Most people don’t consider writing a lucrative career path—that is, outside of the few writers who make it big with a New York Times bestseller or an award-winning screenplay. And thanks to the “starving artist” stereotype, many people think they need to choose between their love of writing and a stable, profitable career. But the truth is, there are plenty of writing-centric jobs out there that pay well; you just need to know where to look.
We’ve compiled a list of nine high-paying jobs you should definitely consider if you love to write. For the purposes of this article, we’re defining a high-paying job as one where the average salary, based on data from the compensation resource PayScale, is above the median salary for all occupations in the U.S.—which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $41,950 as of May 2020. (PayScale’s database is updated nightly—these numbers reflect information from April 2021.) In many cases, the salary range and more senior roles along the same path mean your long-term earning potential is even higher.
Average salary: $53,520
Salary range: $35,000–$83,000
It’s an editor’s job to oversee a piece of writing from inception to publication. Depending on the type of writing they’re editing (and the writer they’re working with), this can include honing the thesis, framing, and structure; ensuring the facts are accurate and the sources credible; making suggestions about how to improve the writing (for example, calling out inconsistencies in voice or tone); eliminating unnecessary sentences or paragraphs; and correcting grammar and spelling mistakes. Editors can work in a variety of settings, including for book publishers, media companies, magazines, newspapers, and brands (where they would edit the company’s website or other content).
Editors need to have an in-depth understanding of all things writing—including grammar, style, narrative, and structure. As such, most editors are writers themselves and/or hold a degree in a writing-related field (like English or journalism). The financial opportunity for editorial professionals increases as you progress in your career—with senior editors making an average of $69,986 per year and editorial directors pulling in an average of $94,713 annually.
2. Content Marketing Manager
Average salary: $68,395
Salary range: $46,000–$100,000
Content marketing managers lead the charge when it comes to developing and executing content for a company. While some content marketing managers take a generalist approach, many specialize in creating and overseeing specific types of content—such as blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, website content, and social media posts.
While content marketing managers do spend a significant amount of time creating content (including writing), they also spend a good amount of time on strategy—making this a great role if you love to write, but don’t want to spend all your time tapping at a keyboard. You’ll also have a chance to think about the bigger picture and figure out how content can support an organization’s overall mission and goals.
Some companies want their content marketing managers to hold degrees, but many are more interested in a candidate’s ability to strategize, create, and promote content—so as long as you’re a solid writer and understand the basics of content marketing, there are definitely opportunities to get into the field. Content marketing managers also have the opportunity for upward mobility (and the increased salary that goes with it)—with content marketing directors making an average of $93,400 per year.
3. Communications Manager
Average salary: $65,851
Salary range: $44,000–$101,000
Communications managers are, as you might guess, in charge of a company’s communications—often both internal and external. Responsibilities could include defining and developing the company’s voice, developing and managing the company’s communication strategy, writing internal guides and resources, managing client- and customer-facing communications (such as press releases, press conferences, or other media opportunities), and ensuring that all business communications, internal and external, are in line with the company’s mission and goals.
Because a communication manager is managing the company’s communication, a lot of writing and editing is involved—but there are also plenty of strategic responsibilities and opportunities to interact with colleagues and external partners to keep things interesting.
To get your foot in the door as a communications manager, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or a related field. And while communications managers demand competitive salaries, the financial opportunities will only increase as you grow in your career—with senior communications managers making an average of $100,520 per year and VPs making an average of $148,870.
4. Technical Writer
Average salary: $60,852
Salary range: $43,000–$88,000
Technical writers are responsible for writing copy that translates complex technical ideas into something a general audience can read and understand—including for instruction manuals, tutorials, journal articles, and educational resources.
As the title implies, writing is the main part of any technical writing gig. But to succeed in this role, you’ll need more than writing chops; you’ll also need a deep understanding of tech-related concepts—and the ability to communicate those concepts using nontechnical language. As such, technical writers often have a degree in English, communications, journalism, or similar, along with background knowledge relevant to the subject matter they’ll be writing about, such as computer science, information technology, scientific research in a certain field, environmental policies, or manufacturing processes (although, depending on the role and company, a degree might not be required to land a job). For senior technical writers, the average salary jumps up to $84,292.
5. Medical Writer
Average salary: $72,948
Salary range: $55,000–$102,000
Similar to a technical writer, a medical writer takes extremely complex concepts and ideas and translates them into easier-to-digest copy—only medical writers have a particular focus on all things healthcare. Medical writers can work in a variety of environments, including businesses (for example, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, supplement companies, or health tech startups), medical associations, or healthcare providers. They may work on a number of project types, including medical articles, policy documents, or training and educational materials.
Because medical and scientific know-how is a must to succeed, most medical writers have an academic background in biology or other sciences and some have experience in the medical field (for example, as a nurse). However, depending on the role, having impeccable research skills and the ability to understand medical concepts and translate them for the target audience may be enough to get into the field. And while medical writers make a great salary from the get-go, there’s also room for growth—with senior medical writers making an average of $95,239 per year.
6. PR Manager
Average salary: $70,255
Salary range: $46,000–$101,000
Public relations managers (also commonly referred to as PR managers) are responsible for building brand awareness and driving positive brand sentiment for a person, company, product, or service. They accomplish those goals through a variety of strategies, including building relationships with the media, drafting press releases, developing and leading consumer-facing campaigns, and minimizing the impact of negative press.
PR managers may work for an independent business (like a restaurant), a business group or corporation (like a hotel chain or a book publisher), a nonprofit (like a food bank), an academic or other institution (like a university), or an individual (like a politician, celebrity, or author) and generally need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, marketing, or a related field. And while PR managers enjoy a great average salary, candidates who prove they can drive brand awareness and positive press can typically demand higher compensation packages—and PR directors make an average of $88,178.
Average salary: $52,821
Salary range: $38,000–$76,000
Copywriters are responsible for writing material that persuades the reader to take action—whether that’s in the form of an advertisement, a website landing page, or a sales letter. Ultimately, copywriters create the content that helps businesses drive sales—making them an incredibly valuable asset to companies looking to engage their customers and move the needle on conversions and revenue.
While some companies will require their copywriters to hold a degree, many are primarily concerned with their ability to write copy that drives results. It should be noted that while the average copywriter demands a solid salary, many companies out there are willing to pay big bucks for results—so if you’re gifted at writing sales copy, you’ll likely be able to demand a higher salary. A senior copywriter, for example, makes an average of $75,689.
8. Research Analyst
Average salary: $56,793/year
Salary range: $42,000 - $82,000/year
Research analysts are responsible for collecting, verifying, organizing, and analyzing data—and using that analysis to reach key business conclusions and make data-backed recommendations to their employer. Research analysts can work in a variety of fields and departments (including finance, marketing, economics, and operations).
While much of a research analyst’s job has to do with data, another major part of their role is sharing their analysis and findings to stakeholders within the company—and that means writing detailed reports and preparing and giving presentations. So if you’re looking for a job that combines your love of research and data with your love of writing? This could be the opportunity for you.
Generally, you need at least a bachelor’s degree to get started as a research analyst, but once you’ve got your foot in the door, there’s serious opportunity for growth—with senior research analysts making an average of $70,169 per year and, for those who want to eventually take on more of a leadership role, research directors making an average of $103,556 per year.
9. Curriculum Developer
Average salary: $63,750
Salary range: $43,000–$92,000
Curriculum developers are responsible for researching and writing academic, educational, and/or training materials, including textbooks, digital and college course materials (such as outlines and syllabi), and other resources to aid in teaching and/or training. Depending on the type of curriculum they specialize in, curriculum developers may work for universities, research institutions, nonprofits, or corporations.
Most curriculum developers have at least a bachelor’s degree, top-notch research and writing skills, and in-depth knowledge in their area of focus (for example, a curriculum developer writing a textbook on math would need to have an in-depth understanding of the subject matter). Next steps on your career path might include curriculum director (with an average salary of $74,513) or training director (with an average salary of $87,540).