Career Definition for Written Communications Professionals
In general, a written communications professional is a trained writer who assists companies and other organizations with their communications needs, both in creating and editing content. They may work on marketing and promotion materials, such as brochures, internal communications, press releases or material for the company's website. Other activities may include editing, proofreading and revising proposals, reports and other important documents. Professionals who specialize in technical writing rework industry-specific and specialized language into easy-to-follow texts that can be understood by the general public.
|Education||Bachelor's degree, a degree in computer science, engineering or medicine can help|
|Required Skills||Reinterpret and present complex instructions, attention to detail, teamwork skills|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$71,850 (technical writers); $62,170 (writers and authors)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||11% (technical writers); 8% (writers and authors)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Professional writers, including technical writers, usually need a bachelor's degree in communications, English or journalism to begin working in the field. A degree or prior experience in computer science, engineering, medicine or Web design may be especially helpful to technical writers. Some writers train on the job, and professional certifications are available from grant writing, medical writing and professional communication associations. Aspiring professionals should also be computer literate and proficient in the use of common industry software.
Writing and communications specialists, including technical writers, must have the ability to reinterpret and present complex instructions and information for consumers and nontechnical audiences. Attention to detail and the ability to work as a member of a team are also required; the ability to put oneself in the shoes of the consumer or reader may be helpful.
Economic and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected an 11%, or faster-than-average, increase in jobs for technical writers nationwide between 2016 and 2026. Contributing factors include an expanding high-tech and electronics industry and the need for online product support. The BLS reported in 2018 that technical writers earned median annual wages of $71,850. In that same year, writers and authors in general received median annual salaries of $62,170. Between 2016 and 2026, writers and authors will experience an 8%, or as fast as average, growth in jobs nationwide (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
Similar career options include:
Editors read and rewrite existing copy and content for both print-based and electronic media, and employers can include educational and professional services, civic and religious organizations or publishers of books, magazines and newspapers. Like general and technical writers, aspiring editors most likely need a 4-year degree in communication studies, English or journalism. As reported by the BLS, an employment decline of 1% is expected for editors nationwide from 2016-2026. As of May 2018, editors were paid median annual wages of $59,480 (www.bls.gov).
Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts
News analysts and reporters who work for online, print, radio or television companies provide readers with information about local, national and international events and topics of interest. Completion of a 4-year undergraduate program in communications or journalism, combined with a college internship or professional experience, is the usual requirement for entering the field.
According to the BLS, a 10% decrease in job prospects for correspondents and reporters nationwide is expected between 2016 and 2026; broadcast news analysts will experience little to no change during the same period. As of May 2018, reporters and correspondents were paid median yearly wages of $41,260, while broadcast news analysts earned $66,880 (www.bls.gov).