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Become A Research Writer

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Working As A Research 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

  • $65,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Research 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 Research 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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Research Writer Career Paths

Research Writer
Writer And Editor Consultant Marketing Manager
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Consultant Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Consultant Principal
Marketing Vice President
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Project Manager Marketing Manager
Senior Manager Of Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Editor Owner Marketing Director
Chief Marketing Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Technical Writer Proposal Writer
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Project Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Owner Communications Director
Community Development Director
9 Yearsyrs
Tutor Program Coordinator Grant Writer
Grant Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Tutor Data Analyst Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Tutor Writer Staff Writer
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Marketing Manager Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Manager Social Media Manager
Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Producer Senior Editor Senior Technical Writer
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Producer Senior Editor Content Manager
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Producer Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Social Media Manager
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Public Relations Specialist
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Production Manager Print Production Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Research Writer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Consultant/Writer 3.3 years
Writer And Editor 3.1 years
Business Writer 3.0 years
Editor/Copy Writer 2.9 years
Lead Writer 2.8 years
Designer/Writer 2.7 years
Feature Writer 2.6 years
Creative Writer 2.2 years
Contract Writer 2.1 years
Writer 2.0 years
Research Writer 2.0 years
Staff Writer 2.0 years
Web Writer 1.8 years
Writer/Blogger 1.7 years
Assistant Writer 1.4 years
Content Writer 1.4 years
Blog Writer 1.2 years
Top Careers Before Research Writer
Internship 13.7%
Researcher 7.7%
Writer 7.3%
Editor 7.2%
Volunteer 5.9%
Teacher 5.8%
Reporter 3.7%
Instructor 3.7%
Consultant 3.0%
Top Careers After Research Writer
Editor 8.8%
Internship 7.6%
Writer 7.2%
Consultant 6.1%
Researcher 6.0%
Teacher 5.3%
Volunteer 5.0%
Reporter 3.0%
Instructor 3.0%
Owner 2.9%
Tutor 2.8%
Director 2.8%

Do you work as a Research Writer?

Research Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

51.6%

Male

36.9%

Unknown

11.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.1%

Hispanic or Latino

13.7%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

8.2%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

32.7%

French

23.2%

German

9.1%

Italian

8.2%

Russian

4.1%

Portuguese

3.2%

Arabic

2.7%

Mandarin

2.3%

Chinese

2.3%

Japanese

2.3%

Dutch

1.8%

Hindi

1.4%

Romanian

0.9%

Korean

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Hebrew

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Irish

0.9%

Persian

0.9%

Swahili

0.5%
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Research Writer Education

Schools

New York University

13.6%

Harvard University

7.4%

Columbia University

6.6%

University of Colorado at Boulder

5.8%

University of California - Los Angeles

5.1%

American University

4.7%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

4.7%

University of Chicago

4.7%

George Washington University

4.3%

Georgetown University

4.3%

Pennsylvania State University

4.3%

University of Texas at Austin

4.3%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.3%

Michigan State University

3.9%

Northwestern University

3.9%

University of Pennsylvania

3.9%

George Mason University

3.9%

Georgia State University

3.5%

University of Wisconsin Extension

3.5%

Cornell University

3.5%
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Majors

English

13.3%

Journalism

9.0%

Communication

8.8%

History

8.5%

Writing

8.4%

Political Science

7.1%

Law

7.0%

Business

5.9%

Photography

3.8%

Psychology

3.7%

Fine Arts

3.0%

Education

2.9%

Biology

2.7%

Area Studies

2.6%

International Relations

2.5%

Philosophy

2.3%

Elementary Education

2.3%

Economics

2.2%

Marketing

2.2%

Public Relations

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.7%

Masters

31.0%

Other

13.3%

Doctorate

9.7%

Certificate

3.7%

Associate

2.1%

License

0.2%

Diploma

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$65,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$40,000
Min 10%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$106,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
University of North Carolina
Highest Paying City
New York, NY
Highest Paying State
New Jersey
Avg Experience Level
2.2 years
How much does a Research Writer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Research Writer in the United States is $65,831 per year or $32 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $40,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $106,000.

Real Research Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Health Services Research Writer-Pcci Parkland Health & Hospital System Dallas, TX Aug 23, 2014 $130,000
Health Services Research Writer-Pcci Parkland Health & Hospital System Dallas, TX Oct 01, 2013 $130,000
Scientific Research Writer The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Dallas, TX Sep 01, 2015 $54,483
Researcher/Writer Addison Design Company Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $50,000
Research Writer Camargo Pharmaceutical Services, LLC Cincinnati, OH Nov 07, 2010 $49,296
Research Writer Camargo Pharmaceutical Services, LLC Cincinnati, OH Nov 15, 2010 $49,296
Researcher/Writer Jensen & Jensen New York, NY Mar 29, 2010 $45,831
Research Writer Mattison Consulting and Publishing Inc. Sleepy Hollow, IL Aug 30, 2010 $41,100 -
$50,000
NSF Science Researcher/Writer The History Makers Chicago, IL Sep 12, 2013 $40,133
Writers Coordinator and Researcher Twentieth Century Fox Television Los Angeles, CA Nov 07, 2016 $38,220

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Top Skills for A Research Writer

  1. Research Projects
  2. Online
  3. Topics
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed customized research projects for domestic and overseas companies; spearheaded media conferences with industry leaders from Asian and Western entertainment.
  • Conducted online research for identifying colleges and universities that teach Enterprise Architecture.
  • Researched, collected and organized information related to article topics.
  • Gathered oral histories and conducted interviews for various historical documents.
  • Conducted testing of Web applications before going live to the public, ensuring functionality.

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Top 10 Best States for Research Writers

  1. Washington
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Virginia
  4. California
  5. North Carolina
  6. District of Columbia
  7. New Jersey
  8. Colorado
  9. Maryland
  10. Connecticut
  • (131 jobs)
  • (162 jobs)
  • (382 jobs)
  • (640 jobs)
  • (355 jobs)
  • (87 jobs)
  • (145 jobs)
  • (141 jobs)
  • (204 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)

Top Research Writer Employers

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Jobs From Top Research Writer Employers

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