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Screenwriter

Screenwriters write the stories for feature films, TV programmes and computer games.

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 variable

You could work: freelance / self-employed; managing your own hours

1%
Future employment

There will be 1% more Screenwriter jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • come up with themes and ideas
  • research background material
  • develop plots and characters
  • lay out the screenplay to an agreed format
  • prepare short summaries of your ideas
  • sell your ideas or ‘pitch' to producers
  • get feedback on your work from producers or script editors
  • rewrite the script before arriving at an agreed version
  • network with agents and producers
  • handle your own tax and accounts, if freelance

Working environment

You could work in an office, from home, at a film studio, at a TV studio or on a film set.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by private training providers
University

You could do a degree or postgraduate qualification to improve your job prospects, though this is not essential. Useful subjects include:

  • creative writing
  • English
  • media and communications
  • film studies
  • journalism
  • psychology

You should aim to get as much experience of reading other people's and writing your own scripts, alongside your studies. Your university careers service can also give advice on societies, work experience, internship and year placement opportunities that will help you build your creative network and develop your skills.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information
College

When you're starting out you may find it useful to take a college course to help develop your skills and understand dramatic structure. Courses are available in:

  • creative writing
  • scriptwriting

These are also often available as short courses in adult education centres and at some universities.

For more information
Direct application

If you want to get directly into this job, you may have an advantage if you have writing and storytelling experience from another field like journalism, advertising copywriting or acting.

You'll normally start by coming up with your own screenplays and ideas, and trying to sell them to agents and producers. Once you've had some work accepted and started to build a professional reputation, producers might then commission you to produce scripts for them.

Other routes

You could take short courses in screenwriting run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers.

More information

Career tips

As a new writer, you could get yourself noticed by entering screenwriting competitions. These competitions are run by broadcasters and regional screen agencies to discover new talent.

You can also find advice about submitting your work to the BBC at BBC Writers Room.

Create a Linkedin profile to connect with people in the industry and make sure you have a portfolio to show your skills.

Further information

You can get more advice on writing careers in film and TV from ScreenSkills.

You can get more information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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Most screenwriters are freelance so to develop your career you'll need to network widely in the industry.

You could combine screenwriting with other forms of writing work, teaching, lecturing or editing.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent written communication skills
  • persistence and determination
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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