CHOOSING A CAREER / FEB. 08, 2015
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How to Become a Speechwriter in the US

John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill had two things in common: they were all great leaders and powerful orators. Much is known about them, but little is available about the brains behind their speeches or lectures. The job of these little-known guys is to craft speeches for leaders, politicians, top executives and other senior-level personnel. Read on to learn more about speechwriters.

What Do Speechwriters Do?

Their duties include:

  • Holding meetings with their employers to discuss the ideas or messages to be contained in the speech
  • Conducting some research to gather more information on the client’s specific audience
  • Drafting the speech and submitting to their clients for review
  • Reviewing client feedback and rewriting the speech as necessary, and editing it for grammar and consistency
  • Staying abreast of issues in various issues – Political speechwriters, for instance, should keep tabs on political issues and developments.

Work Environment

Speechwriters who have fulltime jobs usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. On the other hand, freelance writers have more control over their work schedules, and often hit the road to meet clients.

Salary

Speechwriters earn a median salary of $114,435. However, their salary can also be as follows:

Occupation

Annual Wage

Lowest earning speechwriters

$81,184 -$97,030

Highest earning speechwriters

$152,456 -$187,072

Source: Salary.com

Education and Training

Speechwriting is an art. So your artistic and creative abilities play an important role in helping you get started. However, to master grammar mechanics and styles, you must receive professional training.

You should, therefore, pursue a bachelor’s degree in speech communication or professional writing. Some of the institutions offering these programs include:

It is also possible to enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations or communications studies.

Upon graduation, you will be ready to put your abilities and professional knowledge to work!

Important Qualities

To be a sought-after speechwriter you need:

  • Exceptional writing skills
  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • A good level of creativity
  • The ability to meet strict time deadlines
  • The ability to take criticism positively
  • Self-confidence and motivation
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • The ability to manage your clients’ expectations
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Good critical thinking and research skills
  • Good computer skills.

Career Progression

In this profession, reputation and expertise are the key career progression tools. As a junior speechwriter, you will probably begin on a freelance basis, running up and down to find clients.

Once you get your first job, focus on delivering an original and informative speech. If the speech reader can win the hearts of his audience, you are definitely destined for great things!

As you continue to work, be sure to attend speechwriting workshops and seminars where you can interact with other writers, network and share ideas.

Many universities also offer graduate programs in professional writing, which you can pursue to improve your competence.

Job Opportunities

Speechwriters can find fulltime opportunities in:

  • Public relations firms
  • Large corporations
  • Political organizations
  • Communication consultancies

With a solid reputation and a strong portfolio, you could be hired to write speeches for top-level public figures, including the President! You could also establish your own firm that provides speechwriting services.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of writers will grow by 3 percent through 2022, significantly slower than the 11 percent average for all jobs. In addition, speechwriting is a small niche market with few clients. But if you have the skill, motivation and determination to make it to the top, there is nothing that can hinder you from reaching the six-figure salary highlighted above.

Want this career? Then you better nurture your passion for reading!

 

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