College Degree vs. Copywriting Certificate: Which one is right for your copywriting career?
In the creative industry, school’s never out. We must constantly deepen our abilities and adapt to the latest trends. But lately, people have begun questioning the worth of the collegiate institution—especially in creative fields.
You certainly don’t need a degree to become a copywriter. But there’s a balance, right?
There’s something about writing that simply can’t be taught. With all the resources imaginable online, an aspiring copywriter can build their own “curriculum.” On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for structured learning, and the weight of a degree will always carry credibility.
In the end, you’ll choose your own path to copywriting glory. We’re here to help you see down the road a bit and consider the pros and cons of each option.
The pros of a college degree
Funnily enough, there’s no such thing as a copywriting degree. Copywriters come from an assortment of backgrounds, like English literature, philosophy, journalism, creative writing, even history.
These fields emphasize the practice of communication, of structuring information to lead readers to a definite conclusion. You’ll read and write a ton. From one-paragraph reactions to a text, to 30-page papers, you’ll practice researching and justifying your interpretation of a topic.
This is perfect practice for your future copywriting career. Just as your academic work will lead the reader from one idea to the next, so should your copywriting lead someone toward an action.
Experienced and knowledgeable professors will push your abilities and lead you to think dynamically. After all, writing is thinking—to write well is to think well. The traditional college track will put you in proximity with great minds that will inspire your own.
That’s not only true of professors. College provides you with a coterie of fellow students growing and learning together. This community is just as valuable as the knowledge itself.
The cons of a college degree
Before you enroll, seriously consider the cost of your degree. As of this writing, the average yearly cost of a four-year institution tops $30,000.
That’s not counting thousands of dollars in interest you’ll pay on student loans. Though most student loans are structured for a 10-year term, it takes the average college graduate over 21 years to pay off their loans.
Then there’s the cost of time. Though many universities offer online courses and night classes, you may still struggle to coordinate a traditional course load around your schedule.
Again, there isn’t an academic major for copywriting. No matter how much you excel in your studies, potential agencies and clients will see you as a novice. That paper you wrote on Martha Mitchell’s role in the Watergate scandal or your thesis on Moby Dick hardly count as portfolio pieces.
And you really will be a beginner again. Advertising copywriting is its own animal. Colleges frequently produce graduates with virtually no understanding of how to function in a real-world role. Your degree, though valuable, only proves you are teachable—not necessarily hireable.
If you envision a freelance career, you’ll have to learn the business side of your job entirely on your own. Without guidance, this might prove disastrous.
Finally, colleges rarely offer solutions for continued growth after graduation. Except for more school (and more debt).
The pros of a credentialed copywriting course
A body of work without a degree carries far more weight than a degree without a body of work. In fact, many hiring managers appreciate the initiative it takes to pursue the craft of copywriting outside the traditional college track.
Copywriting courses hone in on copywriting-specific skills in ways a university can’t. You’ll learn from successful copywriters who know what it takes to build skills that dazzle. The most valuable courses (like ours) structure this firsthand industry knowledge with proven education techniques to offer the best of both worlds. A copywriting certificate from such a course carries a lot of weight, because it’s bestowed by pros in the business.
Remember that tight-knit group of fellow academics you’ll meet in college? Upon graduating, they’ll follow their own paths, leaving you to pursue your copywriting career alone. Copywriting courses plug you into a creative community will help you grow, build a professional network, and find more opportunities.
Of course, copywriting courses tend to be far more affordable and allow you to learn on your own time. You’ll choose what you learn and build your toolkit as you see fit. Many courses give you insights in running your business, from finding new clients to setting your prices.
Most importantly, copywriting courses can help you build a portfolio from scratch. In fact, our ebook can help you get started right now.
In almost every way, copywriting courses answer the problems posed by a traditional degree. But this path has its pitfalls, too.
The cons of copywriting courses
There are literally tons of copywriting resources online, and many make promises that are simply too good to be true. That’s why we have a whole blog on what to look for in a copywriting course.
Many agencies and clients still put stock in a traditional degree, and they may use your lack of degree as an excuse to pay you less. However, they’d do the same to a college graduate without a body of work. As you continue taking courses and gaining credentials, you’ll have substantial justification to leverage better pay.
Pursuing your copywriting career outside of the collegiate structure requires you to manage yourself. It’s on you to impose rigor on your copywriting practice. But you’re not in it alone. At Content Workshop, we’re here to help you take the next step. Check out the Giggin’ Podcast to hear from our team about how they found success in their own journeys.
You’re gonna go far — why not go with us?
We built our EDU platform in partnership with veterans in the education field because we want you to succeed. Our Copywriting Course Bundle gives you tips on writing better, learning SEO, and much more. Not only will you learn these crucial skills, you’ll come away with a certificate proving to employers that you bring real value to the table.
Your copywriting career is waiting. We’re excited to help you get started.