Technical Editor: Job & Career Info

Nov 14, 2020

Career Definition for a Technical Editor

Technical editors review materials submitted by technical writers for clarity, punctuation, grammar, and content. They may also write materials, design graphics and layout, create training manuals, maintain websites, and develop Web content. Technical editors often work closely with researchers and developers to ensure accuracy of the documentation they publish. Much of the work they produce must conform to strict guidelines, and they are often exposed to information requiring security clearance. They may work for research organizations, technology companies, defense contractors, or government agencies; technical editors may work as full-time staff or as independent contractors.

Education Bachelor's or master's degree in journalism, English, applied science, mathematics, engineering or other fields; editing experience often required
Job Duties Reviews materials for clarity, punctuation, grammar and content; works closely with researchers and developers
Median Salary (2019)* $61,370 (for editors)
Job Outlook (2019-2029)* -7% (for editors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

In addition to experience as a technical writer, technical editing careers generally require a bachelor's or master's degree in a field such as journalism, English, applied science, mathematics, or engineering. Additional coursework in desktop publishing, multimedia production, and online documentation software may also enhance a technical editor's skill set. Professional organizations, such as the Society for Technical Communication, offer Internet training seminars, networking opportunities, and an online database of technical editing jobs (www.stc.org).

Skill Requirements

Technical editors must have strong computer and word processing skills, in addition to writing, editing, proofreading, and page composition skills. They must be familiar with desktop publishing practices and be able to work with Web coding and authoring systems, such as Extensible Markup Language (XML) or Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). They must be good communicators who are able to make decisions under deadline pressure; some positions might require a technical editor to hire and manage editorial staff and interact with technical personnel.

Career Outlook and Economic Forecast

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a 7% decrease in the employment of editors between 2019 and 2029. Technical editors with strong skills, including technical writing experience, electronic publishing expertise, and a working knowledge of multimedia platforms, may find additional opportunities. According to the BLS, the median annual salaries of editors, including those of technical editors, were $61,370 as of May 2019 (www.bls.gov).

Alternative Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Technical Writer

For those who have interest in researching and creating the original text for documents, reports and manuals, a career as a technical writer is a possibility. A bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications is usually preferred, in addition to knowledge of a technical field, such as computer science or engineering. Technical writers could expect a 7% increase in job opportunities during the 2019-2029 decade, as projected by the BLS. As of 2019, these writers earned a median salary of $72,850.

Desktop Publisher

If designing layouts for books and documents is appealing, desktop publishers use computer programs to collect data and format it for online and print viewing. Depending on the final product, these publishers need specialized computer skills and often college training or an associate degree. Although the BLS predicts a decline in employment in this field of 19% between 2019 and 2029, those with Web publishing skills may find more job opportunities. In May 2019, the BLS reported that desktop publishers received $45,390 in median annual wages.

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