Technical Writers: Salary Overview
Technical writers prepare instruction manuals, journal articles, how-to guides, and other documentation that communicate complex information in an easy-to-understand manner.
Their job duties typically include determining the type of users that will read the documentation, studying product samples, working with technical staff to make the instructions and the products easier to read/use, incorporating graphs, illustrations, photographs, and other graphics that may help the readers understand the information.
Some technical writers also work with scientists to write grant proposals for institutions and research projects.
As a technical writer, you will translate the industry jargon in prose for non-technical readers.
You will prepare a wide range of materials from instruction manuals and how-to-guides to content for training, presentations, and other corporate material.
You can expect to be asked to create diagrams to show how a product works, so having some graphic design skills is a plus.
Your job is to make sense of content and to make it clear and accessible for the public; you have to reorganize and simplify the content, make it easy to understand.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for technical writers was $72,850 in May 2019, which means that half of all workers in this occupation earned less than this sum and half earned more.
The median hourly wage for technical writers was $35.03 but rates range between $20-$55 an hour, depending on the writer’s education, expertise, and the industry of employment.
Annual salaries vary based on a wide range of factors and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,320 while the top 10 percent made more than $117,250.
However, most technical writers earn a salary that is between $45,000 and $120,000.
Technical Writer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writers held approximately 55,700 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them working in the field of professional, scientific, and technical services or in the manufacturing field.
According to BLS, the average annual wage reported by technical writers who worked in the field of computer system design and related services was $79,060.
Technical writers in the field of management, scientific, and technical consulting services reported an average annual wage of $74,980 while those who worked in the field of employment services earned, on average, $79,920 per year.
The average annual wage was $74,360 for technical writers who worked in the field of scientific research and development services and $84,980 for those employed in the field of scientific research and development services.
The highest average annual wage was reported by technical writers hired by computer and peripheral equipment manufacturers and by those who worked in the field of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution.
The average annual wage earned by technical writers who specialized in writing about computers and peripheral equipment was $109,580 while those who worked in the field of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution reported a mean annual wage of $94,320.
There are many other factors that determine how much a technical writer makes, including his/her education and area of expertise.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in English or a communication-related subject and technical background in the topics you want to cover, your earning prospects may increase.
Applying from certification offered by the Society of Technical Communication or the American Medical Writers may also help you earn a higher salary.
Job prospects for technical writers are expected to be good over the next decade.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for technical writers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028.
This growth is explained, in part, by the development of high-technology and electronics industries which results in a greater need for writers who can create instruction manuals and translate complex technical information to an user-friendly language.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Technical Writers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.