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How To Become A Staff Writer – Ask Anne

staff writerI got this question:

If someone wants to become a staff writer, does he have to have a bachelor’s degree in order to be considered? Or can you be a staff writer without a degree? Can previous work as a freelance writer get you the job?

The advantage of a staff job are obvious – a predictable salary, maybe some benefits and the opportunity to write and be published.

The disadvantages are also obvious. I’m prejudiced in favor of working from home, but I too have been tempted from time-to-time by staff jobs.

And there are staff jobs out there for writers. There are even a few staff writing jobs that let you work mostly or completely from your home office. A search on Google can help you find what you’re looking for. So can your network of friends.

As with all employment, the requirements for a staff writing job will vary. Some will require a degree and others won’t. And of course your freelance writing credits count.

Start with your writing resume. Add any other skills you might have, particularly management experience and ability to meet budgets and deadlines.

If your skills are strong I’d suggest sending in your resume even if they say they want a degree and you don’t have one.

Even more to the point use Linkedin and other resources to make sure your resume gets in the hands of  the hiring authority.

Apply away and I’d suggest you keep working on the freelancing while you’re trying to land a staff job.

How have you gotten staff writing jobs?

If you’ve got a question about freelance writing, contact me, putting Q&A in the subject line and I’ll do my best to answer it here.


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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • I’m with you, Anne. I took a Composition and Literature teaching job for only 4 weeks, only 3 hours a day and it’s killing me :). I’m ready to be back in my home office!

    • Anne

      Teaching I think is particularly draining.

  • You’re describing me, Anne — I got two staff jobs, one of them for a tony Park Avenue-based trade-publication house, both without a degree. I’m sure both job descriptions called for one.

    I think it’s getting harder and harder to do that, though — it’s been over a decade since I did it last. There are quite a few publications where not only do you need a degree, but they have a preferred j-school they like to pull all their candidates from! (One place I worked it was Medill, Northwestern’s school.)

    But sometimes, where you want to go as a writer…you can just write your way there. Certainly nothing should stop you from applying for any gig you think you can do.

    As a freelancer, I’ve never had anyone even ask if I had a degree…wide open spaces.
    Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing recently posted..8 Great Tools for Successful Freelance Writers & BloggersMy Profile

    • I don’t know if you’re right about it being harder to switch to inside work today Carol. We’ve also added inside seo and other internet writing gigs and at least in San Diego there are still print publications… about as many as we’ve always had. Of course, I haven’t been tracking their ads or applying so I don’t know if they say they want a degree or not. I always ignore that anyway.

  • I have to admit that, like you, I doubt I could work in an office environment again. That being said, the lure of a regular good income would be attractive – as long as I could pursue freelance writing in my spare time.

    If you are looking for a job with a magazine or newspaper, you could approach them with offers of work on a freelance basis because that may lead to something. Or you could offer to work for free to gain the experience.

    it is all about getting your foot in the door. However from what I have heard you must expect to start at the bottom, writing up boring stories until you have made your mark.

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