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LOOKING AT CAREERS IN WRITING? - September 29th, 2014

What do these professionals do?

Technical writers produce instruction manuals and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. Typically, they:

  • Determine the needs of end users of technical documentation
  • Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
  • Work with technical staff to make products easier to use, and thus needing fewer instructions
  • Organize and write supporting documents for products
  • Select photographs, drawings, diagrams, and charts that increase users’ understanding
  • Get usability feedback from customers, designers, and manufacturers
  • Revise documents as new issues arise.

After a product is released, technical writers also may work with product liability specialists and customer service managers to improve the end-user experience through product design changes.

Where They Work

The following industries employed the most technical writers in 2012:

  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Software publishers
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services

Salary Range

The median annual wage of technical writers was $63,280 in May 2012 with a range from $37,160 to $100,910.

Required Credentials

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing.

Outlook

Demand for technical writers is expected to grow by 17 percent through 2020, slightly faster than the average for all occupations. Nationwide, employment will grow by 8,500 to 58,100.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Trends and Drivers

  • Job opportunities, especially for applicants with technical skills, are expected to be good.
  • The growing reliance on technologically sophisticated products in the home and the workplace will create many new job opportunities.
  • Employment growth will be driven by continuing expansion of scientific and technical products and by growth in Web-based product support.
  • Employment in established firms will continue to grow even as the occupation finds acceptance in a broader range of industries.

SOURCE:Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2011-2012.