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Become A Technical Publications Writer

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Working As A Technical Publications 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 Technical Publications 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 Technical Publications 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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Technical Publications Writer Jobs

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Technical Writer 3.2 years
Technical Editor 3.0 years
Lead Writer 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Technical Publications Writer
Editor 4.5%
Consultant 3.6%
Mechanic 2.7%
Instructor 2.7%
Top Careers After Technical Publications Writer
Writer 3.9%
Consultant 2.6%
Owner 1.9%

Do you work as a Technical Publications Writer?

Average Yearly Salary
$65,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$44,000
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%
$95,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Accela
Highest Paying City
East Hartford, CT
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.7 years
How much does a Technical Publications Writer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Technical Publications Writer in the United States is $65,317 per year or $31 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $44,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $95,000.

Real Technical Publications Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Technical Publications Writer Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Feb 24, 2014 $178,400
Senior Technical Publications Writer-Dentistry Spear Education, LLC Scottsdale, AZ Jul 28, 2015 $120,000
Technical Publications Writer, Scientific Liaison The United States Pharmacopeial Convention Rockville, MD Apr 04, 2014 $94,101
Technical Publications Writer, Scientific Liaison The United States Pharmacopeial Convention Rockville, MD Apr 04, 2011 $80,000
Technical Publications Writer, Molecular Diagnostics Life Technologies Corporation-Applied Biosystems, LLC Carlsbad, CA Aug 22, 2015 $79,082 -
$114,500
Technical Publications Writer, Molecular Diagnostics Applied Biosystems, LLC Carlsbad, CA Aug 22, 2015 $79,082 -
$133,380
Technical Publications Writer, Molecular Diagnostics Applied Biosystems, LLC South San Francisco, CA Aug 22, 2015 $79,082 -
$144,050
Technical Publication Writer Simarn Solutions Irving, TX Mar 19, 2012 $79,040
Technical Publication Writer Simarn LLC Irving, TX Mar 19, 2012 $79,040
Writer, Technical Publications Chesapeake System Solutions, Inc. DBA Chesapeake MD Apr 01, 2012 $76,843
Technical Publications Writer 3 Dematic Corp Grand Rapids, MI Oct 02, 2016 $69,826
Technical Publications Writer Playdom, Inc. Mountain View, CA Sep 15, 2010 $65,208
Technical Publications Writer Playdom, Inc. Mountain View, CA Sep 15, 2010 $65,000
Technical Publications Writer Singulex, Inc. Alameda, CA Oct 01, 2010 $64,410 -
$75,000
Technical Publications Writer Magento Inc. Culver City, CA Oct 31, 2011 $58,000
Technical Publications Writer (Content Producer) Yahoo! Inc. Burbank, CA Jan 17, 2010 $55,600 -
$92,700
Technical Publications Writer Spiral Universe, Inc. White Plains, NY Oct 20, 2009 $55,000
Technical Publications Writer Hiller's Inc. Southfield, MI Mar 31, 2008 $52,175
Technical Publications Writer The Everglades Club Palm Beach, FL Oct 01, 2011 $50,088
Technical Publications Writer The Everglades Club, Inc. Palm Beach, FL Oct 01, 2009 $50,088

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Top Skills for A Technical Publications Writer

  1. Technical Manuals
  2. Technical Publications
  3. Framemaker
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Evaluated Engineering Change Proposal impact on technical manuals.
  • Composed written text for technical publications used by this major manufacturer of commercial and defense aircraft.
  • Generated over, 38,000 Task Cards & Work Instructions and Process Documents in, MS-OFFICE and FRAMEMAKER.
  • Assisted with the design and layout of fact sheets for the EPA Technical Support Project.
  • Developed Work Authorization Documents from engineering drawings for Payload/Mechanical System Engineering Department.

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Top 10 Best States for Technical Publications Writers

  1. Washington
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Virginia
  4. District of Columbia
  5. North Carolina
  6. Georgia
  7. Maryland
  8. Connecticut
  9. California
  10. Alabama
  • (109 jobs)
  • (130 jobs)
  • (269 jobs)
  • (102 jobs)
  • (120 jobs)
  • (105 jobs)
  • (204 jobs)
  • (39 jobs)
  • (498 jobs)
  • (48 jobs)

Technical Publications Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

51.1%

Male

41.0%

Unknown

7.9%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.9%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

5.0%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

German

50.0%

Spanish

50.0%

Technical Publications Writer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.6%

Miami Dade College

7.3%

Marquette University

7.3%

Washington State University

4.9%

High Point University

4.9%

Arizona State University

4.9%

Athens State University

4.9%

Liberty University

4.9%

Brigham Young University

4.9%

Pennsylvania State University

4.9%

University of North Texas

4.9%

Colorado Technical University

4.9%

Western Michigan University

4.9%

Bowling Green State University

4.9%

Ball State University

4.9%

Rogers State University

2.4%

University of Connecticut

2.4%

University of Florida

2.4%

Texas Southern University

2.4%

University of Maryland - University College

2.4%
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Majors

Business

19.7%

English

19.7%

Writing

8.5%

Journalism

6.8%

Public Relations

5.1%

Computer Science

4.3%

Elementary Education

4.3%

Communication

4.3%

Automotive Technology

3.4%

Educational Technology

2.6%

Graphic Communications

2.6%

Political Science

2.6%

Supply Chain Management

2.6%

Electrical Engineering

2.6%

Education

2.6%

Management

1.7%

Psychology

1.7%

Drafting And Design

1.7%

Computer Information Systems

1.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.6%

Masters

27.9%

Other

16.9%

Associate

8.4%

Certificate

4.5%

License

1.3%

Diploma

0.6%

Doctorate

0.6%
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