Wehave written a lot of articles in this blog about self-development for technical writing specialists, given tips on writing user manuals, shared best practices of applying for a job as a technical writer. But one of the main topics of interest is yet to be covered — salaries in technical writing.
Salary rates change constantly, so it is important to keep your eyes on this matter. This article is based on trustworthy research carried out by Payscale and Bureau of Labor Statistics. We will start by analyzing an average yearly income for tech writers in the U.S. and Europe, and then move forward to the world trends and specifics of salaries in technical writing.
Salaries of Technical Writers 2018
Studies show that an average salary of a tech writer in the U.S. in 2018 so far is $58,217 with $25.03 per hour. An additional compensation for this type of job is about $8.000, it includes bonus, commission and profit sharing money. The five highest-paying cities in the U.S. are San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, New York, Boston. In Europe, the situation looks similar. Let’s take Germany as an example. The average salary here is €46.487, while the bonus range is between €993 and €5.617. In Germany, salaries are mostly affected by work experience, which can be considered as a global trend.
It is very common that different industries pay different amounts of money for the same job. So, let’s take a look at what industries are paying technical writers now. There is no reliable data in this regard for 2018 just yet, but the data for 2017 reflects all the trends.
In the U.S., the top paying industries are civic or social organizations and organizations connected with power generation, transmission and distribution. The salaries there for technical writers can get as high as $92.000-$94.000 on average. Computer system design and related industries while being the ones with the highest levels of employment are sadly not on the list of the top paying industries with an average salary of just $76.840.
How Tech Writer Skills and Experience Impact Salaries
Let’s now see how skills and work experience influence paychecks. First, let’s take a look at what tech writers are paid for in the first place — skills. The basic skill set comes down to writing and editing. The next most popular skills are working with software for text editing and capturing screenshots (by the way, it is not enough just to know how screen capturing tools work to create quality screenshots; check out this article to learn more on how to take screenshots for user manuals right.
Okay, seems like nothing out of the ordinary. But, in reality the skill set needed to get a high salary is much wider, of course. Like, being able to just type in texts in Microsoft Word is hardly a highly paid skill. Knowing help authoring tools, on the other hand, is a skill to aim for. For example, you can give the ClickHelp trial a go to get acquainted with HAT’s, we offer a free 30-day version without any functionality limitation.
How is pay by experience doing in technical writing? It is doing quite well 🙂 Technical writers get a significant salary growth in their first 10 years of employment. After approximately ten years of work the salary growth slows down a bit, but the trend remains positive. For example, in the U.S., a technical writing specialist with less than 5 years of work experience can expect to earn more than $49.000 per year. And, tech writers with 5–10 years of experience can expect to earn $63.000 on average. $70.000 is the expected salary for people with 10–20 years of experience, while late-career experience (over 20 years) is paid for in the amount of $79.000 on average.
You can see for yourself, that year 2018 looks good so far for technical writing. It looks like these positive trends are here to stay because technical communication keeps developing as an industry itself. An important thing to remember — keep getting new skills that can help you grow as a pro. And, this, as statistics proves, will help you get the recognition and salary you deserve while doing the job you enjoy.
Good luck with your technical writing career!
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