How much do technical writers make?

Surveys indicate that technical writers are paid more than other types of writers, but how much can you really make as a technical writer?

The answer isn’t simple. What kind of technical documents you write, what industry you’re working in, and other factors affect how much you’re paid. While pay rates generally fall within a specific range for specific levels of experience, the more demand there is for the type of documentation you do, the higher the pay rates often will be.

To get the best picture of what technical writers in your area earn, call the local chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. They often have a job line that lists current job openings in your area, and the folks there are most knowledgeable about the going rates for different kinds of technical writing. To find a chapter close to you, go to the main STC Web site at www.stc.org.

Another resource to check is Salary.com. This company does extensive research on salaries for different jobs in different locations.

If you want to work as a freelance technical writer, check with your local STC chapter to find out what local rates are. Sometimes, these rates are a little harder to find out. That’s why I suggest joining your local STC group and networking with other technical writers in your area.

As a general guideline, however, if you’re simply editing existing technical documents, you can charge between $25 and $60 an hour, depending on your location and your marketing skills.

If you’re writing the documentation as a freelancer, set your hourly rate anywhere from $30 to $100 an hour, depending on the complexity of the document you’re being asked to write and your location.

If you’re writing grants or proposals, you may be able to charge from $30 to $100 an hour.

These are guidelines only. The actual amount you make can be more or less, depending on current market conditions and your personal negotiating skills. The numbers presented here are no guarantee that you’ll be able to make this much.

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