Technical writer essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $65,500
- 2011, number of jobs: 46,160
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 17 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Technical writers; what they do:
Technical writers guide people through the process of performing or completing something for the very first time. Technical writers create instruction manuals for complex and technical information with in the intention of making it significantly easier to understand. A technical writing career includes gathering technical information from customers, designers, and manufacturers.
In order to properly perform their writing tasks, technical writers must fully understand what the end result should be, which usually includes in-depth conversations with product designers and developers. In their efforts to keep directions as simple as possible, technical writers sometimes find ways to simplify a product or make it easier to use.
A technical writing career includes deciding which pictures, drawing, graphs, diagrams, or charts should accompany their directions to help readers. Technical writers must adjust their text to reflect updates or changes to a product.
Technical writers work with a variety of other occupations, including technical support staff, liability specialists, customer service managers, engineers, scientists, computer specialists, and software developers.
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Technical writers job titles:
- Documentation Designer
- Documentation Specialist
- Engineering Writer
- Expert Medical Writer
- Information Developer
- Narrative Writer
- Senior Technical Writer
- Technical Communicator
Technical Writers Education, Certification and License Requirements
A technical writing career may begin with a college degree, usually a Bachelor of Journalism, Bachelor of English, or Bachelor of Communications degree. Most employers seek technical writers with work experience in a technical field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Knowledge of, and experience with, web design is also a huge advantage when job seeking.
Technical writer programs cover subjects such as:
- Technical writing standards
- Business writing
- Document creation
- Project management
Technical writers don’t need certification or a license, but certification is available on a voluntary basis. Technical writers can earn the title of Certified Professional Technical Communicator through the Society of Technical Communication.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
Technical writers usually have career advancement opportunities in the form receiving more complex projects, training junior staff, or becoming a successful freelancer.
Technical Writers Job Outlook
Forecast: 17 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for technical writers, on par with the average for all occupations.
An increase in the number of scientific and technical products entering the market increases the demand for technical writers. Companies increasing their on-line product support may create more jobs for technical writers.
Technical writers can expect to continue seeing jobs in their usual industries; professional, scientific, and technical services firms as well as new industries with the increasing technical product market.
Technical Writers Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $65,500
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $83,190
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $49,910
Technical Writers Major Employers
- Computer systems design and related services
- Architectural, engineering, and related services
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
- Software publishers
- Scientific research and development services