If you are an aspiring screenwriter, odds are you have heard of the Writer’s Guild of America. As America’s most prestigious professional association of writers, a WGA membership is not granted freely. So how do you join the WGA and how easy is it? To be eligible for a WGA membership, you must meet specific requirements. In this article, we’ll discuss the primary types of WGA memberships and WGA requirements for eligibility.


What is the WGA?

The WGA stands for the Writer’s Guild of America. As stated on their website: “We are the Writers Guild of America (WGA), a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write the content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and mobile phones (new media) that keep audiences constantly entertained and informed.”

Writer’s Guild of America is present on both coasts both WGA West and WGA East.

Benefits of Joining the WGA:

  • Residuals
  • Minimum salary 
  • Credit protection 
  • Pension for employment
  • Healthcare for employment

How to Join the Writers Guild America

How do you join the WGA

So, how you go about WGA will depend on what type of WGA membership you are looking to get. There are two primary types of WGA memberships: current membership and associate membership.

1. Current membership

Current members gain access to the basic benefits of the WGA such as contractual protections, minimum salaries, residual payments, creative rights, pension and health benefits, education opportunities, and general strength in the writer’s bargaining process. 

A current member also has access to the right to run for Guild office, participate in Guild activities, vote in Guild elections and contract votes, and attend Guild meetings. 

Eligibility: To be eligible for a Current membership you must have a minimum of 24 units (we’ll explain the unit schedule later) within the three years prior to your application. Once these requirements  are met, a Current membership costs an initiation WGA membership fee of $2,500.

Dues are also paid per quarter and are calculated as 1.5% of gross writing income, plus $25. How do you join the WGA if you do not meet these requirements? You might want to look into the associate membership.

2. Associate membership

An Associate membership is primarily given to those who don't qualify for a Current membership, but pay an annual fee to access certain Guild services. 

These services include Guild communications, publications, mailings, the Guild’s Script Registration service at a reduced rate, access to screenings at the Writer’s Guild theatre, become members of a credit union, and access to any employment access program administered by the WGA. 

WGA requirements and eligibility: To be eligible for an Associate membership, you must have had writing employment and/or sales with a “signatory” company. You must also have less than 24 units in the 3 years preceding your application. Once you meet these requirements, you are eligible for a three year Associate WGA membership fee costing $100 per year.

WGA Requirements

How units are measured

So you’ve decided that you are looking to become a full Current member of the WGA. How do you join the WGA and know how many units you have? The WGA has listed a schedule of units that breaks down how many units every type of writing work is worth. 

If you work as a screenwriter, here is a basic breakdown of the types of work on feature length screenplays and what each one is worth in units. 

Employment to write a screenplay = 24 units

Purchase of a screenplay = 24 units

Rewrite of a screenplay = 12 units

Polishing a screenplay = 6 units

For writers who are employed for durations of time, the WGA also grants units based on time working within the Guild's jurisdiction. Two units are acquired by a writer per week of employment within the Guild’s jurisdiction, for example. 

For more information and resources on the WGA schedule of units, how do you join the WGA, or WGA benefits, visit their website at www.wga.org

Up Next

How to Become a Paid Screenwriter 

Is becoming a professional screenwriter your dream job? Don’t let the redundancy and confusion of all the screenwriting articles out there overwhelm you. We’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide on how to become a paid screenwriter. Learn more about screenwriting and what it takes to break into the business in the next article.

Up Next: How to Be a Paid Writer  →
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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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