California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Technical Writers in California

May also be called: Assembly Instructions Writers; Documentation Writers; Handbook Writers; Manual Writers; Scientific Writers; Specifications Writers; Technical Communicators

What Would I Do?

Technical Writers put technical information into easily understandable language for their intended audience. They must write in a concise and easy-to-read manner for consumer publications or in highly specialized language for experts. They also prepare product documentation, such as operating and maintenance manuals, catalogs, assembly instructions, project proposals, and training materials.

Technical Writers usually work at a desk in an office. While some Writers work in comfortable private offices, others work in noisy rooms filled with the sounds of keyboards, printers, and the voices of other staff. During the planning and production of publications, Writers may be required to travel to other locations to discuss a project with others. Most Writers keep regular office hours, either to maintain contact with sources and editors or to establish a writing routine, but some Writers set their own hours.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Technical Writer may appeal to those who enjoy working with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. Technical Writers also usually enjoy working with forms, designs, and patterns.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2015 for Technical Writers in California was $83,003 annually, or $39.90 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$63,738$83,003$107,258
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Technical Writers working for an organization usually receive medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as life and disability insurance. Vacation, sick leave, and 401(k) are also parts of a typical benefit package. Freelance Technical Writers, however, are responsible for paying for their own insurance.

What is the Job Outlook?

The demand for Technical Writers is expected to increase because of the continuing expansion of scientfic and technical information, especially in California, and the need to communicate it to others.

How Do I Qualify?

Many employers prefer applicants with a four-year college degree in communications, journalism, or English, or those possessing a degree or certificate in technical writing. Some firms will only hire experienced Writers who specialize in one field of technology. Many employers require a strong background of technical knowledge and experience, combined with writing skills.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Prospective Technical Writers should prepare a portfolio of technical writing samples, which may include projects completed as a student or a volunteer as well as previous professional work. Professional association meetings and college job fairs can be good places to make contacts and get advice from those experienced in the field. Social networking sites can also be beneficial in establishing and nurturing relationships with those within the field. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).


Learn More About Technical Writers