Want to become a speechwriter? Step 1: Write speeches

You won’t start off penning soaring orations for heads of state and CEOs. You can find local officials and businesspeople, though, who need a wordsmith. Also, ask your own boss.

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I’ve been a professional speechwriter for more than a decade and have written for heads of state, international organizations and more than a few weddings and funerals.

Competitions and salaries for speechwriters are high—certainly higher than most writing gigs. Experienced speechwriters earn more than $100,000 annually.

Speechwriters also have the advantage of access: access to top decision-makers, access to those who shape policies and ideas, and access to people who want to change the world. It’s just a matter of getting your foot in the door.

Unlike most occupations, there’s no school that teaches speechwriting. There’s no place to trade your life savings for a piece of paper that will land you an unpaid stint as an intern. Although live and online speechwriting courses exist, there’s no Harvard for speechwriters.

At the risk of putting myself and my colleagues out of business, I’ll let you in on the big secret about how to become a speechwriter. Please keep this confidential, because it’s a huge secret:

Find somebody who needs a speech written, and write it for them.

The answer to your next question? Anybody who needs one.

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