywriter what kind of education and training do I need? What would be the general salary range?

Martha, here are some recent comments from the state of California.

WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS

The average wage for Copywriters is about $40,000 per year. Assistant Copywriters earn from $27,000 to $35,000 per year. Senior Copywriters can earn $100,000 per year or more. Agency Copy Chiefs can earn up to $125,000 annually. Creative Directors, who supervise the art as well as copy work and who are responsible for the entire process, earn up to $200,000 a year.

Although the normal workweek is 40 hours, there is considerable overtime. Compensation for overtime is at time and a half the regular rate. Peak hours of work in department stores occur most frequently before holiday seasons, and in advertising agencies during advertising campaigns.

Profit-sharing plans are becoming increasingly popular in advertising firms. Most employers offer paid holidays and vacations, retirement benefits, participation in medical, group life insurance, and hospitalization plans.

ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING

Copywriters should be skilled in visually roughing out ideas and in developing notable copy. In addition, Copywriters should possess a working knowledge of typography and layout.

Copywriting experience is preferred, particularly in the specialty of the job opening. Advertising agencies usually hire only those with three to five years' experience with an agency of comparable size, and sometimes require specialized experience in such diverse areas as automobiles and confectionery. Retail stores require experience in writing advertising copy for merchandise such as furniture, appliances, or women's fashions. Copywriting positions generally require a college degree. A combination of liberal arts and appropriate business courses provide a good educational base. Some colleges offer degrees in communications; these programs may include training in writing copy. Special courses in copywriting and creative writing are useful, as is familiarity with word processing equipment.

It is important to supplement formal education with actual writing experience. Writing for school and community publications is one way to gain this experience. Writing news releases or advertisements for school or community projects are other ways to gain experience. Well-written essays and other academic assignments can also be presented as examples of ability. Advertising agencies that hire inexperienced workers prefer college graduates.


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