What is the Average Technical Writer Salary?

Updated on April 10th, 2022
What is the Average Technical Writer Salary?

The technical writer salary range in the US is $40,000 to $156,000. The national average salary for a technical writer increase from $63,800 in 2013 to $73,700 in 2022. The salary estimates depends on many factors such as experience, education, location and industry.

The annual growth rate for technical writer jobs is approximately 8%. The highest salaries are often offered by technology companies. These companies are often located on the East and West coasts of the US.

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Salaries Along the Technical Writer Career Path

Provided that other factors such as qualification, experience and industry are kept constant, the average technical writer salary is determined to a large extent by seniority, in other words by experience. The total compensation - average base salary plus add ons - for professionals with more experience falls in the higher salary ranges.

Junior Technical Writer: $77,068

The easiest way for a new graduate or someone making a major career change to break into technical writing is to join an organization as a junior technical writer. Most companies prefer a college degree for this entry level technical writer position and anywhere from zero to two years of previous work experience. Since this is an entry-level role, larger companies have even started recruiting out of colleges and universities to fill their junior technical writer positions.

Technical Writer: $78,099

Most companies require two to five years of experience for the technical writer role. Relevant work experience or an advanced degree in a relevant discipline may allow candidates to take on the role with less experience and draw high salaries as well.

Senior Technical Writer: $111,219

At least five years of professional experience is preferred for the senior technical writer role. This is a senior position that not only involves writing and content creation but also requires the supervision and training of other technical writers. This position is usually the first step for technical writers who want to move into management.

Principal Technical Writer: $129,560

Many principal technical writers have previous career experience in roles such as technical writer or technical writer lead. A principal technical writer needs to have the skills to manage a team, manage projects and achieve monthly goals.

VP of Technical Writing: $154,353

This role is often the senior-most role within the technical writing department of an organization and usually requires more than ten years of experience. The job description for a VP of technical writing includes making strategic decisions for the department such as those related to hiring and training and development, maximizing the company's operating performance, and helping to achieve the company's financial goals.

Location

Location affects salaries in two ways: cost of living and demand.

The cost of living is largely dependent on location and specifically on the cost of housing. This is part of the reason why salaries in some urban areas, such as Silicon Valley and San Francisco, are higher than salaries for similar roles in other urban locations such as Houston, Texas. 

Job markets with higher demand allow professionals to demand higher levels of compensation. You can expect to receive a higher level of compensation in locations where the demand for your skillset and experience outweighs the supply.

One thing to note is that the effective salary (salary minus the cost of living) is higher in areas where the salaries are high but the average cost of living is low. In contrast, salaries in the highest paying cities can be offset by the higher cost of living.

Another thing to note is that with the increase in remote work, many employers have shifted to role-based compensation, rather than location-based. Again, research can help you target job markets where you can benefit from a high average salary and low expenses (cost of living).

To develop an accurate estimate of the effective technical writer salary, it makes sense to consider both the median salaries and cost of living when reviewing technical writer salary offerings.

US West Coast

Median salaries for technical writers:

  • Los Angeles: $88,250
  • San Francisco: $94,142
  • Seattle: $102,368

Compare these salaries with the average cost of living in each location:

  • Los Angeles: 43 percent above the national average
  • San Francisco: 80 percent above the national average
  • Seattle: 49 percent above the national average

US Midwest/Rocky Mountains

Median salaries for technical writers:

  • Chicago: $86,081
  • Denver: $80,455
  • Minneapolis: $85,846

The average cost of living in Midwest states tends to be closer to the national cost of living average.

  • Chicago: 23 percent above the national average
  • Denver: 12 percent above the national average
  • Minneapolis: 5 percent above the national average

US East Coast

Median salaries for technical writers:

  • Boston: $82,336
  • New York: $89,724

Much like the West Coast, the average cost of living in East Coast states tends to be above the national cost of living average.

  • Boston: 48 percent above the national average
  • New York: 129 percent above the national average

US South

Median salaries for technical writers:

  • Atlanta: $79,569
  • Dallas: $83,101

The average cost of living in the South is typically closer to or below the national cost of living average.

  • Atlanta: 1 percent below the national average
  • Dallas: 2 percent above the national average

Europe

Countries with the highest general salaries in Europe are Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, and Ireland. The median salary for technical writers in some major European cities varies widely.

  • Barcelona: €36,256
  • Madrid: €26,723
  • Berlin: €66,534
  • Munich: €62,091
  • Dublin: €47,709
  • London: £44,897
  • Paris: €46,088
  • Zurich: CHF97,728

European countries with the highest cost of living are Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.

Australia

The median salary for technical writers in Australia is A$99,661. The average salary for technical writers in major Australian cities remains fairly close to the national average.

  • Sydney: A$105,815
  • Melbourne: A$100,200
  • Perth: A$133,477

The average cost of living in Australia tends to be higher than the rest of the world. It is 7 percent higher than the cost of living in the U.S. Worldwide, Sydney ranks as the 34th and Perth as the 71st most expensive city.

New Zealand

The average salary for technical writers in New Zealand is NZ$84,000. Like Australia, the average technical writer salary in New Zealand's major cities is similar to the national average.

  • Auckland: NZ$75,545
  • Christchurch: NZ$81,750
  • Wellington: NZ$88,000

Worldwide, Auckland ranks as the 67th and Christchurch as the 88th most expensive city.

Education

College Degrees

Strictly speaking, a college degree is not a requirement for a professional with the technical writer job title. However a degree is preferred by employers and also helps you stand out from the competition.

As the role requires good writing skills, employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both previous working experience and a degree in a specialized or relevant field, such as science, engineering, computer science, manufacturing or medicine.

Certifications

Certifications are another way that you can continue to enhance your skills and improve your value in the job market at the same time. The following are some of the certification options that are available for technical writers.

  • TechnicalWriterHQ: A comprehensive technical writing certification that helps you boost your technical writing skills and aim for a better writing career.
  • University of Washington: The university offers a professional technical writing certification 
  • University of Wisconsin: The university offers a wide range of technical writing certifications aimed at entry level, intermediate and advanced technical writers.
  • Society for Technical Communication (STC): offers the Certified Professional Technical Communicator certification. The STC Certification program is a three-tiered professional certification: Foundation, Practitioner, and Expert.

If you're interested in adding more to your resume so you can get the technical writing salary you want, then check out our Technical Writing Certification course.

Industry

Each industry has its own dynamics such as growth rate and demand for professionals with certain skill sets. Therefore the average technical writer salary also varies with the industry.

  • Technology: $74,606
  • Finance: 74,439
  • Manufacturing: $70,659
  • Professional: $69,656
  • Health Care: $68,049
  • Government: $59,737

Leading tech companies generally offer the highest salary for technical writer employees.

  • Google: $114,276
  • Apple: $117,636
  • Amazon: $105,471
  • Oracle: $88,458
  • Cisco Systems: $130,258

Ending Note

Technical writing is a profession that allows you to combine a love of writing with your expertise and knowledge in a technical field. Technical writer salaries depend on a number of factors that include location, experience, qualifications and industry. Research into these factors can help you target companies that offer the best compensation for your skillset.

If you are new to technical writing, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course. You will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.