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Make Over $60,000 a Year Writing: Technical Writer Jobs and Salaries

Updated on June 15, 2013
Most technical writer jobs depend on computer writing.
Most technical writer jobs depend on computer writing. | Source

Do you love to write? Maybe you’ve heard that you cannot make a living from it. While it is true that freelancers have a tough time earning a living, you can still pursue writing in an excellent job, you can make an excellent and steady income by becoming a technical writer. Average annual salaries for technical writer jobs easily top $60,000, according to the US Department of Labor. (All information is from that official source.)

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

What are Technical Writer Jobs?

Technical writers transform technical information into readable materials that the target audience can understand. These professionals can write instruction manuals for power tools, help text for complex programs, specifications for aircraft engines, or brochures for medical technology. The field combines the ability to communicate, which is a characteristic of art, with the technical knowledge needed by science. You can train for the profession as follows:

  • If you already have a technical degree, you can enter many technical writing jobs by obtaining a tech writing certificate from community colleges or professional schools. These credentials take from a few months to two years to complete.
  • If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree from a college or university. Half of these studies focus on writing. The other half develops expertise in a technical field such as biology, law, medicine, computer science or mechanical engineering.
  • Advanced degrees in the profession, up to a Ph.D., are also available from many universities.

What Do These Jobs Pay?

Technical writer jobs generally pay as follows:

  • Mean salaries run $31.85 per hour or $66,240 per year for almost 44,000 positions throughout the country.
  • The low end of the salary range shows a median $17.86 per hour or $37,160 per year. The high end boasts $48.51 per hour or $100,910 per year.
  • The highest demand for these professionals comes from computer systems design, where 8,310 positions receivea mean $32.79 per hour or $68,200 per year.
  • Other fields with good employment are management, scientific and technical services, with 3,350 writers making a m3an $32.40 per hour or $67,400 per year, and architectural and engineering services, where 3,300 positions receive a mean $31.13 per hour or $64,750 per year.

Where are the Best Jobs?

As with any profession, salaries for technical writer jobs differ according to the location of the job.

  • The state with the most jobs is California, with 5,820 positions. The state also has the highest-paying positions at $39.77 per hour or $82,730 per year.
  • For cities, Washington, DC, has the best employment, with 3,310 positions earning a mean $74,320 per year. However, the highest paying jobs are in San Jose, California, which is the heart of the high-tech hub known as Silicon Valley. Wages for the 1,340 writers here are at $46.59 per hour or $96,900 per year.
  • A few jobs are available in rural areas, with the most employment in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The 100 technical writer jobs here earn a mean $29.46 per hour or $61,280 per year, which is below the national average. The best rural salaries are in Northeastern Virginia at $40.75 per hour or $84,760 per year but for only 30 positions.

If you happen to have one of the technical writer jobs, feel free to add information about it in the Comments section.


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    • profile image

      Dantheman 2 years ago

      Hi Alocsin:

      I really enjoyed your article on technical writing, I myself thinking of going into this field and to work from home maybe a side business, I do have several technical certifications such as CompTIA A+ and Network+, a PC Support Specialist Diploma, and maybe over the summer take a technical writing or communication course on the internet to pursue a career in writing, do you think this is the right path for me? dan

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I actually had a career as a tech writer, both as an employee and consultant. The money was excellent, but I got bored with it and decided to move on.

    • penlady profile image

      penlady 6 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      Good field for a writer. I have done some technical writing and really didn't like it. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed your hub.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      Well written and interesting hub. Although I knew you could make reasonable money writing, I had no idea that it can be that high. Think I may have to look into it, as I've already studied creative writing, but would have to improve on a technical area (possibly computers, as I've been playing with the since a kid lol).

      Thanks for sharing the info! Voted up and useful

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Well-written, comprehensive hub about technical writing opportunities, education and salaries in different sections of the United States. Thanks for sharing this useful information. Am voting this hub up.