Technical Writer: Job Outlook and Educational Requirements
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 may specialize in one field, such as software reporting or medical writing.
Technical Writer Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), technical writer employment was expected to increase 17% from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). This job growth may 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 2012, the BLS reported that technical writers earned a mean annual wage of $67,910. The computer systems design industry employed the largest number of technical writers and paid on average $70,820 annually. The highest-paying industry, electric power generation, transmission and distribution, offered on average $104,100 per year, but employed only 170 writers. Location was also a factor in earnings; the highest-paying state was California with a mean annual wage of $81,880.
Technical Writer Education Requirements
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 may write across a variety of genres and fields. Courses may include:
- Technical writing
- Writing theory
- Web writing
Technical Writer Qualifications
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 may 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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