Government Technical Writing Jobs: Salary & Career Facts

Government technical writers create instruction manuals, operating procedures, reports and other published materials for a wide audience. Continue reading to learn about education and career requirements, earnings and job duties. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available as a Government Technical Writer?

Technical writers are needed in many venues from technical companies to government agencies. Technical writers help to ease the understanding of complicated and complex material. These professionals will create how-to guides, journal articles, instruction manuals, and any other written material necessary to simplify technical work from scientist, medical doctors, engineers or other experts in related fields.

Those holding degrees in one of the preferred fields can find jobs as technical writers. The chart below will provide more information about career outlook, education, and job duties.

Technical writer
Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study English, journalism, communications
Key Responsibilities preparation of 'how to' manuals, simplifying complex material
Job Growth (2014-24) 10%*
Median Salary (2015) $70,240*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do I Need to Become a Technical Writer?

To work as a technical writer, you are expected to have a college degree, preferably in majors such as English, journalism or communication. Some bachelor's degree programs in English allow you to concentrate on technical writing, teaching you how to simplify complex topics for readers. You'll hone your skills in grammar, literature and composition, and use them to craft effective messages. Advanced degrees and certificate programs in technical writing are also available.

Along with a college degree, you must possess good communication and analytical skills, including being an attentive listener and a quick learner. Since you'll be working with individuals from highly specialized fields, you'll need to possess good interviewing skills and a natural curiosity in different areas. Strong writing and research abilities, and proficiency using the Internet are required. Experience in computer graphics and design is beneficial. Also, familiarity with desktop publishing will make it easier to manage your projects from first draft to printing and distribution.

How Do I Get a Government Job as a Technical Writer?

When you apply for a federal job, you'll need to meet basic requirements. You must be a U.S. citizen, pass a background investigation, and register for the U.S. Selective Service if you're a male born after Dec. 31, 1959. You'll also be expected to pass a physical examination and may need to gain a security clearance if you're working in a sensitive area. The federal hiring process involves many steps and is a lengthy process, so you must be diligent in following the requirements. For job vacancies, you should visit, the federal government's official job website.

What Type of Work Will I Be Doing Exactly?

As a government technical writer, you'll be responsible for creating various types of manuals, orders, reports and other documents. Along with government work, technical writers are employed mainly in scientific and technology-related industries, such as healthcare, information technology and computer systems.

You may work at an office, from home or in the field interviewing specialists, writing material, suggesting a layout, picking photos and other illustrations, and proofing the final draft. You may also be tasked with setting and upholding standards for terminology, style and clarity for a company's printed work.

How Much Will I Get Paid?

Your pay as a government technical writer will be based on your federal pay grade, which is determined at hire by your relevant experience and education. According to, for 2015, the annual pay for a technical writer was $93,039. If you work in the private sector, your income may be higher. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states the median wage for a technical writer in May 2015 was $70,240 (

The BLS states that the job outlook for technical writers was expected to grow about 10% between 2014 and 2024. Technical writing jobs are usually concentrated in high-technology areas, such as Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and San Jose, California.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers could start with editing. Editors read, review, and revise materials for publishers. The job requires a bachelor's degree. Public relations managers work to create material that enhances the public view of a company or organization. These positions also require a bachelor's degree. Fundraising managers take charge of work to raise money for clients, organizations or campaigns.A bachelor's degree is needed for this profession. Another alternative could be work as a writer or author who develops material for books, magazines, teleplays, scripts, advertisements and other types of media. A bachelor's degree is required for writers and authors as well.

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