Technical Writer: Career Profile, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for technical writers. Get the facts about salary, job duties, education requirements and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Technical Writer?

Technical writers communicate the complexities of products and services in a straightforward manner. They may create things like instruction manuals, journal articles and how-to guides. These writers first determine the needs of their readers, and then meet with product designers and study the product to figure out the best way to instruct users on its proper use. This process may include using pictures, diagrams, charts or animation to explain the intended message. They may need to communicate and work with other professionals, like computer engineers and software developers.

Technical writers will also gather feedback and update and revise their work as needed. More and more the information that technical writers supply is being produced online and through social media. Read the details in the chart below to gain an overview of this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Communications, journalism, English
Key Responsibilities Write easy-to-understand instructions and incorporate visuals for technical documents; consult with technical staff to gain clarity on a topic; revise technical wording as needed
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%*
Average Salary (2015) $73,350*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is My Career Profile as a Technical Writer?

As a technical writer, you create clear and concise documentation to bridge the gap between experts and novices. You are responsible for learning the complexities of a design or concept and conveying this information to consumers and product teams. Your work typically results in the creation of product catalogs, user manuals and help documents. Employers may also use your expertise to facilitate business communications for products still under development.

You may also work with engineers and scientists to compile instructions for assembly, use, installation, maintenance or repair of a piece of equipment. Depending on your technical field, you may utilize illustrations, diagrams and photographs. You may also be responsible for the design and layout of your work

How Is My Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for technical writers would increase by 10% from 2014-2024. Rapid developments in technology, electronics and scientific fields and the corresponding need to convey this technical information to a general audience may be responsible for this growth. Many of these new jobs will involve generating and revising online information to provide Internet-based customer service. The BLS also reported the average yearly salary for this profession was $73,350 in May 2015.

What Are the Education Requirements?

You may want to acquire a solid background in communication and technical skills to make yourself more desirable to employers. As an aspiring technical writer, you can complete a bachelor's degree program in English, journalism or communications. You may also be able to land a job as a technical writer if you're a strong writer with a background in a technical field. In addition to strong writing skills, you may want to develop a specific technical expertise and an understanding of Web design and graphics; knowing a second language may also be required for some positions.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are some similar alternative careers, including those of computer programmers, editors and writers and authors. All three of these careers require at least a bachelor's degree. Computer programmers create code to help computer programs work effectively, essentially writing instructions for computers. Editors review written work prior to publication. Writers and authors supply written work in various forms, such as books, blogs, songs, magazines and more.

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