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This post presents common career paths for Grant Writers. Others in the series will present what Grant Writers do, where and when they work, the tools that they use, and the basic skills they need.


There is no single universal career path. What Grant Writers do before they become Grant Writers, and what they do afterwards, varies considerably. Many persons learn how to write proposals as volunteers. Many others do it as just one facet of their jobs. After writing proposals on-staff for a number of years, many Grant Writers become independent consultants; others migrate to other aspects of fundraising or move into grant and contract management positions.


Career Paths

There are almost as many ways to enter grant writing as Grant Writers. One among them is to volunteer for a human services organization. Another way is to take an undergraduate or professional development course and make job connections through it. A third way is to help someone else in writing one or more (hopefully funded) proposals. What comes as the next step after one has apprenticed as a Grant Writer also varies considerably.


Grant Writers may start out with one of several similar job titles. With years of experience, generally, their pay will move toward the upper ends of the ranges, so long as they remain in the same occupation.

  • Grant Writer: $32,858 to $64,738
  • Grants Specialist: $36,098 to $68,078
  • Grant Proposal Writer: $58,496 to $73,351
  • Proposal Writer: $39,661 to $74,959


Since grant writing is one type of fundraising, and since a Grant Writer needs to get broad overviews of client and employer organizations, some Grant Writers become fundraising generalists. Other Grant Writers move into executive leadership positions at non-profit organizations (NPOs):

  • Development Coordinator (at an NPO): $30,386 to $50,137
  • Development Manager (at an NPO): $36,268 to $65,667
  • Development Director (at an NPO): $39,387 to $97,48
  • Executive Director (at an NPO): $36,977 to $116,439
  • Chief Development Officer: $72,493 to $176,271


Some Grant Writers simply move on to more advanced, grant-focused roles. These roles often combine leadership and administration with the usual writing tasks. Such positions often involve more compliance monitoring, fiscal management, and fiscal accountability in the job’s duties and responsibilities. Among these positions are:

  • Senior Grant Writer: $48,848 to $80,000
  • Grants/Contracts Specialist: $38,786 to $68,641
  • Grants Director: $43,948 to $101,491
  • Grants Administrator: $39,213 to $76,827
  • Grants/Proposals Manager: $38,908 to $78,674


Other Grant Writers may be hired to work for one or more of their funded projects or for programs that include such projects. Typical management and administrative roles in such situations include:

  • Program Director/Principal Investigator: $34,400 to $82,426
  • Program Manager: $34,820 to $70,901


Sooner or later, many productive Grant Writers who start as internal employees will accept invitations to do some consulting. Some of them will set up shop formally as independent contractors on an ad hoc basis. Some of these same Grant Writers will become full-time consultants. Among such consulting roles are:

  • Training Consultant: $43,631 to $98,191
  • Program Evaluator: $36,452 to $82,127


All data reflect compensation in late 2016. Further information about what Grant Writers earn and their common career paths is at PayScale or eHow or Salary.


All factual material presented here is intended strictly for informational purposes only.


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