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Become A Writer

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Working As A 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

  • $47,221

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Do you work as a Writer?

Writer Jobs

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Writer Career Paths

Writer
Project Manager Program Manager Marketing Manager
Associate Director, Marketing
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Product Manager
Brand Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Associate Editor Proofreader Managing Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Social Media Manager Marketing Consultant Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Coordinator Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Managing Editor Communications Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Marketing Assistant Account Executive Public Relations
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
7 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Director Marketing Director
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Communications Specialist Marketing Specialist
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Writer And Editor Communications Manager
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Manager
Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Account Manager Marketing Consultant
Marketing Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Social Media Manager Marketing Director Business Developer
Marketing/Business Development
8 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Writer And Editor Social Media Manager
Marketing/Social Media Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Marketing Manager Search Engine Optimizer
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Managing Editor Project Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Project Manager Construction Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Producer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Senior Writer Managing Editor
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Producer Marketing Manager Social Media Manager
Strategist
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a 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
Writer And Editor 3.1 years
Lead Writer 2.9 years
Editor/Copy Writer 2.8 years
Feature Writer 2.6 years
Designer/Writer 2.6 years
Research Writer 2.1 years
Staff Writer 2.0 years
Writer 2.0 years
Copy Writer 2.0 years
Ghost Writer 1.9 years
Web Writer 1.7 years
News Writer 1.7 years
Writer/Blogger 1.6 years
Content Writer 1.4 years
Blog Writer 1.1 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 19.7%
Editor 10.0%
Teacher 5.4%
Volunteer 5.3%
Reporter 5.1%
Cashier 3.7%
Assistant 3.0%
Manager 2.7%
Instructor 2.7%
Server 2.7%
Tutor 2.6%
Top Employers After
Internship 13.5%
Editor 11.2%
Volunteer 5.0%
Reporter 4.7%
Teacher 4.5%
Consultant 3.8%
Server 3.5%
Instructor 2.7%
Manager 2.7%
Author 2.7%

Do you work as a Writer?

Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

54.5%

Male

43.7%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

80.1%

Hispanic or Latino

9.6%

Asian

7.7%

Unknown

2.0%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

45.8%

French

18.2%

German

5.5%

Italian

4.4%

Japanese

3.6%

Chinese

3.2%

Mandarin

3.2%

Arabic

2.5%

Portuguese

2.4%

Russian

2.3%

Korean

1.9%

Hebrew

1.6%

Hindi

1.2%

Greek

1.0%

Cantonese

0.8%

Turkish

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%

Urdu

0.5%

Polish

0.5%

Indonesian

0.4%
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Writer Education

Schools

New York University

8.6%

Temple University

6.6%

Michigan State University

6.2%

Syracuse University

6.0%

University of Southern California

5.9%

University of Phoenix

5.8%

University of Texas at Austin

5.2%

Northwestern University

4.9%

University of Oregon

4.6%

University of Florida

4.6%

Columbia University

4.5%

American University

4.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.4%

Ohio University -

4.3%

Florida State University

4.3%

San Francisco State University

4.0%

University of Georgia

4.0%

University of Arizona

3.9%

Boston University

3.8%

University of Iowa

3.7%
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Majors

English

16.7%

Journalism

15.7%

Communication

13.6%

Writing

9.1%

Business

6.6%

Photography

4.8%

Public Relations

3.8%

Political Science

3.6%

Psychology

3.6%

History

2.7%

Fine Arts

2.4%

Marketing

2.4%

Education

2.4%

Law

2.2%

Liberal Arts

2.0%

Theatre

1.8%

Agricultural Public Services

1.8%

Elementary Education

1.7%

Computer Science

1.5%

Management

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.9%

Masters

19.9%

Other

15.7%

Doctorate

3.6%

Associate

3.4%

Certificate

2.9%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Writer Eye Productions Inc., A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of CBS Corporation CA May 23, 2016 $203,013
Report Writer Vector Engineering, Inc. Greenwood Village, CO Feb 17, 2014 $197,460 -
$223,788
Product Requirement Writer Platte River Associates Inc. Boulder, CO Sep 07, 2014 $150,000
Cognos Report Writer Concur Technologies, Inc. Bellevue, WA Jul 03, 2016 $110,000
Writer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Sep 28, 2015 $110,000 -
$130,000
SAP Bw-Badi Writer Iconsoft Inc. Redmond, WA Feb 22, 2016 $108,000
Submission Writer Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation East Hanover, NJ Aug 08, 2016 $107,200
Writer Adasia Communications, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ Sep 28, 2016 $105,000
Writer 2 Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Jul 24, 2013 $105,000
Writer Quail Television LLC Santa Monica, CA Jan 02, 2016 $104,000
Major Gifts Writer Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Apr 25, 2016 $98,696 -
$118,696
Writer, Fortune.Com Time Inc. New York, NY Nov 20, 2015 $95,000 -
$110,000
Regulatory Writer Med Institute, Inc. West Lafayette, IN Jun 01, 2015 $78,507
Database Report Writer Fresno Community Hosital & Medical Center Fresno, CA Feb 20, 2015 $75,546
Biomedical Writer Grey Healthcare Group New York, NY Feb 03, 2014 $75,000
Writer Piro, Inc. New York, NY Jan 08, 2016 $75,000
Report Writer Vedicsoft Solutions LLC Rochester, MN Jun 13, 2016 $74,235
RFP Writer Neuberger Berman Group LLC New York, NY Sep 20, 2014 $74,000
Cube/Report Writer Regis University Denver, CO Jul 27, 2015 $58,843 -
$75,379
Legal Writer Ardent Law Group, A Professional Corporation Irvine, CA Sep 20, 2014 $58,186
SQL Report Writer University of Wisconsin Foundation Madison, WI Sep 24, 2015 $56,000 -
$70,000
Database Report Writer Franke Management, Inc. Smyrna, TN Sep 16, 2015 $55,744
Database Report Writer Listen Technologies Bluffdale, UT Jun 10, 2013 $55,120
Writer/Developer Xamarin, Inc. Boston, MA Sep 04, 2014 $55,000
Writer Law Offices of Michael I. Brooks, APC Los Angeles, CA Aug 11, 2015 $54,575
Writer Red Board Productions Santa Monica, CA Apr 21, 2015 $54,500

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Top Skills for A Writer

WebContentOnlinePublicationFeatureTopicsStudentNewspaperVideoGamesPressReleasesTwitterBookReviewsSEONewsStoriesInternetWeeklyArticlesLanguageBlogPostsNewsArticlesSafetyPoetryCustomerServiceContributor

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  1. Web Content
  2. Online Publication
  3. Feature
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Interviewed investment professionals to produce timely newsletter articles and web content.
  • Develop subject ideas for online publication.
  • Developed and wrote independent feature film projects
  • Generate original sports stories and draft pivotal storyboard topics focusing on player foundations.
  • Reviewed movies, plays and gallery openings for student newspaper.

How Would You Rate Working As a Writer?

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Top Writer Employers

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