What is the Proposal Writer Career Path?
There are multiple roads in a proposal writer's career path. The article provides a detailed explanation of the proposal writer's career path, so you don't stray from the most optimal road for you.
We start with responsibilities and finish with opportunities that will arise as you progress to higher positions such as proposal coordinator or a proposal manager. If you're interested in learning more via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.
What is the Proposal Writer’s Career Path?
A proposal writer is a unique career route, even as an entry-level position. Unlike other entry-level jobs, such as a technical writer, proposal writers get a comprehensive overview of a company, its products, and services.
The process requires that you know the ins and outs of the industry, build relationships, and work with different teams inside the company, such as product and creative teams. This is also why companies are on a constant lookout for proposal writers.
If you're jumpstarting your career, here are the basic requirements for a proposal writer.
- Bachelor's degree in communication, English, or related field.
- Preferred experience in proposal writing.
- Advanced knowledge of content creation software.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Attention to detail and meeting deadlines.
- Credible proposal writing certification.
Although not strictly necessary, you'll want to check and possibly get one of the APMP certifications.
After you become a proposal writer, you'll gain additional skills that will make it easier for you to determine where you want to take your career.
One of the first is that you'll write different proposal types. Depending on which you specialize, you'll need to learn additional skills.
In your career, you'll get a lot of job opportunities. While it's tempting for writers to take on as many projects as possible, it is better to specialize first. Otherwise, you'll end up overdoing yourself, which often results in average work.
Specialization can come organically while working for different companies or making a conscious decision. Here are general proposal types that can help you better understand where you want to go as a proposal writer.
- Internal - An internal proposal is a document for internal company purposes to propose a change, such as a new management process.
- External - The most common proposal type, these documents include any form of business relationships such as grants, sales, or project bidding.
- Solicited - A subcategory of external proposals. Companies send solicited submissions as a direct response to a request for proposal.
- Unsolicited - Opposite of solicited proposals, unsolicited are propositions companies send to an organization without initial request.
Once you start writing different proposals, you'll get promotion opportunities for the next step in your proposal writing career.
Different Proposal Writing Jobs
Depending on your past performance, there are several roads you can take. Some proposal professionals stick to writing, while some become proposal management professionals. Here's a list of different roles:
- Senior proposal writer
- Proposal coordinator
- Proposal manager
- Proposal director
Senior Proposal Writer
Many proposal writers want a better salary but prefer keeping current duties. These writers focus on becoming senior proposal writers. Although similar, you gain more responsibilities as a senior proposal writer inside the proposal team.
Here are the main duties if you move to the senior position.
- Write clear and engaging proposal sections.
- Review and rewrite proposal sections.
- Interview subject matter experts and collect data.
- Stay on top of the latest proposal trends.
- Work (and lead) other proposal team members.
The senior position is the most similar to the starting position of a proposal writer. The main difference is that other proposal writers will come to you for advice. Although you're not a proposal manager, you can still expect tasks where you help less-experienced writers.
You can become a proposal coordinator if you feel like you have a great job outlook and oversee proposals. Instead of writing, you'll focus on ensuring a streamlined process.
Creating a proposal includes many moving parts, so proposal coordinators need to set up and maintain a productive work environment.
Here are the main proposal coordinator responsibilities.
- Coordinate the proposal team and the RFP flow.
- Understand proposal requirements and ensure the proposals meet the requirements.
- Create proposal templates and provide feedback.
- Communicate across different teams and with other organizations (such as government agencies).
Although a proposal coordinator is responsible for coordinating the project, they aren't product managers. Although they oversee team members, they focus on ensuring an optimal working field.
If you're more for managing other writing, becoming a proposal manager is a natural choice. It's arguably the most fast-paced job. You work with teams outside the core proposal team, such as marketing and graphic designers. Furthermore, you're involved in every step of the process.
Unlike writers and proposal coordinators, proposal managers work from step one, meaningprimary deciding to bid or not to bid. Primary proposal manager responsibilities are.
- Discuss and decide to engage with a proposal or not.
- Identify the client's needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Create proposal plans.
- Oversee proposal writing team, marketing, and competition research.
- Submit completed proposals.
- Report to the executive team.
The proposal manager job is the furthest job from what you initially start in entry-level positions. As such, it often has more extensive requirements. For example, instead of a bachelor's degree, it's better to have a master's degree.
Although confused, a proposal director and proposals manager isn't the same job. While proposal managers work exclusively on proposals, it's possible for a proposal director not even to manage specific projects.
A proposal director oversees all projects on a company level. They set the most optimal standards, define proposal structures, and are crucial for quality assurance.
Although the director's responsibilities depend on the company, here are the main duties.
- Lead proposals on the company level.
- Oversee leadership with proposal managers.
- Create and maintain an optimal proposal strategy.
- Manage meetings.
Directors have different duties across different companies. In some examples, the role is between a proposal manager and an executive, while in other instances, a director never works on a specific project.
How to Ask for a Promotion?
As you grow, you'll take on more duties. The more work you do, the bigger the impact you'll leave on the company. But when to ask for a promotion and how to ask?
You should consider moving up in your career when you take on more tasks. Check your original job description. Do you have duties that aren't part of your job description? A significant bump is if you currently have management or leadership duties.
But just because you feel like you should get a promotion doesn't mean you'll get one. Here are tips for asking for a promotion.
First, express interest. This sets up the field and plants the idea in your manager's ear. Depending on your relationship, you should approach it informally without demands.
The next step that you can do is inform yourself about possible coworkers leaving their position. Depending on the company's size, you'll have to ask directly.
Finally, you should simply ask. The essential element to remember is that you shouldn't expect your boss to come with the promotion to you. Although possible, being proactive is a better action.
If you are taking on more duties and benefiting the company, there should be no discussion about the promotion.
Average Proposal Writer Salaries
If you're starting as a proposal writer, you can expect an average salary of $51,134 per year.
As you move up the ranks, your salary will go up as well. An average proposal coordinator salary is around $65,000. However, not a significant bump, the proposal coordinator role does open doors to new responsibilities and is an excellent segue towards more senior positions.
Although the average salary for a proposal manager is $75,000 per year, according to Zippia, it can go as high as $116,000.
Finally, the average proposal director's salary is $135,831 per year.
The proposal writing career is full of bumps, just like any other profession. Unlike regular articles, creating proposal content requires a unique mixture of hard and soft skills. You need to know how to write, use software and be creative, but you also need to have great people skills to get the information you need even to start devising proposals.
No matter at what point in your career you are right now, there's always room to grow. As long as you don't stagnate or give up, you're in the game. In other words, you're on the right career path. We wish you all the best.
Read the most frequently asked questions for proposal writers.
What does a proposal writer do?
A proposal writer is a professional who creates proposals that help companies and other organizations to reach their goals. The goal can be a grant that allows further business development, a professional partnership with another company, or landing a project when a business publishes a request for a proposal.
What makes a good proposal writer?
A good proposal writer is someone who spends more time researching than writing. They know the relevant questions they need to ask to get the information that makes developing a proposal simple. Often, clients don’t know what they need for a great proposal. It's the writer's job to get the information from them.
If you are new to proposal writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Proposal Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a proposal and how to write winning proposals.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.