Where the Jobs Are in Technical Writing

where the jobs are in technical writingTechnical writing  is a broad practice and most technical writing positions vary greatly in functionality. While for some the choice to become a technical writer is obvious, the industry one chooses to work in is just as important as the initial decision to become a technical writer. If you are about to head out with newly minted degree in hand, or looking for a new opportunity, finding out where the jobs are in technical writing and other tech comm fields marks one of the biggest steps you can take.

Just like with any life decision, try to focus on what your passion is and chose a minor that will allow you to pursue a topic or industry you care deeply about. Now, if marketability and finding a job quickly are higher priorities, more than a few industries employ tech writers (this data focuses on US technical writing):

  • Something computer-related. Software, hardware, web-related, social media-related, cyber security. Anything. Lots of professional tech writers are people who used to work in IT but could write well. Many established professionals did not major in tech writing, although this would be most helpful if you’re looking to land a job with a software development company, defense contractor, or some other hi-tech company. These sectors tend to have the highest demand for tech writers.
  • Something science, engineering, or health care-related. There is a lot of demand in the healthcare industry for tech writers. Research facilities, hospitals, healthcare software developers, or other groundbreaking human achievement still needs to be explained to regular people, and tech writers tend to come well-equipped to fill that gap.
  • Government. The government hires a lot of tech writers in odd places, and one of the career paths for a tech writer leads to policy analysts, media relations specialists, and many other jobs that require someone to explain complex concepts.
  • Instructional Design (ID)/Education. I list these two together because they are both related to learning. IDs create educational course material for trainers, and many ID positions have near-identical requirements as tech writing positions. Think about breaking down a complex procedure into small, detailed steps. That’s instructional design. And a minor in Education would qualify someone with a degree in tech writing for a job as an ID.
  • Business/Finance, Project Management. A tech writer’s communication skills become invaluable when information must be distributed to team members. With even a sliver of business savvy and/or training, a technical writer is well-equipped to accurately portray ideas, goals, and instructions in a business environment. And most veteran technical writers are required to juggle multiple documentation assignments simultaneously, so they tend to adjust well to the stressful demands of a project manager.

Of the estimated 46,000 technical writers in the United States, over half are employed in technology-related fields.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a more detailed breakdown of which industries hire the most technical writers.

where the jobs are in technical writing according to BLS

But what if your region of the country doesn’t have the type of company or industry that you really want to work for? Then perhaps you should consider relocating to another area that has the kind of opportunities you’re looking for. Again the BLS can help determine which metropolitan-areas have the highest concentration of technical writers.

Metropolitan areas with the highest employment level of Technical Writers

Metropolitan area

Employment(1)

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage (2)

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division

3,180

$36.04

$74,960

New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division

1,350

$34.53

$71,820

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division

1,270

$41.94

$87,230

Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA Division

1,270

$38.94

$81,000

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

1,200

$46.15

$96,000

Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division

980

$30.89

$64,260

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division

970

$36.83

$76,600

San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA

930

$34.97

$72,730

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

890

$30.65

$63,750

Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO

850

$31.59

$65,700

Most of those areas aren’t surprising; the DC area is home to a plethora of government and government contractor positions. The Seattle area is home to some of technology’s biggest corporations, many who employ little armies of technical writers. And the San Jose area (Silicon Valley) is also home to many technology companies that tend to be a big source of the latest job openings, and the most lucrative. No matter what area you plan to relocate to for that perfect job, be sure to take cost of living into account.

John Paz is a journeyman Technical Writer with seven years of professional experience. He earned his B.A. in English with a focus in Technical Writing from the University of Central Florida (Orlando) in 2008. Working from beautiful Orlando, Florida, John keeps busy by raising his three young children alongside his lovely wife (who was his high school sweetheart), in addition to playing lots and lots of soccer.

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