While you may find plenty of writers on the internet willing to write content of all forms at different prices, it’s hard to find technical writers. Technical writing requires a certain amount of knowledge, and it’s hard to find a good mix. Therefore, the technical writer salary is higher than the salaries of average writers.
The problem is that it’s hard to find someone who has the technical knowledge and adequate writing skills. As a result, most people go for writers who have an extremely good sense of the subject, great research skills, and the ability to translate complicated text into understandable sentences.
In this article, we’ll go over the average technical writer salary, along with their duties, responsibilities, and the path to become the ideal technical writer.
Let’s get started.
Who is a Technical Writer, and What Do Technical Writers Do?
Technical writers are content writers that have the technical knowledge of a specific subject and can write detailed technical content on it. In some cases, technical writers are also known as technical communicators.
Technical writers can be tasked with various technical writing duties ranging from preparing instructions manuals to writing full-blown how-to guides. They may also be asked to write journal articles, supporting documents for research papers, and other technical documentation.
Their primary role is to convert technical jargon and nomenclature into bite-sized and mass-consumable information.
If a technical writer is working for an organization, they would also have to develop, monitor, gather, and disseminate technical information through the right communication channels. That is true for internal and external communications.
Technical writer employees at organizations may have the title technical writer, but they may also work as software engineers, data analysts, business analysts, project managers, software developers, product designers, or even product managers. It may also work in reverse, where all those people also have to work as technical writers for the organization.
Meanwhile, other organizations tend to hire subject-specific writers, such as medical writers. In any case, technical writers may have to offer technical support for technical products, assist in social media marketing, and help with business development.
Technical writers may also work with product liability specialists, customer service managers, and user experience experts to improve the end-user experience of products. If they’re not well-versed in a subject, they may work closely with people who are to develop better technical content for the customers.
Other technical writers may write technical content for online websites, research institutions, and more. In any case, technical writers need to have a strict understanding of how to mix text, images, graphics, sounds, and even video.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities of a Technical Writer
In any case, the typical duties and responsibilities of a technical writer depend on the industry, organization, or position they are in.
However, on average, a technical writer has the following responsibilities and tasks to care of.
- Monitor, examine, and determine the needs of the users of the technical documentation of any product.
- Work with technical staff, experts, and product managers to make products easier to use with the least amount of instructions.
- Study different product samples, designs, and prototypes and discuss any details with the product developers and designers.
- Research, write, and organize different types of content for products.
- Make use of easy-to-grasp images, diagrams, animations, drawings, and charts to relay the message better. Anything that can help increase the final user’s understanding of the product and text helps.
- Select the writing medium for the message, including the ideal audience. For example, the technical writer has to research whether the users would want written manuals, online videos, or any other form of content.
- Standardize all the content across various platforms, media, and online sites.
- If relevant, monitor and gather user feedback and use it to modify, adjust, and improve the content. At times, it may be used to update current content; in other cases, it may be used to develop better content in the future.
- Revise and edit any content, depending on any updates, issues, or other factors.
The exact duties, tasks, and responsibilities of technical writers will always vary under different circumstances. However, the responsibilities and duties listed above are usually included in most job descriptions of technical writers.
What is the Average Technical Writer Salary in the United States?
The technical writer position is a full-time job in most organizations; however, some organizations may hire technical writers in contractual or part-time positions. Meanwhile, some companies prefer hiring freelance technical writers. In any case, technical writer jobs tend to be slightly different depending on the company and industry. You may find several related jobs with alternate job titles that have the same job description.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average technical writer makes around $76,860 in the United States. According to their database, there are over 50,000 technical writer jobs across the US that are currently recorded. The highest annual average salary for technical writers is in the computer science industry, followed by management, technical consulting, and employment services.
Therefore, technical writers working in STEM-related companies tend to earn more due to the higher requirement of complex technical knowledge.
In any case, it’s best to look at a few other sources to understand how much a technical writer makes, according to anonymous individual salary reports.
Glassdoor is a renowned website where you can find several salary estimates and reviews. Employees can upload anonymous annual salary reports, reviews their employers, enter benefits information, cost of living estimates, and total compensation numbers.
According to Glassdoor, the national average base salary for technical writers is $57,282. The average salary range is between $42,000 and $79,000.
Furthermore, Glassdoor lets you check different salary estimates by adding more filters. You can make a more precise search by adding the following filters.
- Choose the industry you’re in or the industry you would like to know about.
- Enter the estimated size of the company according to the total number of employees.
- Enter the total years of experience in the position.
Adding the filters above will make your search more refined and give a better estimate of the technical writer salary according to your needs.
Most compensation data is calculated using the salary reports entered by people. However, some companies also include their salaries at times.
You can also find the estimated salaries of related jobs, such as the senior technical writer.
In any case, you can get one of the best estimates of the technical writer salary by using the filters on Glassdoor.
Indeed is one of the biggest job-search engines that is used by millions of people in the US alone. However, it’s also a great place to find good salary estimates based on the thousands of jobs posted on the website.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a technical writer in the United States is $57,456. Furthermore, technical writers can get approximately $2,000 in cash bonuses through additional cash compensation over the course of a year.
The site also displays the most common benefits companies offer to technical writers. Some of the most common benefits given to technical writers include referral programs, health insurance, disability insurance, AD&D insurance, and 401k matching.
Indeed also shows you what cities offer the most salaries to technical writers. The highest-paying cities include San Diego, Washington, DC, Dallas, Austin, and New York.
Lastly, you can set up new job alerts based on specific salaries. Therefore, you’ll only get job alerts for technical writer jobs with a specific technical writer salary or above.
PayScale is a dedicated website for getting salary data, estimates, total compensation values, and information on the typical benefits provided. The site also offers cost of living estimates, gender-based pay estimates, and other pay-related information.
According to PayScale, the average median salary for technical writers in the US is $60,529. That brings the average hourly rate to $24.99.
Furthermore, technical writers can also earn up to $2,510 in bonuses and up to $1,979 through profit-sharing.
The average pay range for technical writers is between $42,000 and $87,000.
PayScale also shows what states offer the most pay to technical writers. You can earn the most in California and Massachusetts as a dedicated technical writer. Furthermore, the highest-paying cities for technical writers include Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and Houston.
What’s the Roadmap to Becoming a Technical Writer?
A technical writer isn’t necessarily an entry-level position. Most recruiters prefer that the candidate has some prior writing experience or product experience.
In any case, becoming a technical writer usually goes about with the following roadmap.
- Get a high school diploma, GED, or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Having a degree related to your industry helps as you are bound to have more technical knowledge.
- Have some experience in content writing. If your job description calls for writing manuals, it’s best to have prior experience with it.
- Get online certifications to develop a better understanding of technical writing while strengthening your portfolio.
- Develop a robust portfolio of various technical writing excerpts.
- Focus on getting more technical knowledge of the industry and products you typically work with.
Furthermore, develop your soft and hard skills, and make sure you understand how to work with different writing software.
The technical writer salary primarily depends on your organization and industry. However, your technical knowledge, background, and experience play an equally important role.
In any case, you should focus on developing an excellent portfolio to negotiate for a better salary.
Becoming a good technical writer requires time, effort, and constant reading. It’s best to develop a habit of keeping up to date with the latest technical news and updates in your industry.