The Job of a Technical Writer

What are technical writers?

Technical writers are responsible for the manuals that come with new computers, the text that comes out on your computer screen when you set up a new software program, and the troubleshooting guide that accompanies your new color printer. Technical writers even document the companies’ manufacturing operations, research and write bids for government contracts, and formulate in-house marketing materials for company employees. In addition to great writing skills, technical writers have to understand how the technology works. Technical writers’ schedules are predictable in that the hours are usually long: sixty-hour workweeks are common.

The Salary of a Technical Writer

A beginning writer working full-time starts at around $42,000 to $45,000 a year (as of 2010). When you have gained three to four years of experience, it goes up to $50,000, and with five to seven years, $55,000 to $63,000. It is not unusual for a senior contract writer to earn $65,000 to $83,000. It could increase from there, based on how many assignments the writer decides to take on.

The exponential growth of technological products in the past decade has afforded this field quite a big boost. Another plus is that growth isn’t bound to particular geographic regions. Contract writers can live just about anywhere, since they only just send out their work through the internet.

Most companies will ask for a bachelor’s degree, ideally with an emphasis on technical writing, but it may be possible to break in with a liberal arts degree and no experience in technical writing provided that it is coupled with superior writing skills. The sum of technical expertise necessary totally depends on the product line. Writing directions for using children’s software programs does not need as much technical experience compared to working for a company that designs computer semi-conductors.

You must not be easily intimidated or afraid to ask questions. You’ll be working with people who hold Ph.D’s in engineering and are experts in their field. If you do not understand something, it’s up to you to continue asking until you grasp it. Engineers and programmers aren’t usually the most patient individuals, so you have to be persistent.

© 2012 Tip Writer