Television writers across the country keep millions of Americans entertained and informed by creating scripts for news shows, soap operas, kids' programming, game shows and top-rated dramas such as Breaking Bad. Salaries vary depending on both the size of the market and the size of the media station. As of 2010, the median salary of TV writers runs between $38,000 and just under $107,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Writers earn their salaries by working diligently behind the scenes to ensure that TV programs come off with ease. Scriptwriters work hard to create the atmosphere of both comfort and reliability through their words, which are spoken by media personalities the audience is accustomed to hearing. Excellent writing and communication skills are necessary. Screenwriters must typically hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and many media outlets hire individuals with screenwriting, journalism or English degrees.
Duties for writers include writing scripts as well as teasers for specific shows, segments, commercials or infomercials. Screenwriters must possess good writing and editing skills, attention to detail, good grammar and punctuation skills as well as excellent organizational and research skills.
Salaries for writers range widely. Writer-producers like Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice -- can command over $5 million yearly, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, an entry-level writer in the heart of the Midwest can start as low as $28,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Entry level writers usually start in small markets with limited salaries, but many climb to bigger, higher-paying markets. The key to moving up is networking with media producers and executives and honing the writing craft.
Hollywood is the heart and soul of TV land; a television writer in Los Angeles averages $200,000 a year, according to the New York Times. Several large cities also offer lucrative news and local programming writing positions for wordsmiths. Competition is keen for the larger city markets such as Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Washington, DC, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.