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Become A Free Lance Writer

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Working As A Free Lance 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

  • $62,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Free Lance 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 Free Lance 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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Free Lance Writer Career Paths

Free Lance Writer
Writer/Producer Senior Producer Senior Project Manager
Senior Manager Of Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Writer/Producer Senior Writer Creative Director
Marketing Vice President
10 Yearsyrs
Writer/Producer Consultant Marketing Manager
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Owner Marketing Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Vice President Marketing Vice President
Chief Marketing Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Account Manager Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Social Media Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Editor Public Relations Manager
Manager Of Corporate Communications
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Editor Technical Writer
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Manager Office Manager Property Manager
Assistant Director, Communications
5 Yearsyrs
Manager Marketing Manager Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Manager Owner Creative Director
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Content Manager
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Senior Technical Writer
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Senior Copywriter Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Production Manager Print Production Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Owner Owner And Founder Social Media Manager
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Communications Manager Social Media Manager
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Free Lance Writer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Free Lance Writer 4.0 years
Senior Writer 3.7 years
Consultant/Writer 3.3 years
Writer And Editor 3.1 years
Business Writer 3.0 years
Editor/Copy Writer 2.9 years
Feature Writer 2.6 years
Writer/Reporter 2.4 years
Staff Writer 2.0 years
Writer 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Free Lance Writer
Teacher 10.7%
Editor 9.7%
Reporter 9.0%
Internship 7.3%
Secretary 4.3%
Instructor 3.7%
Cashier 3.2%
Tutor 3.0%
Writer 3.0%
Top Careers After Free Lance Writer
Editor 9.0%
Teacher 8.1%
Writer 6.9%
Reporter 6.5%
Director 4.7%
Owner 4.4%
Consultant 4.4%
Internship 4.4%
Instructor 4.4%
Manager 3.7%
Assistant 3.7%
Tutor 3.4%
Author 3.4%
Cashier 3.4%

Do you work as a Free Lance Writer?

Free Lance Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

53.8%

Male

37.6%

Unknown

8.6%
Ethnicity

White

65.0%

Hispanic or Latino

12.3%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

24.0%

French

21.3%

German

8.0%

Italian

6.7%

Mandarin

4.0%

Greek

4.0%

Arabic

4.0%

Dutch

2.7%

Korean

2.7%

Bosnian

2.7%

Russian

2.7%

Chinese

2.7%

Japanese

2.7%

Croatian

2.7%

Hebrew

2.7%

Romanian

1.3%

Hindi

1.3%

Danish

1.3%

Bulgarian

1.3%

Hawaiian

1.3%
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Free Lance Writer Education

Schools

University of Iowa

10.8%

New York University

6.9%

George Washington University

6.9%

Pennsylvania State University

5.9%

University of Central Florida

5.9%

University of Texas at Austin

4.9%

Florida State University

4.9%

University of Connecticut

4.9%

Liberty University

4.9%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

4.9%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

3.9%

Arizona State University

3.9%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

3.9%

Temple University

3.9%

Webster University

3.9%

University of Southern California

3.9%

Kent State University

3.9%

University of Maryland - College Park

3.9%

Miami University

3.9%

University of Washington

3.9%
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Majors

Journalism

16.6%

English

15.8%

Communication

11.8%

Business

7.3%

Writing

5.2%

Elementary Education

4.4%

Political Science

4.1%

Education

3.9%

Liberal Arts

3.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.9%

Psychology

3.7%

History

3.5%

Public Relations

2.9%

Agricultural Public Services

2.5%

Marketing

2.5%

Fine Arts

1.7%

Nursing

1.7%

Literature

1.7%

School Counseling

1.5%

Photography

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.7%

Masters

25.5%

Other

16.4%

Certificate

4.3%

Doctorate

3.8%

Associate

3.3%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.1%
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Top Skills for A Free Lance Writer

  1. Free-Lance Writer
  2. Feature
  3. Catholic Weekly Newspaper
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Intern and free-lance writer for TAILS pet resource magazine, available in eight different markets across the country.
  • Created and published original feature-story columns about seniors for The Charlotte Observer newspaper.
  • Contributed articles for Today's Catholic weekly newspaper as needed.
  • Design: Free-lance web application programmer for the Training and Organizational Development department of ARAMARK food services.
  • Research and summarize news stories related to personal injury cases to be posted on the law firm's blog

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Free Lance Writer Videos

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