You’re a writer, or else you wouldn’t be here researching how to be the best writer you can be or climb the ladder of success without the merit of a degree.
As a writer myself, I can tell you that you do not need a college degree, but it will certainly help your chances of standing out against writers that do have a college degree.
Don’t let that scare you off though as some of the most influential authors in history didn’t have a college degree including Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Maya Angelou to name a mere few.
Do you need a degree to become an author? If you have an excellent portfolio and a proven track-record of excellence, this can help you become an author. However, most full-time writing positions will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, English, or Communications. If you want to write a book or other creative writing, you do not need a degree.
There are many factors which play into who gets hired for what position and having a degree will not automatically make you a good writer.
Only natural ability can prove your worth in this ever-changing field. Whether you want the degree or not, only the best writers will be noticed – Use this guide to help you be just that.
Do You Need a Degree to Become an Author?
If you are born to be a writer, you may easily find success without ever requiring a single class, let alone a degree. You either have it or you don’t, and if you can prove your worth without a piece of paper – more power to you.
Many argue that the degree might actually suck the natural charm from your style by imposing too many rules and regulations on your technique.
That’s one way of thinking of it that is optimistic, but on the less cheerful side – it does lower your chances for jobs.
What you need to understand as a job applicant is that there are many modern job sites that will run your resume through an Applicant Tracking System to determine if you are eligible.
Sadly, many of those job postings will throw the candidates without a degree right into the garbage.
This is why it can be very advantageous to have the degree – It gets you in the running at least. Not all positions will require a degree but yes, the majority will for any long-term contract or full-time position that pay top dollar.
7 Traits of a Good Author
#1 Being Humble
You’re going to get a lot of rejection, with or without that college degree. Get used to hearing back from about 1-5% of the jobs you apply to. Don’t take it as an insult to your work because everyone has a different vision they are looking for. You may not be that vision, but you will be to someone else. That 1-5% success rate is all you need, as long as you apply rigorously and have a lot to offer.
#2 Being Self-Disciplined
Ernest Hemmingway said it best – “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It is painful and difficult to write, pour your heart out to the page, and edit that to make sense to others. But writers are a needed part of society in all forms (business, entertainment, legal proposals, poetry, etc.) We need writers and writers need discipline.
#3 Possessing an Intriguing Vocabulary
If you have a way with words and seem to pluck the perfect phrase right out of thin air, you may be a natural born writer.
Keeping your audience at the forefront of your thoughts. What do they need? What questions might they have? Who am I writing to specifically and how would they react to this?
Good Writing is like a souffle. You have to give it time to rise and set, without disrupting its peaceful balance. Take time to explain things to someone else. Break it down like they have no idea what’s going on and you’ll be a more patient and effective writer.
#6 You Can Rely on Others
Let go of control sometimes, you’ll need to if you want to succeed as a published author. We all need to edit and check our work to be sure it is up to standards. But there are things you will never catch in your own work because you are the one who wrote it.
There is a mean undeniable trick our eyes play on us that we can’t always catch on our own mistakes. We need editors and proof-readers with fresh eyes who have never seen the document to catch the little blunders you’ve grown blind to after rereading the piece too much. This is nothing to be embarrassed about and all writers need a double-checker. If you’re not investing in an editor for your self-publishing work, start now.
#7 You Like to Read
Not all writers like to read but that would be a mistake. You can only improve your skill by understanding new ways of doing things and how other people think. If you can’t write to other people’s thoughts, you are only writing for yourself which won’t pay the bills very well.
If you’re not going to college where they will give you many books to read and learn from, you’ll need to self-educate and find these resources for yourself.
Best Schools for Writers
Don’t end up in the garbage bin anymore with the Applicant Tracking System sabotaging your chances.
You have skills and they deserve to be noticed! (You at least deserve to be given the chance for your portfolio to be seen and not booted for lack of a single document).
A college degree will teach you valuable skills, offer you discipline as a student, and greatly elevate your odds of getting more jobs. In case you’re ready to invest in your future, here are the best schools in the U.S. for becoming an Author/Writer:
- North Western University
- Emerson University
- University of Washington
- Johns Hopkins University
- New York University
Each of these schools have fantastic writing programs and are tailored to help you hone your craft.
Financial Aid Resources for University
College is not always feasible with high college tuitions, taking time off work, and when you have a family. But you can use these resources to find affordable education:
- Unigo Writing Scholarships
- Student Aid Grants and Scholarships
- Writing Scholarships
- Help Paying for School
- Ways to Attend College for Free by Bank Rate
Each college will also offer a financial aid tab on their homepage for you to explore the school of your choice and what opportunities they may have.
Growth in Writing Field
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, “Employment of technical writers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.”
With more people reading today than ever, we need more writers to keep up with it. This means that not all of them will have a college degree, nor do they need to.
That’s yet another advantage in your artillery belt that you should consider when you’re afraid to get started
Google: The New Degree
In the twenty-first century, you have more opportunities than ever before. Today you can:
- Write to an audience in which almost 90% can read (a relatively new advancement in humankind)
- Self-publish on KDP, CreateSpace, Lulu, and dozens more self-publishing sites
- Share your words on a variety of free platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and more – all with free advertising and promotion for your writing
- Digitally apply to jobs without having to go door-to-door like people used to (thank you internet!)
There is truly no excuse in this modern age where you have a plethora of blessings including Google to learn any skill.
Google is the new college degree. So do your research, write every day, and get better as an author.
This is what will land you the jobs. A piece of paper can’t do that for you.