writing degreeHave you always wanted to be a writer? Do you share stories with your friends who then in turn tell you, “You should make that into a movie or a book”? Of course, you could always just go off on your own and write the darn things, but then what? How do you know if they’re any good? Who can give you constructive criticism? Where can you get your work published? And most of all, can you get paid for your writing?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, then it may make sense for you to look into a degree in writing. In today’s world of global shared information organizations are always posting jobs on career websites for writers ranging from technical writers to research assistants. The scope is very broad, therefore you have decide what type of writing you want to do and then look for a program that is right for you.

Fortunately there are several good writing programs available online, where you can work at your own pace, completing your degree on your own timetable. Even though there are literally hundreds of jobs that require good writing skills, here are just a few online writing programs that offer a direct avenue to some of the more popular writing careers.

1) Technical Writing

Undoubtedly the most lucrative career in writing, technical writing is not limited to composing prose about engineering or computer science. Technical writing is simply the catch phrase used to describe documentation specific to any one industry, whether it be business, law, medicine, insurance, education, or anything that requires detailed knowledge. For example, if you were (or are) a professional in union labor, you could supplement your income by writing articles, blogs, or newsletters for any one of the hundreds of labor unions or professional groups that are out there.

Of course, even if you have an affinity for the written word, a degree in technical writing gives you credibility. According to the website DegreeDirectory.org, the top three online technical writing bachelor degree programs can be found at Kaplan University (which offers a BS in Communications), University of Phoenix (which offers a BA in English, a BS in Business Communications, and a BS in Business Culture and Communication), and Walden University, which offers bachelor business degrees in Communication, New Media, and Public Relations). With degrees such as these you could pursue a career as an editor, research analyst, grant writer, blogger, website content creator, business analyst, legal assistant, and of course, writer.

2) Journalism

Because the Web has created such a need for content, the need for online journalists has boomed in the last 10 years. As many newspapers have quickly discovered online journalism is a different animal than the articles you read in the paper, and therefore requires a distinct type of training. The nuances are subtle, however, the writers who grasp them are the ones whose online articles get read (and thus, get the jobs).

The website JournalismDegree.net cites the top three online journalism degree programs as University of Massachusetts, where you can hone your skills for careers in everything from travel writing to art reviewer to war correspondent; University of Phoenix, where you can get an AA or BA in Communications. This is particularly valuable in that the program focuses on communication technologies such as social networking, blogging, website design, search engine optimization, and trending; all of which are the lynch pins to getting your articles read in a sea of thousands of Internet article options. And finally, there’s Kaplan University, where you can earn a BS in Communication, with emphasis on tech media, psychology, sociology and research.

3) Creative Writing

If you’ve had a hankering to write the Great American Novel, then you might want to consider a degree in creative writing. Even though writing books is the least lucrative writing career (unless, of course, you become the next Stephen King or Daniel Steele), a degree in creative writing helps you get hired on as a essay blogger for specific industry magazines and websites (such as parenting, horsemanship, cooking, travel, photography, etc.). And even though you may not be able to earn your living writing articles and books, you could supplement your income nicely.

Since creative writing is a broad study there are more places than ever at which you can obtain your online degree. One of the most popular is UCLA’s Extension Writers Program, where you can obtain an online certificate in anything from creative writing to screenwriting, and be taught by some of the most noted professors in the entertainment industry.

If all you want to do is get your feet wet by taking a few writing courses to brush up your existing skills, the website DiplomaGuide.com offers a list of universities (ranging from University of Utah to MIT) that offer writing courses without the commitment of a degree. The website conveniently categorizes the courses by the type of writing you’re interested in learning, such as fiction, screenwriting, essay, editing, proofreading and more.

So if you’ve seriously been considering getting your thoughts down on paper, and having someone pay you for the opportunity to do so, a writing degree may just be what you need to help you get your foot in that door. After all, when considering a career change there no time like “write” now.

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