How to Become A Poet

Poets are responsible for writing different kinds of poetry verses, such as blank verse, free verse, limericks, haikus, tankas, and odes. They also work in collaboration with editors to refine and redraft written material ready for publication.

If all this sounds exciting to you, then you should consider launching a career in this field. Here is a detailed guide on how to become a Poet in the US.

Should I Become a Poet?

If you are skilled at using words to express experiences, emotions, and feelings, then you have a good chance at becoming a poet.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has not provided separate employment estimates for poets, therefore we will use the category of Writer and Authors as our point of reference. The table below provides detailed information on the career prospects and the salary data of these professionals.

Education Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Major Requirement



Recommended, though not mandatory


Internship experiences are recommended

Key Skills

Adaptability, Creativity, Critical-thinking Skills, and Writing Skills

Annual Mean Salary (2019)


Job Outlook (2018-28)

0% (Little or no growth)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Poets

It is predicted that there will be little or no change in the employment of Writers and Authors from 2018 to 2028. Since online publications are expected to grow, therefore the demand for these professionals, especially those having web experience, is also projected to grow. However, employment of Writers and Authors in the periodical publication and newspaper industry is expected to decline. This decline in demand will increase competition in the job market.

Writers and Authors who have a social media and online presence, and who are comfortable with working with digital and electronic tools will have an advantage in finding employment. The popularity of e-books and the low costs of self-publishing will enable freelance writers to have their material published.

Salary outlook and employment for these professionals also depends upon the state where they are working. For example, California had the highest employment level for Writers and Authors in 2019, with 7,840 jobs, followed by New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. In 2019, the top paying states for these professionals were District of Columbia ($103,980), New York ($91,280), California ($90,970), Connecticut ($82,750) and New Jersey ($80,690).

Steps to Become a Poet

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step is to obtain a four-year long Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in English. At the undergrad level, you have the option of specializing in a variety of fields such as Creative Writing, Literature, and Rhetoric and Composition. In order to graduate, you will be expected to complete around 120 academic units. The bachelor’s program will expose you to a number of interesting modules such as Theories of Writing and Literacy, Introduction to Poetry and Drama, Applied Composition, and American Literature.

Step 2: Participate in Poetry Contests and Attend Writing Workshops

During your undergraduate program, you should try to participate in poetry contests and writing workshops that are held on your university campus. You should also check with your local libraries and bookstores to see whether they have plans of arranging any writing events. You can also attend local mic nights at local bookstores and coffee shops, where you can meet different poets and see them perform.

Step 3: Consider Obtaining a Master’s Degree

The next step is to obtain a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Prose and Poetry, Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fiction and Poetry, or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in English and Creative Writing. Such programs will help you refine your prose writing and reading abilities with internship opportunities, traditional coursework, and a poetry thesis. The curriculum of the Master’s program will include modules such as Poetic Traditions across Cultures, 20th Century American Poetry, and Advanced Expository Writing.

Step 4: Get Certified

Certification is not mandatory for poets but it can show dedication and commitment, therefore you should consider getting one. Some associations, such as the American Grant Writers’ Association, offer the Certified Grant Writer credential to aspiring writers.

Step 5: Submit Your Work to Publishing Companies

The last stage involves compiling a portfolio of your written work. Once you have completed it, you can send your work to different publishing companies. You may also want to attach a cover letter along with your submission to tell the editors about your previous work.

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