£18,000 + per year
Copywriters or '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. If you are creative, imaginative and have excellent writing skills, this job could be perfect for you.
You’ll be using your written communication skills to get your message across and catch people’s attention. A good business sense and a good understanding of the advertising industry will help you write successful advertising campaigns.
Most new advertising account copywriters have a degree. Personal qualities are also very important and employers will be looking for people who have an interest in advertising and have excellent communication skills. You could also get into this job through a Higher Level Apprenticeship.
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 they want to get across. Your work could then involve:
- working with the art director to create original ideas that fit the brief
- 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 words
- making sure that ads meet the codes of advertising practice
- proofreading copy to check spelling, grammar and facts
- working 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 work could involve writing copy for a range of different types of advertising media. This could include:
- usocial media
- mobile marketing
Working hours and conditions
You would usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Your days could be longer if you have deadlines to meet.
You would spend most of your time in the office. 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 £70,000 or more.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
There is no fixed entry route into this job. Many new advertising copywriters have a degree. You can also get into this job through a Higher Level Apprenticeship. Some advertising agencies may also consider your application if you don’t have a degree. You’ll need to show off your creativity, writing skills and business sense.
If you wish to study towards a degree the following subjects could be useful:
- creative writing
- communication studies
Many advertising agencies value the diversity that graduates from other subject areas bring. It could be possible to enter this job with a degree in an unrelated subject such as law or biochemistry.
Experience is very highly valued by employers. It will also help you to get a better understanding of the industry and allow you to meet new people and build up contacts. Your network of contacts may help you to find longer term paid work in advertising later on. You could try:
- work experience
- temporary employment.
The AdMISSION website has a list of agencies that may offer graduate schemes, work experience or internships.
You could contact agencies directly to ask about placements, and make industry contacts through relevant groups on social networking sites like Twitter or LinkedIn. See the Work Experience section of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) website for more information and a list of member agencies.
As well as having a presence on social networking sites you could showcase your creative and communication skills to prospective employers through your own blog or website. You’ll also need to develop a portfolio or ‘book’ of your work to show potential employers.
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.
You may be able to get into this job through an Advertising and Marketing Communications Higher Level Apprenticeship. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and types of skills employers need from their workers. Visit the Creative Skillset and Apprenticeships websites for more information.
Check out the IPA website to see if you’re suited to 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.
You may also be able to work towards qualifications offered by professional bodies such as the IPA or Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM). Courses are offered at different levels depending on your current qualifications and amount of experience. Courses include:
- IPA Foundation Certificate
- IPA Advanced Certificate
- IPA Excellence Diploma
- CAM Diploma in Marketing Communications.
Visit the bodies' websites for more information about courses and entry criteria.
You can also take short courses, and attend events and workshops to help keep your knowledge and skills up to date. See the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Account Planning Group websites for details.
You may also wish to join organisations like the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS). NABS aim is to support anybody working in advertising and media. They offer advice, support and career guidance including networking events and training sessions.
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
- good 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)
Tel: 020 7235 7020
National Advertising Benevolent Society
Tel: 020 7840 1111
Account Planning Group
Tel: 020 8858 0707
Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation Limited (CAM)
Tel: 01628 427 120
Creative Choices (Careers)
Creative Skillset (Young creative talent)
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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