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Career profile Technical Writer

Also known as Documentation Designer, Documentation Specialist, Engineering Writer, Expert Medical Writer, Information Developer, Narrative Writer, Requirements Analyst, Senior Technical Writer, Technical Communicator, Technical Writer

Technical Writer

Also known as Documentation Designer, Documentation Specialist, Engineering Writer

Interests Profile
  • Artistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$45,510 - $119,040 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Writing
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Administrative
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Organize material and complete writing assignment according to set standards regarding order, clarity, conciseness, style, and terminology.
  • Maintain records and files of work and revisions.
  • Edit, standardize, or make changes to material prepared by other writers or establishment personnel.
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What does a Technical Writer do?

Technical Writers write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions.

In addition, Technical Writers may assist in layout work.

What kind of tasks does a Technical Writer perform regularly?

Technical Writers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Organize material and complete writing assignment according to set standards regarding order, clarity, conciseness, style, and terminology.
  • Maintain records and files of work and revisions.
  • Edit, standardize, or make changes to material prepared by other writers or establishment personnel.
  • Select photographs, drawings, sketches, diagrams, and charts to illustrate material.
  • Develop or maintain online help documentation.
  • Interview production and engineering personnel and read journals and other material to become familiar with product technologies and production methods.
  • Study drawings, specifications, mockups, and product samples to integrate and delineate technology, operating procedure, and production sequence and detail.
  • Arrange for typing, duplication, and distribution of material.
  • Assist in laying out material for publication.
  • Observe production, developmental, and experimental activities to determine operating procedure and detail.
  • Review manufacturer's and trade catalogs, drawings and other data relative to operation, maintenance, and service of equipment.
  • Analyze developments in specific field to determine need for revisions in previously published materials and development of new material.
  • Draw sketches to illustrate specified materials or assembly sequence.
  • Review published materials and recommend revisions or changes in scope, format, content, and methods of reproduction and binding.
  • Confer with customer representatives, vendors, plant executives, or publisher to establish technical specifications and to determine subject material to be developed for publication.

The above responsibilities are specific to Technical Writers. More generally, Technical Writers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is a Technical Writer salary?

The median salary for a Technical Writer is $74,650, and the average salary is $78,590. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Technical Writer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Technical Writers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Technical Writers earn less than $45,510 per year, 25% earn less than $57,960, 75% earn less than $95,690, and 90% earn less than $119,040.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Technical Writers is expected to change by 11.5%, and there should be roughly 5,500 open positions for Technical Writers every year.

Median annual salary
$74,650
Typical salary range
$45,510 - $119,040
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
11.5%

What personality traits are common among Technical Writers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Technical Writer are usually higher in their Artistic and Investigative interests.

Technical Writers typically have very strong Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Also, Technical Writers typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Technical Writer tend to value Independence, Working Conditions, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Technical Writers moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Technical Writers moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Technical Writers moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Technical Writers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Technical Writers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Technical Writers need?

Many Technical Writers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Technical Writers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Technical Writers

  • 0.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 4.8% completed high school or secondary school
  • 9.9% completed some college coursework
  • 7.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 46.6% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 22.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 8.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Technical Writers

Technical Writers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as computers and electronics, administrative, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Technical Writers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Administrative
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Important Abilities needed by Technical Writers

Technical Writers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Technical Writers need abilities such as written expression, written comprehension, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Technical Writers, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Technical Writers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Technical Writers frequently use skills like writing, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Technical Writers, ranked by their relative importance.

Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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