Technical writers communicate complex and technical information in instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles and other types of documents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also develop, gather and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communication channels.
Technical writing is an in-demand profession that commands a higher salary than average for all media and communication workers. Learn more about how to become a technical writer, and the career in general, in the following sections.
What Is a Technical Writer?
A technical writer uses expertise to write documents that convey complex information to an audience. Work environment includes a range of fields, such as manufacturing, the sciences and information technology.
Duties typically include the following, according to the BLS:
- Examine product samples and discuss with product designers and developers
- Collaborate with technical staff to make products easier to use (and require fewer instructions)
- Write and organize supporting content for products
- Create or integrate diagrams, drawings, photographs, animation and charts to enhance users’ understanding of the material
- Gather user feedback to update and improve content
A technical writer may also be involved in related responsibilities across the organization. In project workgroups during development and testing, the writer can work with computer hardware engineers, computer support specialists and software developments to manage the flow of information. The writer may be part of a team that conducts usability studies to study a product in the prototype stage. The writer may manage technical content and its use across business departments.
How to Become a Technical Writer
Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required to become a technical writer, according to the BLS. Many technical writing positions require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as computer science or engineering. Web design experience is also helpful due to the increase in online technical documentation.
Certification is available, such as through the Society for Technical Communication. Obtaining certification is not required, but it can make technical writing candidates more attractive to employers and increase opportunities for advancement.
Technical Writer Salary and Outlook
The median annual wage for technical writers is $69,850, the BLS reports. The highest 10 percent earn more than $111,260 and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $41,700.
Salary data is available for technical writers in the top industries in which they work:
- Professional, scientific and technical services: $71,910
- Manufacturing: $68,900
The employment of technical writers is projected to grow 11 percent by 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations (7 percent). Major reasons for this growth are continued expansion of scientific and technical products and growth in web-based support. “Growth and change in the high-technology and electronics industries will result in a greater need for those who can write instruction manuals and communicate information clearly to users,” the BLS added. Growth in professional, scientific and technical services should continue as well, which also benefits the outlook for technical writers.
Pursuing a Career in Technical Writing
Gain the knowledge and skills needed to navigate new and traditional media for communications roles in any field. Jefferson’s fully online communication degree will help prepare you for career opportunities as a technical writer, copywriter, public relations specialist, content strategist and more. You can complete your degree in as little as two years.