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Become A Staff Writer

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Working As A Staff 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

  • $60,805

    Average Salary

What Does A Staff 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 Staff 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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Staff Writer Jobs

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Staff Writer Career Paths

Staff Writer
Editor Marketing Manager Marketing Director
Brand Director
11 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Writer And Editor Communications Manager
Communications Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
News Editor Managing Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Reporter City Editor Editor
Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Communications Specialist Marketing Specialist Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Editor Technical Writer Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Reporter Communications Director Marketing Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Digital Marketing
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Communications Director Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing & Development
9 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Senior Account Executive Public Relations Director
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
6 Yearsyrs
Producer Freelance Producer
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Writer And Editor Social Media Manager
Marketing/Social Media Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Media Coordinator Media Specialist Media Manager
Media Director
5 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Specialist Media Relations Specialist
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Journalist Public Affairs Specialist Public Relations Specialist
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Editor Production Editor Managing Editor
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Instructor Technical Writer Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Communications Specialist Marketing Manager Social Media Manager
Strategist
7 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Managing Editor Content Manager
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Staff Writer?

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Do you work as a Staff Writer?

Staff Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

51.1%

Male

47.1%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

62.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Black or African American

11.7%

Asian

7.9%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.4%

French

15.9%

Italian

5.6%

German

5.0%

Chinese

3.6%

Mandarin

3.1%

Japanese

3.1%

Portuguese

2.6%

Arabic

2.4%

Russian

2.2%

Hindi

1.7%

Korean

1.2%

Hebrew

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Cantonese

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%

Turkish

0.5%

Bengali

0.5%

Polish

0.5%

Gujarati

0.4%
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Staff Writer Education

Schools

New York University

6.5%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

6.2%

Syracuse University

6.1%

Temple University

6.1%

Pennsylvania State University

5.8%

Florida State University

5.6%

University of Missouri - Columbia

5.1%

University of Southern California

5.0%

University of Texas at Austin

5.0%

University of Alabama

4.8%

University of Florida

4.8%

Northwestern University

4.6%

West Virginia University

4.6%

Michigan State University

4.5%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.4%

University of Georgia

4.3%

University of Connecticut

4.3%

Ohio University -

4.2%

Boston University

4.2%

San Francisco State University

4.0%
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Majors

Journalism

25.5%

Communication

19.3%

English

15.5%

Writing

6.9%

Political Science

4.5%

Public Relations

3.5%

Agricultural Public Services

3.2%

Business

3.1%

History

2.4%

Journalism And Mass Communications

2.2%

Marketing

2.1%

Psychology

2.1%

Photography

1.8%

Law

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.5%

Fine Arts

1.3%

Sociology

1.0%

Education

0.9%

Audiovisual Communications Technologies

0.9%

International Relations

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

66.4%

Masters

15.9%

Other

11.4%

Associate

2.2%

Doctorate

2.1%

Certificate

1.7%

Diploma

0.1%

License

0.1%
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Real Staff Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Staff Writer Nerdwallet, Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 20, 2016 $80,000
Staff Writer, Foreign, Worldviews Blog WP Company LLC (D/B/A The Washington Post) Washington, DC Jun 27, 2016 $75,000 -
$110,000
Staff Writer Forbes Media LLC Jersey City, NJ Mar 11, 2016 $71,594
Staff Writer Forbes Media LLC Jersey City, NJ Sep 26, 2016 $71,594
Staff Writer Forbes Media LLC Jersey City, NJ Mar 06, 2015 $65,000
Staff Writer Forbes Media, LLC New York, NY Oct 31, 2013 $65,000
Staff Writer WP Company LLC Washington, DC Jul 09, 2016 $65,000 -
$80,000
Staff Writer Forbes Media LLC New York, NY Oct 08, 2010 $64,217
Senior Staff Writer Hallelujah Acres Inc. Shelby, NC Jan 03, 2011 $60,000
Staff Writer Thomson Reuters (Markets) LLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $57,000
Staff Writer Women In The World Media LLC New York, NY Mar 09, 2015 $55,000
Staff Writer Buzzfeed, Inc. New York, NY Aug 26, 2014 $55,000
Staff Writer Credible Labs, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 09, 2016 $55,000 -
$65,000
Staff Writer Vice Media LLC New York, NY Feb 23, 2015 $54,000
Staff Writer-Industry Policy BBIM Inc. Clinton, MD May 20, 2013 $50,151
Staff Writer Institutional Investor Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $50,000
Staff Writer Purch Group, Inc. New York, NY Feb 08, 2016 $49,629 -
$55,000
Staff Writer The First Church of Christ, Scientist Boston, MA Jul 09, 2016 $46,800
Staff Writer U.S. Frontline News, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2009 $45,677
Staff Writer Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Washington, DC Feb 15, 2016 $45,178 -
$70,000
Staff Writer Vice Media LLC New York, NY Aug 31, 2015 $42,931
Staff Writer J. One Corporation New York, NY Aug 10, 2010 $42,784
Staff Writer, Health Line Group The Advisory Board Company Washington, DC Nov 09, 2009 $36,001
Staff Writer, Health Line Group The Advisory Board Company Washington, DC Nov 11, 2009 $36,001
Staff Writer U.S. Japan Publication N.Y., Inc. New York, NY Dec 09, 2014 $36,000
Staff Writer U.S. Japan Publication N.Y., Inc. New York, NY Dec 10, 2013 $36,000
Staff Writer U.S. Japan Publication N.Y., Inc. New York, NY Sep 13, 2011 $36,000
Historian/Staff Writer Human Rights Foundation, Inc. New York, NY Jul 01, 2013 $35,500

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Top Skills for A Staff Writer

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  1. Feature
  2. Student Newspaper
  3. News Stories
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Published daily online private equity news and feature story articles reflecting industry developments based on primary and secondary sources.
  • Covered athletic events and wrote articles submitted for university student newspaper publication.
  • Gained teamwork and organizational skills by creating story ideas and working on daily news stories with an organized staff.
  • Composed creative and informative written content for online publication.
  • Developed strong ability to tactfully pose probing questions that elicited informative responses to a variety of sensitive topics.

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Top 10 Best States for Staff Writers

  1. Washington
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Virginia
  4. California
  5. District of Columbia
  6. North Carolina
  7. Maryland
  8. New Jersey
  9. Connecticut
  10. Vermont
  • (184 jobs)
  • (236 jobs)
  • (379 jobs)
  • (891 jobs)
  • (152 jobs)
  • (196 jobs)
  • (238 jobs)
  • (148 jobs)
  • (65 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)

Top Staff Writer Employers

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Jobs From Top Staff Writer Employers

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