What Can You Do With a Writing Certificate?

What Can You Do With a Writing Certificate?
portrait of Adreon Patterson
By Adreon Patterson

Published on May 26, 2021

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While many people equate a career in writing with publishing or journalism, it's actually a broad field with numerous specialties. For students who want to pursue work that relies on their writing skills, a certificate in writing may be a smart choice.

These programs, offered through traditional two- and four-year universities, online colleges, and professional organizations, can help students gain expertise in specialized fields and set themselves apart on the job market.

Writing-related careers include fields like marketing, advertising, journalism, technical writing, and copywriting. While demand for employees in some of the more traditional writing fields has taken a hit, the digital world has opened up new opportunities for writers, such as social media manager, web content writer, and blogger.

What Will You Learn in a Writing Certificate Program?

A certificate in writing aims to enhance your reading, writing, and editing skills. You'll learn from trusted writing professionals and typically study topics like writing techniques, formatting, and styling.

You may also learn about practices and standards, typography, and the publishing sector. Skills you may develop include computer literacy, content strategy, fictional world-building, B2B or B2C relationship-building, time management, multitasking, and collaboration.

Types of Writing Certificate Programs

  • Business writing
  • Copywriting and content writing
  • Creative writing
  • Digital marketing and media
  • Editing and copy editing
  • Environmental writing
  • Grant writing
  • Medical writing
  • Newswriting and reporting
  • Playwriting
  • Professional and public writing
  • Publishing
  • Screenwriting
  • Social media writing
  • Technical writing
  • Writing theory

Courses vary depending on the writing certificate program in which you're enrolled. For example, someone pursuing a creative writing certificate may take courses on plot structure, character development, and storytelling, while someone studying business or technical writing may take classes in UX design, methodology, and editing.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Writing Certificate?

A writing certificate is generally most useful for careers that primarily entail writing and editing. For instance, medical writing is a highly sought-after area of expertise that pays well. These writers research and write clinical documents like protocols, papers, analysis plans, and consent forms for health-related businesses.

Technical writers prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, and other documents, while grant writers search for, write, and submit proposals to help businesses and nonprofits pursue funding. Other fields for certificate-holders include writing for film and television, web content writing, social media marketing, and copy editing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for writers and authors is $67,120. For technical writers, it's slightly higher at $74,650. Jobs for writers and authors are projected to decline 2% from 2019 to 2029, while technical writing jobs are projected to increase 7% during that time.

Writing Jobs and Salaries
Job Average Salary (May 2021)
Medical Writer $73,590
Screenwriter $70,000
Technical Writer $61,080
Editor $53,930
Copywriter $53,060
Social Media Manager $51,810
Copy Editor $50,680
Writer / Author $50,570
Grant Writer $49,280
Blogger $48,810
Content Writer $47,730

Source: PayScale

A writing certificate isn't required for most writing careers, as employers usually rely on samples of your work to determine your skills. But having a certificate can certainly help by providing more samples for your portfolio and giving you some basic experience in the field.

Beyond a certificate in writing, online tutorials and books or blogs about writing can help you boost your knowledge and skill set.

Can You Earn a Writing Certificate Online?

Because most writing these days is digital, the subject works well as an online offering. In online writing certificate programs, you'll develop and hone your writing skills while strengthening your digital literacy and knowledge of common writing software and applications. Online students typically complete weekly assignments as well as a larger end-of-term project.

As with any online course, make sure the program is accredited. Looking at offerings beyond writing programs is also an option. Many online programs in areas like advertising and business offer concentrations in writing or a related field.

Other considerations include the following:

Is the program synchronous or asynchronous? Is it self-paced or is there a specific schedule or calendar you have to follow? Will the course load be specialized or broad? What kind of digital learning platform and writing software will be required?

Is a Writing Certificate Worth It?

Just like a traditional degree, a writing certificate's worth can be measured by its impact on the student and their career. This credential can highlight your superior writing skills to potential employers as well as your willingness to put in the time and effort to master those skills.

Another perk of a writing certificate is its cost-effectiveness. A certificate requires far less time and money than a bachelor's or master's in writing. While cost and time can vary, many writing certificates take two years or less and run in the range of a few thousand dollars to around $10,000.

A certificate requires far less time and money than a bachelor’s or master’s in writing.

A writing certificate can also give you a leg up in your job search, especially if you earned a certificate in a highly specialized area, like social media writing or medical writing.

With so many choices for putting your writing talents to work, it's up to you to figure out where your interests lie and whether a writing certificate program is right for you.

Feature Image: Maica / E+ / Getty Images

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