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Technical Writer Salary: 4 Ways To Make More

Jackie Pearce

If you have had some interest in becoming a technical writer, you might be wondering how much the a technical writer salary is before you pursue this career path.

Technical writers make the complex seem simple by crafting user-friendly guides, manuals, and documentation to help people understand technology, software, or any intricate process. They’re the unsung heroes behind those instruction manuals you only read when something goes wrong – turning tech jargon into something your grandma could understand.

In this article, we’ll delve into various factors influencing technical writer salaries, industry trends, and tips for negotiating a competitive compensation package.

What Do Technical Writers Do?

Technical writers play a crucial role in the technology-driven world by translating complex information into user-friendly documentation.

As organizations increasingly recognize the importance of clear communication, the demand for skilled technical writers has surged.

One key aspect that often piques interest among aspiring technical writers is the salary associated with this profession. It can often be one of the more well-paid types of writing out there.

This is due to the fact that technical writing is hard and requires some time to develop the skills required to become a good technical writer. It is generally not something that you can simply just decide to do one day and then land a job the next week.

However, do not let that deter you from trying to break into the industry and get your overall start in this career path.

Technical Writer Salary

According to US News, “Technical Writers made a median salary of $78,060 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $98,840 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $61,830.”

Depending on where you live, there are also some cities that have higher paying technical writer jobs than others. The top 5 major cities that pay technical writers well include:

  • San Jose, CA: $121,580
  • San Francisco, CA: $121,580
  • Durham, North Carolina: $100,080
  • Sacramento, CA: $99,690
  • Boston, MA: $99,600

Outside of location, there are a few other different factors that can have an impact on what you make as a technical writer, which we will dive into.

Factors Influencing Technical Writer Salaries

While there is a general ballpark of what technical writers can earn for their overall salary, there are a few different factors that can influence your ability to make more or less.

Experience and Expertise

Just like in many other professions, experience plays a pivotal role in determining a technical writer’s salary.

Entry-level technical writers may command a lower salary compared to their seasoned counterparts who have developed a specialized skill set and industry expertise.

The more experience you develop, whether at a company or as a freelancer, you are going to have a chance to make more money.

Industry Type

The industry a technical writer works in significantly influences their salary. Technical writers employed in highly specialized fields such as software development, healthcare, or aerospace tend to earn higher salaries due to the intricate nature of the subject matter.

If you choose to go down a specialized route, you will need to take the time to learn about the topic in which you are writing about.

Geographical Location

As mentioned above, some cities have higher paying technical writer salaries than other cities. You might consider moving just to make more money, if it makes sense for you to do so.

The cost of living varies widely across different regions, and technical writer salaries reflect this discrepancy. For instance, a technical writer working in a metropolitan area with a high cost of living may receive a higher salary compared to someone in a smaller town or rural setting.

Some cities also have booming industries, such as some cities where the famous technology companies are (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc), which can have an impact on the average salary as well.

Educational Background

A technical writer’s educational qualifications, such as a degree in technical communication, English, or a related field, can impact their earning potential. Advanced degrees or specialized certifications may also contribute to a higher salary.

This can also include things such as certifications as well. Whether or not you have the degrees in this field, you should continue to grow your career and find more opportunities to expand your skill set.

Company Size

The size and financial health of the employing organization are key determinants of a technical writer’s salary. Large corporations may offer more competitive salaries and additional benefits compared to smaller companies or startups.

Industry Trends in Technical Writer Salaries

Rising Demand

As technology continues to advance, the demand for skilled technical writers has been on the rise. Organizations recognize the need for clear and concise documentation to accompany their products and services, contributing to the growth of this type of writing.

If you are just getting into this field, you will want to keep an eye on which industries or companies are growing or what demand is happening.

Remote Work Impact

The global shift towards remote work has also influenced technical writer salaries. With many organizations adopting flexible work arrangements, technical writers may find opportunities to work for companies located in high-paying regions while residing in more affordable areas.

Also, the more specialized you are in your particular industry or if you have a ton of experience, that can open more doors for you for flexible work options than you would have otherwise.

Specialized Skills in Demand

Technical writers with specialized skills, such as proficiency in specific documentation tools, programming languages, or familiarity with regulatory requirements, are likely to command higher salaries. Continuous learning and staying updated on industry trends can enhance a technical writer’s market value.

Tips for Negotiating a Competitive Technical Writer Salary

1. Research Market Rates

Before entering salary negotiations, it’s essential to research market rates for technical writers in your region and industry. Online platforms, industry reports, and professional networks can provide valuable insights.

2. Highlight Your Expertise

Emphasize your expertise, especially if you possess specialized skills or industry knowledge. Demonstrating how your unique abilities contribute to the organization’s success can strengthen your negotiating position.

3. Consider Total Compensation

In addition to the base salary, consider other aspects of the compensation package, such as health benefits, retirement plans, and professional development opportunities. A comprehensive view of total compensation provides a clearer picture of the overall value.

4. Negotiate Based on Value

Frame your negotiation in terms of the value you bring to the organization. Showcase past achievements, successful projects, and the positive impact your work has on the end-users or the company’s bottom line.

Growing Your Technical Writing Career

The field of technical writing offers rewarding career opportunities, and salaries for technical writers continue to evolve in response to industry demands and economic trends.

By understanding the factors influencing these salaries and staying informed about industry trends, aspiring and seasoned technical writers alike can navigate salary negotiations successfully.

As the demand for effective communication in the tech world grows, so does the value placed on the skills of technical writers, making it an exciting and potentially lucrative career path.

Next Steps

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