£18,000 + per year
If you are creative, imaginative and have excellent writing skills, this job could be perfect for you.
Copywriters (often known in the advertising industry as 'creatives'), produce the written words or ‘copy’ for advertisements. This could be anything from slogans and text for printed ads and leaflets, to radio jingles and scripts for TV commercials.
In this job you would need to get a message across clearly and persuasively. As you will be promoting products or services, you will need good business sense. You will also need to be in touch with popular culture.
To get into this job, most employers will be more interested in your creativity and writing skills than specific qualifications. However, courses in advertising, marketing, journalism, English and media studies could teach you some of the skills you would need. This is a job where getting experience is very important, so work placements and volunteering can be very useful.
As a copywriter, you would work as a team with an art director, who would provide the visual images to go with your words. Your job would begin with a briefing about the client, their product, the target audience and the advertising message to be put across. Your work could then involve:
- creating original ideas that fit the brief (working closely with the art director)
- presenting ideas to the agency’s creative director and account team
- helping to present ideas to the client
- making any changes that the client asks for
- writing clear and persuasive copy
- making sure that ads meet the codes of advertising practice
- proofreading copy to check spelling, grammar and facts
- casting actors for TV and radio advertisements
- liaising with photographers, designers, production companies and printers.
You would often work on several projects at once, usually under the supervision of a creative director.
Your hours could vary – you would usually work Monday to Friday, but your days may often be longer than 9am to 5pm if you had deadlines to meet.
You would spend most of your time in the office, but you may also occasionally travel to meet clients or visit studios where advertisements are being made.
Starting salaries can be around £18,000 to £25,000 a year. With experience this rises to between £25,000 and £50,000 a year. Senior creatives in leading agencies can earn up to £100,000 or more.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Employers will usually be more interested in your creativity, writing skills and business sense than your formal qualifications.
However, advertising is a very competitive industry to join, so you may have an advantage with a qualification that includes some copywriting, such as:
- a foundation degree, BTEC HND or degree in advertising
- Communication, Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) Diploma in Marketing Communications.
Other useful courses include BTEC HNDs or degrees in journalism, English, media studies and marketing.
Most people get their first copywriting job as a result of work experience. This can give you the chance to make industry contacts and impress potential employers.
You could contact agencies directly to ask about placements, and make industry contacts through relevant groups on social networking sites. See the Work Experience section of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) website for more information and a list of member agencies. The IPA also runs a Graduate Recruitment Agency, and D&AD, an educational charity, runs a graduate placement scheme.
When looking for jobs, you will need to show a portfolio of your work (known as a 'book') to potential employers, as you will be employed on the strength of your creative ideas, versatility and writing ability.
If you join the IPA, you can also showcase the best of your portfolio online on their All Our Best Work website.
It's a good idea to team up with a would-be art director and work together on campaign ideas for your portfolio, as this can help prove your ability to fulfil a client's 'brief'.
D&AD offers information guides and a series of professional development programmes, such as Workout, aimed at helping people build a portfolio and to make contacts in the advertising industry. Visit the D&AD website for more details.
Visit the Diagonal Thinking website to find out if you have what it takes for a career in advertising.
Training and development
You would start as a junior creative in an advertising agency, and develop your skills on the job. In larger advertising agencies, you may be trained through a structured graduate scheme.
Your training may include the IPA Foundation Certificate, an online course for junior staff with at least six months’ experience in any area of advertising.
You should keep up to date with advertising industry news, developments and training throughout your career. See the IPA and D&AD websites for more details about professional development opportunities.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be an advertising copywriter you should have:
- creativity and imagination
- excellent writing skills, with the ability to express a message clearly and persuasively
- a good command of grammar, spelling and punctuation
- excellent communication and teamworking skills
- accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines
- resilience and the ability to cope with criticism of your work
- good business sense
- research skills, good general knowledge and awareness of popular culture.
Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)
44 Belgrave Square
Tel: 020 7235 7020
68-80 Hanbury Street
Tel: 020 7840 1111
Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation Limited (CAM)
Tel: 01628 427120
21 Caledonian Road
Creative Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900 (England and Northern Ireland)
Tel: 0845 850 2502(Scotland)
Tel: 08000 121 815 (Wales)
Advertising is a very popular career among graduates, and competition is strong. Most jobs are based in London and other major cities in the UK.
Jobs are advertised in the national and trade press, the IPA website and specialist recruitment agencies. However, not all jobs are advertised, so you could also approach agencies directly, or find work through making contacts in the industry.
With experience, you could progress to senior copywriter and creative director. You could also choose to work freelance.
You may find the following useful for job vacancies and further reading:
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