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Become A Contract Writer

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Working As A Contract Writer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $68,824

    Average Salary

What Does A Contract Writer Do

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

Duties

Technical writers typically do the following:

  • Determine the needs of users of technical documentation
  • Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
  • Work with technical staff to make products easier to use and thus require fewer instructions
  • Organize and write supporting content for products
  • Use photographs, drawings, diagrams, animation, and charts that increase users’ understanding
  • Select appropriate medium for message or audience, such as manuals or online videos
  • Standardize content across platforms and media
  • Gather user feedback to update and improve content
  • Revise content as new issues arise

Technical writers create paper-based and digital operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, and “frequently asked questions” pages to help technical support staff, consumers, and other users within a company or an industry. After a product is released, technical writers also may work with product liability specialists and customer-service managers to improve the end-user experience through product design changes.

Technical writers often work with computer hardware engineers, scientists, computer support specialists, and software developers to manage the flow of information among project workgroups during development and testing. Therefore, technical writers must be able to understand complex information and communicate the information to people with diverse professional backgrounds.

Applying their knowledge of the user of the product, technical writers may serve as part of a team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that is in the prototype stage. Technical writers may conduct research on their topics through personal observation, library and Internet research, and discussions with technical specialists.

Technical writers are also responsible for managing the consistency of technical content and its use across business departments including product development, manufacturing, marketing, and customer relations.

Some technical writers help write grant proposals for research scientists and institutions.

Increasingly, technical information is being delivered online and through social media. Technical writers are using the interactive technologies of the Web and social media to blend text, graphics, multidimensional images, sound, and video.

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How To Become A Contract Writer

A college degree is usually required for a position as a technical writer. In addition, experience with a technical subject, such as computer science, Web design, or engineering, is important.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Web design experience also is helpful because of the growing use of online technical documentation.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some technical writers begin their careers as specialists or research assistants in a technical field. They eventually develop technical communication skills and assume primary responsibilities for technical writing. In small firms, beginning technical writers may work on projects right away; in larger companies with more standard procedures, beginners may observe experienced technical writers and interact with specialists before being assigned projects.

Training

Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offer certification for technical writers. In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing. These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and allied scientific communication fields.

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a technical writer’s opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Prospects for advancement generally include working on more complex projects and leading or training junior staff. Some technical writers become self-employed and produce work on a freelance basis.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technical writers must be able to take complex, technical information and translate it for colleagues and consumers who have nontechnical backgrounds.

Detail oriented. Technical writers create detailed instructions for others to follow. As a result, they must be detailed and precise at every step so that the instructions can be useful.

Imagination. Technical writers must be able to think about a procedure or product in the way a person without technical experience would think about it.

Teamwork. Technical writers must be able to work well with others. They are almost always part of a team: with other writers; with designers, editors, and illustrators; and with the technical people whose information they are explaining.

Technical skills. Technical writers must be able to understand highly complex information. Many technical writers need a background in engineering or computer science in order to do this.

Writing skills. Technical communicators must have excellent writing skills to be able to explain technical information clearly.

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Contract Writer Jobs

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Contract Writer Career Paths

Contract Writer
Writer And Editor Marketing Specialist Marketing Director
Brand Director
11 Yearsyrs
Owner Chief Executive Officer Strategy Consultant
Brand Strategist
5 Yearsyrs
Writer Managing Editor Communications Manager
Communications Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Senior Project Manager Development Director
Community Development Director
8 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer City Editor Managing Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Contract Technical Writer Writer And Editor
Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Communications Consultant Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Writer Communications Manager Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing & Development
9 Yearsyrs
Contract Editor Senior Editor Senior Technical Writer
Knowledge Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Senior Writer Communications Manager
Marketing And Communication Consultant
10 Yearsyrs
Writer Writer And Editor Social Media Manager
Marketing/Social Media Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Writer Author Media Coordinator
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contract Technical Writer Senior Technical Writer
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Clinical Director Community Liaison
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Communications Director Senior Copywriter Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Communications Director Director Of Sales And Marketing Account Director
Strategist
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Managing Editor Content Manager
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Contract Writer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Do you work as a Contract Writer?

Contract Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

62.5%

Male

36.2%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

64.8%

Hispanic or Latino

14.1%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.7%

French

10.7%

Chinese

7.1%

Swedish

3.6%

German

3.6%

Cantonese

3.6%

Mandarin

3.6%

Arabic

3.6%

Italian

3.6%
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Contract Writer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.8%

Northwestern University

6.4%

Columbia University

6.4%

University of Pittsburgh -

6.4%

University of Colorado at Boulder

5.3%

University of Oregon

5.3%

Ohio University -

4.3%

New York University

4.3%

Boise State University

4.3%

Texas A&M University

4.3%

University of Utah

4.3%

University of Texas at Austin

4.3%

University of Houston

4.3%

Liberty University

4.3%

Iowa State University

4.3%

Johns Hopkins University

4.3%

Saint Cloud State University

4.3%

Ball State University

4.3%

University of Alabama

3.2%

University of Montana

3.2%
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Majors

English

19.7%

Journalism

13.6%

Writing

11.0%

Business

10.0%

Communication

9.5%

Political Science

4.1%

Law

3.6%

Elementary Education

3.3%

Public Relations

3.3%

Marketing

3.3%

Education

2.8%

History

2.8%

Psychology

2.3%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Legal Support Services

1.8%

Public Administration

1.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.5%

Agricultural Public Services

1.3%

Photography

1.3%

Digital Media

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.5%

Masters

29.3%

Other

13.8%

Doctorate

6.2%

Certificate

3.9%

Associate

3.9%

Diploma

0.3%
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Top Skills for A Contract Writer

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  1. News Stories
  2. Online Publication
  3. Web
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Published Author of Breaking News Storieshttp://www.westernjournalism.com/author/kevinwhitson/
  • Cover breaking news for Channel Partners Online, an online publication that tracks the global telecommunications industry.
  • Incorporated search engine optimization keywords for website.
  • Created and moderated a science fiction book club, a weekly feature that engaged io9's readership and developed user culture.
  • Create concepts and write copy for newsletters, press releases, brochures, video & radio scripts, web page copy.

How Would You Rate Working As a Contract Writer?

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Top Contract Writer Employers

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Jobs From Top Contract Writer Employers

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