How to Become a Grant Writer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a grant writer. Research the job description and duties as well as the education requirements and find out how to start a career in grant writing.

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Do I Want to Be a Grant Writer?

Grant writers create research proposals that request funding from various agencies. They might work for universities, for social service organizations, or in the healthcare field. Grant writers need a solid command of the written word to craft successful grant proposals. They often need to do research before writing such proposals.

Grant writers might work on a contract basis, allowing them to determine when and how much they want to work. They may also work from remote locations. However, job opportunities are not expected to increase much for any type of writer over the 2012-2022 decade - only about 3%, which is slower than the national average of 11% for all job sectors.

Job Requirements

Grant writers often have bachelor's degree in a field like communications or English, although any field emphasizing writing can give someone the skills to become a grant writer. Grant writers with degrees in business-oriented fields can also take specialized non-credit or continuing education courses to gain the necessary skills. The following table presents the fundamental criteria for working as a grant writer, as gleaned from a sampling of job postings on Monster.com:

Common Requirements
Degree Level A bachelor's degree required for most positions
Degree Field Any writing-intensive major, such as English, journalism, communications, or marketing
Experience Previous grant writing experience important to most employers
Computer Skills Good computer research skills; experience with productivity software
Key Skills Detail-oriented, communication skills, writing skills

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

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 abilities they need. A survey of open grant writer job listings on Monster.com in August 2012 suggested that studying journalism, public relations, or marketing could also provide useful qualifications for some positions.

Future grant writers might also earn degrees in English. English courses examine how words are used to convey ideas. The critical thinking and writing required in an English degree program prepares grant writers to craft well-written, successful proposals.

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, so the certificate programs are often offered at least partially online. In addition, some schools provide single classes for those who'd like a crash course on specific grant writing topics.

Success Tip:

  • Join an association for professional grant writers. Membership in a group for grant writers can allow an individual to gain access to more training and job opportunities. Additionally, one will be able to attend conferences a network with other grant-writing professionals.

Step 3: Get 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, many just ask for a bachelor's degree. An individual should seek out volunteer or internship work as a grant writer to gain experience while completing his or her degree. The more experience one can acquire during college, the better. If possible, one should also try to acquire experience writing grants in the industry in which he or she would prefer to work as a grant writer.

Step 4: Gain Industry Experience

In addition to grant writing experience, many employers look for grant writers who have familiarity with the industry that they are writing grants to fund. For instance, healthcare organizations want grant writers who understand the workings of the medical industry 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. This kind of familiarity makes it easier for writers to produce successful grant proposals.

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