Technical Writer: Job Outlook and Educational Requirements
Technical writers require some formal education. Learn about degree programs, job duties and skills needed to see if this is the right career for you.
Technical writers translate complex, technical information into clear and simple language. They compose a variety of documents, such as training manuals, assembly instructions, online customer service guides and technical reports. Technical writers might specialize in one field, such as software reporting or medical writing. People in this profession usually have at least a bachelor's degree. For a detail-oriented person who likes explaining things, working as a technical writer might be ideal.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Additional Skills||Online publication abilities, information management, research|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||15%*|
|Mean Salary (2013)||$70,290*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), technical writer employment was expected to increase 15% from 2012-2022, which is faster than average. This job growth can be attributed in part to developments in technology, medical and scientific advancements and the need for professionals to translate specialized data for laypersons. Technical writers who can produce user manuals and training guides will experience greater employment in the technology and electronics industries.
In May 2013, the BLS reported that technical writers earned a mean annual wage of $70,290. The computer systems design industry employed the largest number of technical writers and paid on average $74,060 annually. The highest-paying industry, electric power generation, transmission and distribution, offered on average $86,680 per year, but employed very few writers. Location was also a factor in earnings; the highest-paying state was California with a mean annual wage of $84,060.
Technical writers are typically required to hold bachelor's degrees. While some technical writers enter the occupation with degrees applicable to a technical specialty, most have a degree in English, journalism, communications or a related field. Some colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in English with concentrations in writing. These programs consist of 4-year curricula that provide students with a solid grasp of English and communication skills so that they can write across a variety of genres and fields. Courses might include:
- Technical writing
- Writing theory
- Web writing
Along with strong writing and communication skills, technical writers must be proficient in online publishing software and programs. The ability to produce video and audio for the Web might be required for some positions. Technical writers often handle large amounts of complex data, so information management skills are necessary. A sharp eye for detail, research skills and the ability to work under strict deadlines are also important for a career in technical writing.
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