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Become A Technical Writer And Editor

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Working As A Technical Writer And Editor

  • 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

  • $63,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Technical Writer And Editor 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 Writer And Editor

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 Writer And Editor Jobs

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Technical Writer And Editor Career Paths

Technical Writer And Editor
Technical Writer Business Analyst Project Manager
Contract Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Business Analyst Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Consultant Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Program Manager
Deputy Program Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer And Editor Senior Technical Writer
Technical Writer Lead
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Senior Business Analyst
Product Owner
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Information Technology Consultant Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Account Manager Business Development Manager
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Proposal Writer Proposal Manager
Senior Proposal Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer And Editor
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Marketing Manager Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Proposal Writer Marketing Manager Social Media Manager
Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Marketing Specialist Digital Marketing Specialist
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Senior Editor Content Manager
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Development Specialist Grant Writer
Grant Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Proposal Writer Senior Writer Senior Editor
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Manager Production Manager Print Production Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Information Systems Manager Information Manager
Knowledge Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Technical Writer And Editor?

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
Proposal Writer 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Technical Writer And Editor
Editor 7.4%
Teacher 3.2%
Internship 2.8%
Consultant 2.5%
Writer 2.3%
Top Careers After Technical Writer And Editor
Editor 5.3%
Consultant 2.9%
Writer 2.3%
Teacher 1.3%

Do you work as a Technical Writer And Editor?

Technical Writer And Editor Demographics

Gender

Female

54.5%

Male

38.4%

Unknown

7.1%
Ethnicity

White

63.3%

Black or African American

12.7%

Hispanic or Latino

12.6%

Asian

7.4%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

39.2%

French

20.9%

German

8.8%

Japanese

5.4%

Russian

3.4%

Italian

3.4%

Mandarin

2.7%

Portuguese

2.7%

Chinese

2.7%

Hindi

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Greek

1.4%

Persian

1.4%

Arabic

1.4%

Swedish

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Danish

0.7%

Hungarian

0.7%

Bosnian

0.7%

Norwegian

0.7%
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Technical Writer And Editor Education

Schools

George Mason University

9.5%

University of Phoenix

9.5%

University of Washington

9.1%

University of Maryland - University College

5.7%

University of Houston

5.7%

Brigham Young University

5.2%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.2%

University of Texas at Austin

4.8%

Towson University

4.8%

San Francisco State University

4.3%

Pennsylvania State University

4.1%

Texas Tech University

3.9%

University of Central Florida

3.9%

Texas A&M University

3.6%

San Jose State University

3.6%

Northeastern University

3.6%

Wayne State University

3.4%

Michigan State University

3.4%

University of New Mexico

3.4%

University of North Texas

3.2%
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Majors

English

27.0%

Writing

11.3%

Business

10.0%

Communication

7.8%

Journalism

7.5%

Public Relations

6.2%

Education

2.9%

Psychology

2.9%

Political Science

2.7%

History

2.7%

Liberal Arts

2.5%

Management

2.3%

Computer Science

2.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.0%

Project Management

1.9%

Information Technology

1.9%

Elementary Education

1.7%

Computer Information Systems

1.7%

Agricultural Public Services

1.5%

Educational Technology

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.6%

Masters

27.2%

Other

12.9%

Certificate

5.8%

Associate

4.1%

Doctorate

2.9%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$63,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$45,000
Min 10%
$63,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Median 50%
$89,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
ManTech International
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Technical Writer And Editor make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Technical Writer And Editor in the United States is $63,829 per year or $31 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $45,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $89,000.

Real Technical Writer And Editor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Technical Writers and Editors Microsoft Corporation Fargo, ND Aug 24, 2010 $71,000
Technical Writer/Editor Cortech, LLC Tempe, AZ Jul 08, 2013 $66,784
Biblical Curriculum Technical Writer/Editor Glossa Ordinaria, LLC Castle Rock, CO Oct 01, 2012 $65,000
Technical Writer/Editor Tai Foong USA, Inc. Seattle, WA Mar 01, 2011 $57,768
Technical Writer/Editor National Instruments Corporation Austin, TX Sep 21, 2013 $57,000
Technical Writer/Editor National Instruments Corporation Austin, TX Oct 01, 2012 $51,800
Art Technical Writer/Editor Kang Collection Inc. New York, NY Sep 16, 2016 $49,796
Staff Technical Writer/Editor National Instruments Corporation Austin, TX Nov 08, 2013 $49,000
Technical Writer/Editor F. O. USA, Inc. New York, NY Jan 03, 2011 $47,458
Technical Editor & Writer Organization for Cultural Exchange Among Nations Tempe, AZ Oct 01, 2011 $46,039
Technical Writer/Editor Duo Creative Communications Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2012 $42,037
Technical Writer/Editor of History Stackpole, Inc. New York, NY Oct 02, 2010 $41,350 -
$65,415
Technical Writer/Editor Teaching Textbooks, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Sep 14, 2011 $40,000
Technical Writer/Editor Teaching Textbooks Oklahoma City, OK Sep 14, 2011 $40,000
Technical Writer/Editor Teaching Textbooks, Inc. Waco, TX Sep 14, 2011 $40,000

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Top Skills for A Technical Writer And Editor

  1. Preventative Maintenance
  2. Technical Support
  3. Web Application
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Scheduled and Preventative Maintenance 6.
  • Worked with Technical Support and developed a process for issuing technical bulletins quickly and efficiently.
  • Tested Web application and resolved errors in rapid application development environment.
  • Collaborated with Subject Matter Experts to create data management procedures that complied with regulatory requirements and company policies.
  • Learned basics of Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator to keep ALATEC from relying on an outside graphic designer.

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Top 10 Best States for Technical Writer And Editors

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Washington
  3. Virginia
  4. California
  5. District of Columbia
  6. North Carolina
  7. Connecticut
  8. Maryland
  9. New Jersey
  10. Colorado
  • (185 jobs)
  • (132 jobs)
  • (390 jobs)
  • (634 jobs)
  • (147 jobs)
  • (151 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (239 jobs)
  • (116 jobs)
  • (86 jobs)

Top Technical Writer And Editor Employers

Jobs From Top Technical Writer And Editor Employers

Technical Writer And Editor Videos

Writing Career Advice : How to Become Technical Writer

Technical Writing 101: Introduction to Technical Writing

Making Your Living as a Technical Writer (AWP Career Services Web Series)

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