When you start something new, especially something that’s important to you, you want to make sure you start in the best way possible. That means, you want to make sure your job history and education are a good fit for it. You may even wonder if you need a degree for copywriting.
When it comes to getting into copywriting, there are a few things you might have in your background to make for an especially auspicious entry into the industry.
Let’s talk about what those are, shall we?
Common Copywriter Backgrounds & Education
First, let’s go over the education/experience/backgrounds that are common in copywriters and copywriting. I want to stress common because while many copywriters may share some of these experiences, they are NOT mandatory. These include:
- Liberal arts degree, especially in English, journalism, or creative writing
- Communications degree, especially in advertising, marketing, or public relations
- Experience working with interactive or print media
- Experience in marketing or advertising departments or agencies
Let me repeat: Those are some common backgrounds for copywriters, but not necessary. If you see your degree or experience on that list, you’ll fit in just fine with many people pursuing a copywriting career.
Comprehensive Copywriting Academy Students Come From A Variety of Backgrounds
Now, if you don’t see your degree or experience on the list above? That’s fine, too!
Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students from all different backgrounds have found success as copywriters. Listen to some of their stories right here >>
The CCA includes many former teachers who transitioned out of the classroom due to burnout. Similarly, there are numerous nurses in the group.
But there are also CCA students that come from a variety of other fields, too: military, truck driving, food service, social work, law, web development—name a field and there’s likely someone in the CCA who has been a part of it! And there are plenty of students who are full-time parents, too.
While there are some students who do come from a marketing background (PR, content writing, social media marketing), it’s absolutely not a must to thrive as a copywriter. These students are starting from the same exact place as you: not knowing how to write copy.
No matter what your background—personal or professional—you’ll be able to harness your experiences into your own unique USP.
Do You Need a Degree for Copywriting?
There aren’t (as far as we know of!) any degrees in copywriting specifically. You may be able to take a copywriting class as part of a marketing program, but there’s far more to copywriting than what can fit into a few weeks (it’s why we created an entire program!).
But you also do not need a degree for copywriting. It makes copywriting a much easier career transition than say becoming a doctor or lawyer. You don’t even need a copywriting certificate. Copywriting certificates only prove you paid for a course. Your online portfolio is what proves you know how to write copy.
You do, however, need training to become a copywriter. Copywriting is very different from content writing (though many copywriters take content writing projects, too) and requires an understanding of key concepts like features versus benefits, calls to action, and more.
What About Portfolio Schools?
Portfolio schools have a lot of benefits … but they also cost tens of thousands of dollars (one year of tuition can cost around $40,000!).
You can get all the same perks of portfolio school without paying a cool $40k. Here are five things to look for in a copywriting course.
Traits Needed to Succeed in Copywriting
Okay, so now we’re clear that degree for copywriting doesn’t matter (or at least are warming up to the idea … we know it’s different than a lot of fields!). But there are other, more specific, elements of experience that will make you an even better student of copywriting, copywriting intern, and, then, copywriting job candidate. And these are completely necessary:
- A love of words and a passion for how to use them well
- A willingness to push yourself outside of your comfort zone
- A drive to learn as much as you can, so you can put it to use as best as you can
- A willingness to go beyond what others are willing to do to build portfolios and get work (no templated cover letter or resume for you!)
- An ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes and imagine what they need to hear (not just what a boss tells you they need to hear)
- A desire to build an eye for good design, so that you and graphic designers can work together even better—you don’t need to know how to fix a design problem, but you need to learn when something just doesn’t work
- A dedication to deadlines and to having a reason behind every single word in your copy
- A willingness to work harder than anyone else (or, at least, harder than most people)
- A sense of humor (<– Okay, not exactly a necessity but, boy, you’ll get a lot further with it than without it!)
If you have all of the above elements in your personality/background, you’ll stand a much better chance of succeeding as a copywriter, no matter what your college major or—I’m going to say it—your work experience.
Why Copywriting Training Is Crucial
That said, though, as you’ve heard me say before: You need to get training. Just because you know how to write an article doesn’t mean you know how to write an ad. As with any career, there are specific techniques you need to know, not to mention steps within the actual ad development (and career development!) process.
Taking time to read and analyze ads will help, but it won’t take the place of training. Visiting a cockpit doesn’t qualify someone to walk into a hangar and say, “I’m ready to fly an airplane!,” right? (And that’s exactly why we created a training of our own.)
Remember, too, that creative directors have amassed years of experience and training—so they’re never, exactly, receptive to people who apply for work and say, “How have I learned copywriting? I didn’t need training—I’m just really good with words.”
Please understand that I’m not saying that you would do this. But this is actually a really common attitude among would-be copywriters…which gives you another edge. When your competition is people who haven’t gotten training, don’t even understand that they need it and, therefore, don’t know how to write ads, work with designers, and build their portfolios, guess who’s going to get the job? That’s right: You.
In this episode of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, Nicki and Kate dig deeper into how your unique background can actually help you as a copywriter and what skills you can acquire that will make you an even stronger copywriter.
What’s your background? What got you interested in getting into copywriting? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on December 1, 2023