What Does A Technical Writer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Technical Writers

Technical Writers write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.

Salary
$78590
Becoming One
Hard
Education
Associate's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Technical Writers write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.

  • Organize material and complete writing assignments 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 the material.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Technical Writers organize material and complete writing assignments according to set standards regarding order, clarity, conciseness, style, and terminology. They maintain records and files of work and revisions.

A typical day for a Technical Writer will also include:

  • Analyze developments in a specific fields to determine the need for revisions in previously published materials and development of new material.
  • Select photographs, drawings, sketches, diagrams, and charts to illustrate the material.
  • Develop or maintain online help documentation.
  • Arrange for typing, duplication, and distribution of material.
  • Edit, standardize, or make changes to material prepared by other writers or establishment personnel.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Technical Writers also observe production, developmental, and experimental activities to determine operating procedures and detail. They may also interview production and engineering personnel and read journals and other material to become familiar with product technologies and production methods.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Technical Writers review published materials and recommend revisions or changes in scope, format, content, and methods of reproduction and binding. They might also draw sketches to illustrate specified materials or assembly sequences.

In addition, they study drawings, specifications, mockups, and product samples to integrate and delineate technology, operating procedure, and production sequence and detail.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them confer with customer representatives, vendors, plant executives, or publishers to establish technical specifications and to determine subject material to be developed for publication.

To some Technical Writers, it is also their responsibility to arrange for typing, duplication, and distribution of material.

Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Average

Is this job meaningful

Low

68% said they were satisfied with their job and 41% said they found their job meaningful.


My first crack at technical writing (insurance industry) arose out of associated work as a fire monitor for the Alex Sill Company. Technical writing is, by nature, a specialty. Most narrowly defined it is the writing of manuals, workbooks, reports, assembly instructions, etc. and delivering the subject matter in a manner that is clear, concise, … Read More


Technical writing is a more detail-intensive task compared to other forms of writing. This means my day involves speaking to clients, analyzing the technical elements of a project, and then piecing together the content. I will often complete the research, write a structured layout (i.e. headings, main topics) and then begin writing. There are also … Read More


Sawinery

For me, being a technical writer proves to be an easy task especially if the person has already been thoroughly acquainted with the technical environment. The challenge this usually imposes though is the fact that I have to be specific with all the technicalities I am working on and at the same doit in such … Read More


Critter Depot

I am a technical writer for The Critter Depot. We breed live crickets and roaches for reptile owners. Being a technical writer requires 95% research and 5% of actual writing. Part of The Critter Depot’s mission is to empower people and teach them how to breed their own insects. So my job is to write … Read More


I have been a technical writer during my time at a large IT services company. Most of the time I’d sit with developers, quality assurance professionals, and DevOps experts. Their conversations would always revolve around development, sprints, testing, load testing, etc. I was a technical writer who was tasked with writing the product description of … Read More


EduBirdie.com

My name is Dale, and I’ve been a technical writer for over 8 years now. Being a technical writer is way more complicated than it seems. We’re different from creative writers. I’m not saying it’s harder or which one’s better. While creative writers drive the story, and their main task is to keep people engaged, … Read More


I’ve been working as a Certification Engineer in Aviation for 7 years. I write technical pieces for people not always sharing the same technical background as me. I write documents for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) which has highly qualified engineers. So using technical terms was not an issue. But when I have to … Read More


Value Transformation

I am a trained engineer, produced patents and many products for the company’s at which I have worked. I have written systems, products, and test specifications. I have written many technical books, and scores of magazine articles as well. The books are used at universities around the globe as teaching material for classes. What is … Read More


I’ve enjoyed being a technical writer for over thirty years. It’s a job that offers a lot of flexibility, the ability to learn new topics and meet people from the entire organization. There are technical writers for different industries and the requirements can vary. In general, the position requires excellent communication skills, both verbal and … Read More


Fertile Ground Communications

I’ve been a technical writer/editor and marketing communicator for 30 years, having worked in the environmental consulting field for most of my career. I relish the opportunity to make the complex clear… to take a subject matter expert’s highly technical language and make it accessible to the layperson. Work as a technical writer involves a … Read More


Pros

Suitable for people who like to work with designs.

Suitable for people who wants job security and a good working condition.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

Very good salary.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$78590 per year

Average hourly wage

$38 per hour

Entry-level Technical Writers with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $45,510 to $57,960 per year or $22 to $28 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $119,040 $57
Senior (Top 25%) $95,690 $46
Median $74,650 $36
Junior (Bottom 25%) $57,960 $28
No experience (Bottom 10%) $45,510 $22

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Technical Writers based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution $102680 $49.37
Utility System Construction $100710 $48.42
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing $97790 $47.02
Specialty Hospitals $92960 $44.69
Automotive Repair and Maintenance $92660 $44.55
Federal Executive Branch $92090 $44.27
Electronic and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance $89170 $42.87
Scientific Research and Development Services $88570 $42.58
Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers $88570 $42.58
Software Publishers $87720 $42.17

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Technical Writers work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Technical Writers including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 8320 $81480 $39.17
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 4020 $76730 $36.89
Employment Services 3250 $83500 $40.15
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services 3200 $77490 $37.25
Scientific Research and Development Services 2880 $88570 $42.58
Software Publishers 2170 $87720 $42.17
Management of Companies and Enterprises 1570 $77980 $37.49
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing 1480 $77780 $37.39
Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers 1160 $72200 $34.71
Machinery Manufacturing 1140 $66480 $31.96

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
14%

40 hours
39%

More than 40 hours
46%

Working schedule

83%

17%

0%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
26%

Every day
74%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
38%

Every day
49%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
21%

Every day
66%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
43%

Once a year
12%

Once a month
31%

Once a week
14%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
18%

Slightly competitive
4%

Moderately competitive
36%

Highly competitive
42%

Extremely competitive
0%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
17%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
8%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
75%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
67%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
32%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
92%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
8%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
92%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
8%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Hard
You will need a considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require a Bachelor’s degree and several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training. Similar careers include Database Administrators, Chemists, Art Directors, and Accountants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
7%

Some College Courses
16%

Associate’s Degree or similar
35%

Bachelor’s Degree
33%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
3%

Master’s Degree
5%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
1%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Business/Corporate Communications

A program that prepares individuals to function in an organization as a composer, editor, and proofreader of business or business-related communications.

Grantsmanship

A program that prepares individuals to develop and write grant proposals to support an organization or cause. Includes instruction in identifying grant opportunities, developing an effective proposal, budget justifications, and developing a working relationship with the funder.

Business/Corporate Communications

Any program in business or corporate communications not included above.


Professional, Technical, Business, and Scientific Writing

A program that focuses on professional, technical, business, and scientific writing; and that prepares individuals for academic positions or for professional careers as writers, editors, researchers, and related careers in business, government, non-profits, and the professions. Includes instruction in theories of rhetoric, writing, and digital literacy; document design, production, and management; visual rhetoric and multimedia composition; documentation development; usability testing; web writing; and publishing in print and electronic media.

Writing

A program that focuses on writing for applied and liberal arts purposes. Includes instruction in writing and document design in multiple genres, modes, and media; writing technologies; research, evaluation, and use of information; editing and publishing; theories and processes of composing; rhetorical theories, traditions, and analysis; communication across audiences, contexts, and cultures; and practical applications for professional, technical, organizational, academic, and public settings.

Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences Communication

A program that focuses on communication of human sciences subject matter and related consumer information to a variety of audiences through print and non-print media.


Technical and Scientific Communication

A program that focuses on the communication of technical and scientific knowledge to a variety of audiences through print, video, and digital media; and that prepares individuals to function as technical writers and editors, documentation developers, web designers, and usability specialists. Includes instruction in scientific and technical writing and editing, graphic and information design, web design, audience analysis, document usability and field testing, publications management, and applications to specific technical fields.

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
7%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
1%

1 to 2 years
39%

2 to 4 years
9%

4 to 6 years
23%

6 to 8 years
12%

8 to 10 years
9%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
8%

1 month
9%

1 to 3 months
30%

3 to 6 months
2%

6 months to 1 year
42%

1 to 2 years
1%

2 to 4 years
8%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

The Builder
19%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
62%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
90%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
19%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
38%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
52%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with forms, designs, and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

They also like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
62%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
67%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
48%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
43%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
52%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
67%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


Don’t know which career to pursue?

Take the career quiz to find careers that match your personality type.

Take The Career Quiz