Over 50? Would a career in technical writing suit you?

If you have good writing skills, enjoy technology, and like to help others understand how things work, then a career as a technical writer might suit you.

1.0      Technical writer work/life balance

Technical writing has been very good to me.

It’s allowed me to work in China, London, San Francisco, and Amsterdam.

Most of the time I work from home even when I work full time for clients.

Unlike other jobs where you need to be in the office every day, as a tech writer you can work from home quite easily. All is you need is a decent web connection and the ability to manage your own time.

I’m sure you can do both.

1.1      Technical writing salary

The pay is good, too. Look at these rates for full-time technical writers in the US.

If you work as a freelancer, you should be able to double these figures.

According to the BLS, the annual salary for technical writer ranges from 41k to 108k.

Annual Wage $41,450 $53,080 $69,030 $88,230 $108,460

The average hourly rate for technical writing is as follows

Hourly Wage $19.93 $25.52 $33.19 $42.42 $52.14

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273042.htm

1.2      The future of technical writing

Going forward, as they say, the future of technical writing looks bright. Government statistics show the demand is up.

Of course, the tools, software, and products change. Many companies now outsource to India, Singapore and other low cost centers. That’s to be expected. Outsourcing affects most every industry.

Actually, later in this course, I’ll show you how to use outsourcing to your advantage.

1.3      Demand for technical writers

The thing is: there will always be a demand for skilled writers.

But even more important: there will always be a demand for reliable writers.

The BLS expects the employment of technical writers to increase by 17% from 2010 to 2020.

This compares to 14% for all jobs, and 13% for all media and communications occupations.

What’s driving this?

The expansion of scientific and technical products, and the increase of web-based product support will fuel the demand.

Professional, scientific and technical services firms will continue to be a source of new jobs because many companies are outsourcing their technical documentation needs. Job opportunities will be best for those with strong technical skills.

1.4      What education do you need to be a technical writer

I have no degree, diploma, or certification in technical writing.

But I’m very reliable.

More reliable than other writers who are way more qualified than I am, but possibly less motivated.

Next week, I’ll explain how I got my first technical writing job. Maybe the approach I took will help you.

1.5      Is technical writing really for you?

There are different ways to develop a career in technical writing.

Yes, you do need to know how to write.

Yes, you do need to know the authoring tools (but that’s less important.)

And, Yes, you do need to be super reliable.

Why?

Technical writing is a service career.

You’re developing products that others need – now!

It needs to be accurate. It needs to be easy to understand. It needs to be ready on time.

Many writers get the first two right, but not the third.

So, don’t underestimate how important it is to be reliable.

Even if you don’t have a degree, even if you are not a native English speaker, I’m certain you can develop a successful technical writing career.

But you have to be willing to make the effort.

Sound interesting?

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