How to Become a Grant Writer: Education & Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a grant writer. Read about the steps involved that will help qualify you for grant writing jobs, including degree programs and industry experience.

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What Does a Grant Writer Do?

Grant writers create research proposals that request funding from various agencies. They might work for universities, social service organizations or in the healthcare field. Grant writers need a solid command of the written word and efficient research skills to craft successful grant proposals. They usually work on a contractual basis, allowing them to determine their own schedules. They may also work from remote locations.

What Are the Grant Writing Career Requirements?

So now that we've answered the question, 'what is grant writing?', let's go over the basic career requirements.

A bachelor's degree is required for most grant writing positions and a writing-intensive major, such as English, journalism, communications or marketing, is often pursued by aspiring grant writers. Previous grant writing experience is important to most employers. Additionally, these professionals should be detail-oriented, possess good communication and computer research skills, and have experience with productivity software.

According to 2020 data gathered by PayScale.com, the median grant writer salary is $48,330 per year.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Any writing-intensive major such as English, journalism, communications or marketing
Experience Previous grant writing experience important
Key Skills Detail-oriented; communication, writing, and computer research skills; use of productivity software
Salary $48,330 (2020 median for grant writers)

Source: Payscale.com

How Do I Become a Grant Writer?

In this next section, we're going to show you how to become a professional grant writer. The first step in a grant writer's career path is pursuing postsecondary education.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While specific grant writing degree programs do not exist, grant writers require excellent communication skills to create compelling grant proposals that result in funding for a project. Any undergraduate program that involves heavy use of writing and persuasive tactics gives grant writers the ability to practice this skill. Aside from the writing aspect, other coursework can add to grant writing education. These are classes that provide other useful skills needed to qualify for this type of position. Some of these classes are in journalism, public relations, marketing, and English.

Step 2: Take Courses in Grant Writing

Some colleges and universities offer certificate programs in grant writing, which cover beginning, intermediate and advanced proposal writing, as well as identifying potential sources of grant funding for a project. These professional development certificates are designed to help novice and current grant writers attain a strong set of skills they can immediately put into practice. These certificate programs are often offered at least partially online or as individual classes designed as crash courses on specific grant writing topics.

Step 3: Acquire Grant Writing Experience

Most employers require a minimum of two years of grant writing experience. This is the case for even part-time and temporary positions. In fact, prior experience seems to be more important than the discipline in which an individual has earned a degree. Although some employers may specify degrees in a certain field of study, such as journalism, most only require that candidates have a bachelor's degree. To acquire the experience needed to gain employment, individuals should volunteer or complete internships in the field, preferably in the industry they hope to work, while completing their degree program. The more experience acquired during college, the more opportunities for employment post-graduation.

Step 4: Gain Industry Experience

In addition to grant writing experience, many employers look for grant writers who have familiarity with the industry in which they are writing grants to fund. For instance, healthcare organizations seek grant writers who understand the workings of the medical industry, which can be gained through professional or volunteer work. Colleges and universities prefer grant writers with higher education industry experience. Many grants fund projects for nonprofit organizations and those organizations prefer grant writers who have worked with nonprofits in other capacities. For instance, as fundraisers or publicists. Familiarity with a specific industry makes it easier for writers to produce successful grant proposals.

Step 5: Join a Professional Association

Membership in a group for grant writers can allow an individual to gain access to more training and job opportunities. It also allows individuals to attend conferences and network with other grant-writing professionals.

Grant writers typically have a bachelor's degree, and at least two years of writing experience is a common minimum requirement.

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