Starting as a technical writer can be difficult. Although you have writing experience and job alerts ready on several job-seeking platforms, it can be daunting to land that initial opportunity.
Fortunately, many employers seek associate technical writers to help with daily tasks and work. Although the average salary and other pay factors might be lower compared to different job positions, it’s a fantastic way for writers to kickstart their careers.
But what exactly does an associate technical writer do, and what makes their job different from a general technical writer?
The article will explain in detail everything you need to know, such as the responsibilities, qualifications, average compensation, and benefits of an associate technical writer. Let’s start.
What is an Associate Technical Writer?
The associate technical writer helps other technical writers write technical documentation. As such, duties overlap, but the associate generally is less accountable for the final work.
For example, in a company that creates technical content for a job management platform, you’ll help make how-to articles, instructions, and papers that explain how users can get the most out of the job management technology.
Although it can seem obvious how any online service works, customers have a hard time learning new tech and adapting to the latest updates, even when it’s to their benefit. The technical writer’s job is to enhance the experience and make the product and its updates understandable.
As an associate technical writer, it isn’t your responsibility to develop plans and strategies to achieve better technical communication, but you will use the tools to achieve the goal. Since you’ll be helping other technical writers inside the company, the starting position is a great way to master technical writing skills and get an inside look at what being a great technical writer entails.
Remember that you don’t want to grab the first associate job opportunity that comes your way.
Technical writing is a highly specialized job, meaning you want to focus on a specific industry. For example, even a seasoned technical writer in healthcare will have trouble switching to technical writing in SaaS.
So before you apply, ensure you start your career right by applying for jobs that match your current knowledge and skill set.
Although this is the crucial difference between different tech writing jobs, there are some basic requirements every associate technical writer must meet.
Associate Technical Writer Requirements
Although a starting position, associate technical writer requirements can be similar to those for a regular tech writer. Depending on the company, there might be some unique ones to that business, but the general requirements are:
- Basic work experience in technical writing.
- Basic research skills and data gathering.
- Bachelor’s degree in writing, communications, or a tech writing certification.
- Verbal communication skills.
- Ability to meet deadlines.
Depending on the company, there will be additional requirements. For example, if you’re applying for the role of an associate technical writer in healthcare, you’ll need basic healthcare knowledge. The same goes for SaaS, the heavy machinery industry, etc. Most companies offer training and initial education as you start.
According to Data USA, if you’re not sure in what industries you can start your technical writing career, the most common ones are computer systems design, management, scientific & technical consulting services, and scientific research and development services.
Other ones include engineering, aerospace, and healthcare (including pharmaceuticals).
You can easily apply or set up a job alert for most positions online. If you want to find currently open positions and requirements, you can check the job hunting section.
Although some employers don’t show salary ranges or the base salary, don’t let it discourage you. If pay factors are crucial to you, you can determine if the job ticks all your checkboxes by contacting the employer directly.
Associate Technical Writer Responsibilities
Associate technical writer responsibilities aren’t too different from other technical writing jobs. You still have to deliver the same quality of work, handle data, write concise technical documentation, and possibly create a report or two.
Similar to requirements, responsibilities will differ between companies, but the basic duties are:
- Write and proofread different technical documents.
- Interview subject matter experts.
- Paraphrase complex technical documentation in user-ready copies.
- Work with product designers and engineers to create easy-to-understand how-to manuals.
- Report to senior technical writers.
The most common document types you will write are:
- How-to manuals
- Product proposals
- Training guides
- Technical reports
Remember that although technical writers usually write for end-users, you also need to write readable documents for your coworkers. Not everybody on the team has the necessary technical education. So it’s your job to maintain a transparent information flow. Although the marketing doesn’t have to understand the ins and outs of a product, they need to know how and why it is helpful. Without that basic knowledge, they can’t create effective marketing campaigns that attract new users.
Average Salary for Associate Technical Writer
Several factors impact both the average salary and base salary. Two main factors are the working industry and geographical location. Both salaries and bonuses can differ significantly from one city to another. For example, the average annual technical writer salary in Los Angeles is $81,854, while in New York City, it’s $84,220.
Accordingly, the best paying industries, according to Zippia, are software, pharmaceutical, and finance.
As an associate technical writer, you might have a lower base salary, and the average range (including bonus, but before taxes) is from $50,453 to $62,795.
Today, almost every modern company strives to be an equal opportunity employer, so there’s little concern for salary discrimination inside the technical writing industry.
Associate Technical Writer Resume Template
Same as your responsibilities and salary, your resume will vary depending on the industry you decide to work in. While you should customize the resume for every job you apply for, here are essential tips for creating a winner technical writer resume.
Start with Key Strengths
What many beginner job hunters forget is that every employer is looking for a solution to their problem. And that solution is potentially you. Instead of providing a general introduction, help the employer by starting with your key advantages. Do you have experience in a specific niche? Mention that first.
In case that you don’t have previous experience, start with your education so far. It can be anything, from formal college education to technical writing courses. You play with the cards you have, and you should show your hand from the get-go.
Although you should mention all your experience, don’t spend too much time talking about your experience as a tech writer for a software development firm if you’re applying for a position in a healthcare organization.
You can still talk about it (especially if you lack any other experience), but word it in a way that entices the employer. As a writer, your resume is also your portfolio. Your capability to focus on relevant information in a resume means doing the same with technical documents.
Imagine an employer discovering several grammar and vocabulary mistakes in your resume. They are hiring a writer, and they get a subpar resume.
Besides increasing your overall chances, proofreading your resume shows your willingness to deliver finished work instead of copies that require multiple back and forth.
If you enjoy creating copies that help customers use a product effectively, technical writing might be the job for you. General associate technical writer jobs focus on a specific niche. Although salary might be more enticing in one niche, always use your current knowledge as your career compass.
By chasing better salaries, you can quickly hit a dead-end if you lack the necessary knowledge. It’s preferable to start in a familiar niche and improve your technical writing chops there. By doing so, you’ll improve faster, you’ll land a promotion quicker, and end up with better compensation.
If you don’t feel ready, you can join online technical writing courses and get an official certification that will help you be more confident when the following job alert rings.
Here are the most frequently asked questions and answers about technical writing.
How long does it take to become a technical writer?
Generally speaking, you can become a certified technical writer and start job hunting with a bachelor’s degree (4 years) or a technical writing certificate which usually takes around six months to earn.
Where do technical writers usually work at?
Technical writers work in different industries, and the most common ones are software development, management, consulting services, science research, and healthcare.
What is expected of an associate technical writer?
An associate technical writer needs to write informative technical copies for the general public and coworkers. Although an associate technical writer is less liable for their work than the regular technical writer, they still have similar duties as any other technical writing job position.
If you are new to technical writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.