ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Technical Writers Can Make an Excellent Salary Writing Full-time

Updated on November 28, 2021
Laura Schneider profile image

Laura is a technical writer. She enjoys playing the piano, traveling, fine art, and making jewelry.


What do you mean by "Technical Writer"?

Real technical writers don't just decide one day to sit down and become a technical writer. They generally are not former secretaries, assistants, or other types of professions, though some are former engineers. Most tech writers have at least one bachelor's or master's degree in a highly technical field such as engineering, physics, math, statistics, computer science, civil engineering, architecture, or another technical degree with minors or additional degrees in technical writing and training in editing and drafting.

A bachelor's degree or higher in a technical field is absolutely key if you want to quickly be a high-end technical writer and earn salaries of $50,000-$100,000+. Experience also helps just as it does in any field, but if you're right out of school what do you do? If there's no other way to get experience (including volunteering and internships), take an existing manual from a product around your house, edit it in red ink, then set it aside and re-write it completely, taking your own photos and drawing your own pictures (does it need a table of contents? glossary? index? list of references?). This is the type of thing you will most often be asked to do as a professional technical writer: starting from scratch, document a product/service/in-house procedure.


What is so different about technical writing compared with other forms of writing?

For starters, the old adage, "Write what you know" is out the window: you are not the subject-matter expert (SME) for the topic you are writing about, and in fact may know little to nothing at all about it. Instead, the subject-matter expert is an engineer, scientist, executive, or other knowledgeable person(s) from whom you gather information, digest it into what you want the audience of your work to read given what you know about their needs. SME's generally have a desire to promote their work in great detail, or simply to talk about it in great detail because they worked very hard on it and want a sounding-board for their efforts. You need to balance the SME's words/advice with the real audience's need to quickly get the information they need to know to do their job using your document, no more and no less.


Technical writing is about a whole lot more than just "writing"

Highly technical writers need to know a lot more than "just" how to write. They need to be user-advocates by translating what the subject-matter experts know into what the user needs to know and then express that information in a way that the user can best yet quickly understand it. Being a user advocate means speaking up in meetings to keep product designs from getting too complicated for the intended audience (user-base). It may mean drawing a diagram or plotting a graph or taking a photograph. It may mean preparing a quick-reference card or quick startup card to accompany a large user's guide. One challenging thing the technical writer needs to do is to curb the exuberance of the subject-matter-expert(s), as we discussed above, who want to describe details that won't matter to the user or might actually confuse them. That's a sticky situation, to be sure, because you need the respect of the subject-matter expert(s) to get the information your users DO want. Also, subject-matter-experts may have a low opinion of documentation or technical writing in general, thinking we ARE glorified secretaries available at their whim and uneducated in technical fields, so bridges must be made to the SMEs to get them to open the windows into their world and give you some of their valuable time to provide their knowledge to you for the benefit of the user. Upon the initial introduction or working experience with the SME, the tech writer typically covers what they know and don't know.

Usually technical writing involves many activities that aren't strictly "writing": doing usability studies, site visits (visit where an actual user works and see how they use your work to do theirs), editing and proofreading, designing and writing online help systems and user interfaces, diagramming, drafting (on the computer), writing content for translation (global English), giving training classes, and more.

Becoming a Technical Writer

Had you ever heard of technical writing before reading this article?

See results

About the Author

Information about the author, a list of her complete works on HubPages, and a means of contacting her are available over on Laura Schneider's profile page.

© 2012 Laura Schneider


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)