How to Become A Technical Writer

The job of technical writers requires them to translate complex data into simpler form which is easy to understand. They convert data for print and electronic publications that include government proposals, technical journals and websites etc.

Should I Become a Technical Writer?

Technical writers gather information using internet, statistical reports and by conducting interviews with the technical staff (if needed) before they write anything. Some companies may require their technical writers to do editing, web design or document publishing as well. Technical writers typically work with defense contractors, software developers, scientific research organizations or other government agencies. They may choose to work as full-time employees or as part-time independent contractors that are hired for a specific project.

Education Required

Bachelor's degree

Major Requirement

Technical writing or related field




1-5 years of experience

Key Skills

Detail Oriented, Creativity, Teamwork; Technical, Critical and Communication Skills

Annual Mean Salary


Job Outlook

8% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

According to the data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, the Technical Writers earned an annual mean salary of $75,500 which roughly equates to $36.30 an hour. In addition to that, the BLS reported Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing as the highest paying industry for this profession with an annual mean salary of $104,740. Moreover, California was reported as the highest paying state ($91,310 per year) with the highest employment level (6,240) too for this career in 2018 by the BLS.

Career Requirements

Technical writers must have excellent writing skills with grammatical accuracy to transform complex information into clear, concise and easy to understand text. They must be able to work efficiently as independent writers or as part of a team. They are often required to complete projects under tight deadlines with accurate information. Majority employers prefer to hire experienced writers who are proficient in various software programs that are used to write text, create charts or graphs and incorporate diagrams or pictures into documents. Technical writers who possess skills, such as blogging, Web design and video production etc. are preferred by majority of the employers.

Steps to Becoming a Technical Writer

If you are enthusiastic about building your career as a technical writer, then complete the following steps and get started.

Step-1: Education

Most employers require candidates who possess at least a bachelor’s degree in technical writing or a related field, such as journalism or a technology-related subject. If you want to expand your skillset to improve your job prospects, there are several courses available both online and at local community/technical colleges. These courses include subjects like, web-coding and authoring systems as well as desktop and electronic publishing etc. Furthermore, online seminars, information about academic programs and scholarships in technical writing are also offered by the Society for Technical Communication.

Step-2: Work Experience  

To gain some field experience, technical writers may begin working as specialists or research assistants at entry-level positions. This allows them to develop technical communication skills and helps them become familiar with the primary responsibilities of their job. Small firms may allow entry-level writers to work on projects from day one however, larger companies often provide new hires with on-the-job training. The newly hired technical writers are required to shadow the experienced ones to gain experience and learn from them before handling projects.

Step-3: Certification

Although it is not mandatory for technical writers to acquire any certifications, employers almost always favor writers who possess 1 or more certifications. There are several associations such as, the Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association that offer various certifications for interested technical writers. Getting a certification helps increase your job prospects and demonstrates your competence and professionalism.

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