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What Factors Affect a Technical Writer's Salary?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Technical writers produce training manuals, brochures and other types of instructional documents. Several factors can influence a technical writer’s salary including the individual’s education level, prior experience and work location. Additionally, some technical writers are full-time employees who receive a steady wage regardless of their workload while others working in this field are self-employed individuals whose pay varies depending on the volume of their work.

In most instances, technical writers are college graduates; many firms prefer to hire graduates who have degrees in journalism or language courses. Writers must have good language skills to successfully create documents that can be read by people who have received varying levels of education. Some firms also employ experienced journalists or freelance writers even if these individuals have never attended college. As with most professions, a technical writer’s salary may be higher if the individual boasts a college degree as opposed to a high school diploma.

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Information technology (IT) companies, engineering firms and telecommunications providers employ technical writers to produce manuals for both consumers and internal technical support staff. The manuals produced for consumers usually contain simple language so people writing these documents only need to have a basic understanding of the subject matter. Writers who produce manuals for technical support staff need to have a broad understanding of computers, engineering processes and other types of industry specific information. Consequently, many firms employ college graduates who have IT or engineering degrees in these positions; the technical writer's salary, in part, depends on the individual’s academic credentials.

Many people work as technical writers for several years and some firms routinely increase the wages of seasoned employees. This means that the salaries of long-term writers are typically higher than the wages of new recruits. Firms that recruit writers from other companies are often willing to pay a higher premium to these individuals. In this case, the technical writer’s salary depends, in part, on that individual’s career longevity.

The cost of living varies in different parts of the world; within specific nations, housing costs and other day-to-day expenses are often much higher in some areas than in other more rural districts. Out of necessity, employers normally have to pay higher wages to workers living in high-cost areas. Some companies keep costs low by allowing workers to write from home in which case all the technical writers receive similar levels of wages regardless of their location.

While the salary of full-time technical writers typically remains steady over the course of the year, the wages of freelance writer may fluctuate from month to month. A single writer may agree to work on several different projects with multiple companies at the same time. In the short-term, such an individual’s income level would rapidly rise. Conversely, this individual's income level would significantly drop when these projects come to an end.

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