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Become An Engineering Technical Writer

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Working As An Engineering Technical 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

  • $64,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Engineering Technical 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 An Engineering Technical 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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Engineering Technical Writer Career Paths

Engineering Technical Writer
Technical Writer Business Analyst Project Manager
Contract Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Business Analyst Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Business Analyst Quality Assurance Lead
Quality Assurance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Program Manager
Deputy Program Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Senior Business Analyst
Product Owner
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Consultant Senior Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Consultant Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Consultant Business Development Manager
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Validation Analyst Validation Engineer Quality Engineer
Quality Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Validation Analyst Validation Engineer Senior Technologist
Principal Technologist
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Systems Administrator Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Program Manager Deputy Program Manager
Senior Proposal Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Information Developer Technical Writer Lead Document Manager
Technical Publications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Information Developer
Technical Writer Lead
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Editor Managing Editor
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technical Editor Managing Editor Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Technical Editor Senior Technical Editor
Senior Technical Writer And Editor
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Business Analyst Senior Data Analyst- Information Manager
Knowledge Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Engineering Technical Writer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Technical Writer 3.2 years
Writer 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Engineering Technical Writer
Engineer 3.3%
Internship 2.8%
Consultant 2.4%
Top Careers After Engineering Technical Writer
Consultant 3.7%
Engineer 1.9%

Do you work as an Engineering Technical Writer?

Average Yearly Salary
$64,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$43,000
Min 10%
$64,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Median 50%
$96,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Facebook
Highest Paying City
Natick, MA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.0 years
How much does an Engineering Technical Writer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Engineering Technical Writer in the United States is $64,815 per year or $31 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $43,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $96,000.

Real Engineering Technical Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Engineering Technical Writer Corsec Security, Inc. Herndon, VA Nov 14, 2016 $91,104
Senior Engineering Technical Writer Apollo Education Group, Inc. Phoenix, AZ Aug 18, 2016 $85,000
Information Engineer/Technical Writer Sigma Technology USA Inc. San Jose, CA Jul 13, 2015 $67,933 -
$84,000
Senior Hardware Engineering Technical Writer Qualcomm Incorporated San Diego, CA Sep 25, 2012 $63,440 -
$96,800
Senior Hardware Engineering Technical Writer Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. San Diego, CA Oct 01, 2012 $63,440 -
$96,800
Engineering Technical Writer Canrig Drilling Technology Ltd. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2011 $63,240
Technical Writer--Computer Science & Engineering Landon Ip, Inc. Southfield, MI Aug 30, 2013 $63,000
Engineering Maintenance Technical Writer Allegiant Travel Company Las Vegas, NV Jan 05, 2016 $60,000
Technical Engineer Writer Worldwide Aeros Corp. Montebello, CA Nov 15, 2014 $56,224
Technical Engineering Writer Worldwide Aeros Corp. Montebello, CA Nov 16, 2014 $56,224
Technical Engineering Writer Worldwide Aeros Corporation Montebello, CA Nov 15, 2011 $56,224
Engineering Technical Writer M.T. Deason Company, Inc. Birmingham, AL Sep 30, 2010 $55,964

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Top Skills for An Engineering Technical Writer

  1. Test Cases
  2. Engineering Department
  3. Technical Support
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Develop and review test plans/test cases/matrices/scripts/technical evaluations and IOQ documents to support validation activities.
  • Research design modifications prepared by the engineering department.
  • Assist personnel who encountered design issues and provided technical support for inexperienced personnel.
  • Conducted formal set-up and commissioning activities for new and relocated equipment systems and authored associated documentation for FDA submission.
  • Formulated and verified turbine component CAD models in correlation to the specific machining process dimensions.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Engineering Technical Writers

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Washington
  3. California
  4. Virginia
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Maryland
  7. North Carolina
  8. Colorado
  9. Georgia
  10. Connecticut
  • (171 jobs)
  • (142 jobs)
  • (668 jobs)
  • (286 jobs)
  • (99 jobs)
  • (225 jobs)
  • (138 jobs)
  • (116 jobs)
  • (125 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)

Engineering Technical Writer Demographics

Gender

Male

57.2%

Female

33.2%

Unknown

9.6%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Black or African American

10.9%

Asian

8.6%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

45.7%

German

11.4%

Chinese

8.6%

French

8.6%

Japanese

5.7%

Carrier

5.7%

Portuguese

2.9%

Greek

2.9%

Mandarin

2.9%

Korean

2.9%

Italian

2.9%
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Engineering Technical Writer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.5%

University of Maryland - University College

7.0%

Orange Coast College

5.8%

Purdue University

5.8%

Wayne State University

4.7%

University of Toledo

4.7%

San Jose State University

4.7%

University of Maryland - College Park

4.7%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.7%

University of Detroit Mercy

4.7%

Community College of the Air Force

4.7%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

4.7%

Florida Institute of Technology-Melbourne

4.7%

University of Houston

4.7%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.7%

Strayer University

4.7%

Northeastern University

4.7%

Syracuse University

3.5%

George Washington University

3.5%

Pennsylvania State University

3.5%
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Majors

Business

17.8%

Electrical Engineering

13.9%

Computer Science

11.3%

English

6.8%

Mechanical Engineering

5.8%

Writing

5.0%

Pharmacy

4.5%

Communication

4.2%

Education

3.4%

Project Management

3.1%

Public Relations

3.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.9%

Computer Information Systems

2.9%

Automotive Technology

2.4%

Management

2.4%

Journalism

2.4%

Drafting And Design

2.1%

Biology

2.1%

Chemistry

2.1%

Information Technology

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.2%

Masters

21.1%

Other

15.7%

Associate

9.9%

Certificate

4.9%

Doctorate

1.4%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.2%
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