Proposal WriterJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Proposal writers draft documents aimed at persuading the reader or recipient to either support a particular project or enter into a business agreement.

Proposal writers specialize primarily in grant and business proposals. Grant proposals convince readers to invest, lend or donate to a project. Business proposals persuade recipients to buy a product or service or to enter into a business relationship. However, a wide variety of industries can — and do — rely on proposal writers’ services, including health care, film, finance, and sports.

A proposal writer must write factually and research thoroughly to convey accurate financial information persuasively. They need great organization and presentation skills to “sell” their ideas face-to-face.

Sample job description

We are searching for a proposal writer to join our team of writers at [Your Company Name] in creating engaging and persuasive proposals. A proposal writer is responsible for gathering information, formatting each proposal according to company guidelines, and obtaining approval before sending proposals out to sources. You must have excellent organizational skills, work well under deadlines, and be able to communicate effectively in writing. The perfect candidate for this position cares about facts and details as well as writing in a convincing manner.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Attend kickoff meetings to determine project scope
  • Help create project schedules and deadlines
  • Conduct research
  • Edit documents for accuracy and clarity
  • Incorporate feedback and revisions
  • Collaborate with graphic designers during layout
  • Present proposals to potential investors and business partners

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in journalism, english, mass communications, or a related field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to adhere to brand voice, tone, and style guidelines
  • Excellent organization and communication skills
  • Solid background in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Strong interpersonal and presentation skills
  • Ability to work on tight deadlines

Preferred qualifications

  • 8+ years of prior relevant experience
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a proposal writer is $77,750 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$77,300$104,600
Los Angeles, California$87,200$118,000
Denver, Colorado$72,650$98,350
Washington, DC$88,550$119,800
Miami, Florida$72,350$97,900
Orlando, Florida$66,750$90,300
Tampa, Florida$67,400$91,200
Atlanta, Georgia$70,700$95,650
Chicago, Illinois$81,250$109,950
Boston, Massachusetts$87,850$118,900
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$70,050$94,750
New York City, New York$92,500$125,150
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$75,350$101,950
Dallas, Texas$73,350$99,250
Houston, Texas$73,000$98,800
Seattle, Washington$84,550$114,450
National Average$66,050$89,400

Typical work environment

Proposal writers work in an office environment where they spend their time working alongside other writers to identify opportunities, research details, and draft proposals. The majority of a proposal writer’s time is spent at a desk, with the rest of their work consisting of presenting proposals to supervisors for approval.

Typical hours

The work hours for a proposal writer are typically from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours may, at times, be necessary.

Available certifications

Experience is often more important in the field of proposal writing than certification. If you are hoping to up your chances in getting hired, here are a few programs you can explore:

  • The Association for Proposal Management Professional Certification (APMP). The APMP offers four different levels of certification for those who wish to dedicate themselves to “the process of winning business through proposals, bids, tenders, and presentations” – Foundation, Practitioner, Capture Practitioner, and Professional. Through this certification, you show employers that you know how to use the best practices for proposal and bid management in order to succeed. To take the exam, you will need at least one year of experience in proposal writing, verified by a reference of your choice.
  • Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC). Technical communication is a broad field that covers communicating about technical or specialized topics, communicating using technological means, and providing instructions on how to do a technical task. By gaining CPTC certification, you verify that you are able to communicate effectively in writing. This certification is available at three levels – Foundation, Practitioner, and Expert – each with its own requirements.

Career path

Becoming a full-time proposal writer often begins by earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, english, mass communications, or a related field of study. Next, a candidate for this position is encouraged to earn certification with the Association of Record for Bid, Proposal, Business Development, Capture and Graphics Professionals (APMP).

Employers will want to see proven experience in proposal writing. Writing proposals as part of an internship, college coursework, or volunteer work for a nonprofit organization is a great way to assemble the portfolio required to fill these positions. Many proposal writers will work as freelancers to build their own client bases and strengthen their bona fides in their respective industries.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 27-3042

2020 Employment52,300
Projected Employment in 203058,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift6,100 increase

Private industries ebb and flow with the market, and federal agencies grow and shrink with their annual budgets. Strong research skills will remain crucial for proposal writers to become “instant experts” in the sector they’re currently working — and to be versatile enough to move between sectors when available funding funds dry up.

Speaking of versatility, learning cross-disciplinary skills will help proposal writers stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Working knowledge of graphic design and publishing platforms like Adobe InDesign can also improve proposal writers’ abilities to collaborate with their creative teams.

Sample interview questions

  • Tell me about the types of documents you have prepared in the past.
  • What are your methods for ensuring your writing is clear and consistent?
  • How would you rate your writing skills?
  • How do you organize, plan, and prioritize your work?
  • When gathering information from multiple sources, how do you decide what information is relevant? 
  • Describe a time when a presentation did not go as planned. What did you do?
  • What is your process for proofreading and revisions?
  • Tell me about a time when you successfully shared a difficult piece of information.
  • How would you handle juggling many different documents with different deadlines?
  • What process would you use to interview a subject matter expert?
  • Give me an example of a time when you worked within a group environment to complete a document and how you handled it.
  • What would you do if someone within a group was late with or didn’t complete their deliverables?

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