Many people believe that if you want to be a freelance writer you should get a degree in communications, journalism, or creative writing, but this is an overly narrow assessment of the field. Restricting writers to these majors would eliminate some very talented professionals.
Freelance writers can actually come from a range of fields, a certain niche might demand skills that those rooted in communications or journalism may not have, such as engineering knowledge or statistics. Rather than pigeonhole writers into these few majors, we would all do well to consider the many paths to a writing career.
The most important thing you can do is demonstrate your expertise, clarity, and dedication.
Profitable niches based on college majors
Know Your Numbers
For many freelance writers, assignments that require handling numbers or analyzing mathematical data are the most intimidating. That’s because, while many have taken basic math courses at college level, a lot of writers don’t consider themselves “math people” – that’s why they became writers, isn’t it?
Unfortunately for these writers, with data’s dominance in marketing and the emphasis placed on statistical proof, these assignments are becoming more prominent.
Many sociology majors, for example, are excellent freelance writers because they study both quantitative and qualitative analysis. They tend to be flexible due to their experience studying cultural competency, and have excellent communication skills. They may also have studied SQL or other data analysis programs. Combining these talents together, sociologists have brought great insights to the field of freelance writing, along with their numeracy skills.
Speaking the Legal Language
Another major that can benefit freelance writers is political science, or other government-related fields, such as pre-law. That’s because these are fields that place a high priority on knowing the jargon – you can’t succeed as legal writer, for example, unless you understand the language used in the courts and can analyze legislation and court decisions.
Even when writing for a lay audience, you’ll need to understand the original documents that you’ll be interpreting and be able to put them in plain language, using clear examples. This clarity is important if you want those without a background in the field to understand the content of your writing.
Again, political science is a great field for a niche freelance writer because, although it isn’t the primary skill, communications is central to such a major. Political science majors are very astute when it comes to using language as a point of influence and handling conflict-heavy topics with tact and intelligence. Though most people consider these to be the skills of a negotiator, not a writer, any professional writer can tell you that the two fields are actually quite similar.
Technical writing is a major component of the freelance field, so those with knowledge of the natural sciences and engineering are in high demand. Writers with majors in these fields often work on assignments such as material analysis, constructing and engineering specifications, and computer and technology topics. There’s also a growing audience for popular science writing that individuals with such majors may find work in.
Related: Technical Writing–Seven Challenges
As with those who do legal writing or work with numbers, the ability to translate scientific information into layman’s terms is a valuable skill with high market demand, so don’t rule out writing as a career just because you’re a scientist. Those who understand these technical issues have a vital role in the field.
Writers come from all walks of life and are passionate about many different topics, but what makes freelance writing such a rewarding career is that it allows you to pursue your interests while sharing them with others. As you consider the next step in your education and professional development, don’t eliminate writing, simply because it’s not your field of study.