Technical writers create content for printed and online media, such as user guides and webpages, and present it in a way that can be easily accessed and understood.
New technical writers usually earn
$50K-$60K per year
Experienced technical writers usually earn
$60K-$130K per year
Source: Absolute IT, Hays and TechCommNZ, 2021.
Pay for technical writers varies depending on their skills, experience, and where they work.
- New technical writers usually earn from $50,000 to $60,000 a year.
- Technical writers with one to four years' experience usually earn between $60,000 and $100,000.
- Experienced technical writers in management positions can earn between $100,000 and $130,000.
Self-employed technical writers usually earn between $35 and $110 an hour.
Source: Absolute IT, 'Tech and Digital Remuneration Report', 2021; and 'TechCommNZ, 'Salary and Hourly Rate Survey 2020/2021', 2021; and Hays, 'FY 2020/21 Salary Guide Australia and New Zealand', 2021.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Technical writers may do some or all of the following:
- work with managers, developers, users and others to identify their information needs
- plan, research and create clear, accurate content such as instructions, standard operating procedures, forms and policies
- create content in various forms such as video, web, audio, hard copy and interactive eLearning
- analyse work tasks and manage documentation projects
- design the layout and structure of documents
- create language and style guides
- design and draw business, scientific or technical diagrams
- edit other writer's work for consistency and clarity
- test content for its usability
- manage translations.
Skills and knowledge
Technical writers need to have:
- the ability to analyse, interpret, simplify and communicate technical information
- knowledge of the specialist area they are writing about
- the ability to edit, design and lay out technical documentation
- skills in word processing, web publishing and graphic design.
- usually work regular business hours, but may work part time or long or irregular hours depending on project deadlines
- usually work in offices but may work from home if self-employed.
There are no specific entry requirements to become a technical writer. However, excellent writing skills are required and most employers look for people with a tertiary qualification such as an English degree or certificate in technical communication.
Tertiary qualifications in subjects such as science, engineering, electronics, computer science or commerce are valuable for technical writers in industries where this subject knowledge is required.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, te reo Māori, digital technologies and design and visual communication (graphics).
Technical writers need to be:
- excellent communicators, both in writing and orally
- quick learners
- approachable, and able to relate to a wide variety of people
- good at planning, time management and project management
- methodical, persistent and determined.
You need to have an analytical mind. Any type of documentation you do is like solving a puzzle, so you need to be very organised, a clear thinker, able to get a good overview of something, and see processes very clearly in your mind.
Janet Marianne Jackson
Useful experience for technical writers includes:
- experience in the field they are writing about
- writing, editing or publishing work
- experience in the information technology industry.
Find out more about training
- TechCommNZ - Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand
- email@example.com - www.techcomm.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Strong demand for technical writers
Demand for technical writers is strong due to:
- companies and organisations needing to have properly documented policies, processes and procedures
- the large number of computer software products and electronic products that need easy-to-understand documentation
- growing intranet and internet use, which has created more job opportunities for people with technical writing skills
- growing recognition of the value of clear and concise information, especially online.
Your chances of securing a job are best if you join a professional organisation such as TechCommNZ, create wide networks, and build up a good reputation.
According to the Census, 546 technical writers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Types of employers varied
Employers of technical writers include:
- private companies
- government agencies
- computer companies and software developers
- electronics and equipment manufacturers.
Many technical writers are self-employed and work on contract.
- Absolute IT, 'Tech and Digital Remuneration Report', accessed May 2021, (www.absoluteit.co.nz).
- Hays, 'FY 2020/21 Salary Guide Australia and New Zealand', accessed May 2021, (www.hyas.net.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- TechCommNZ, 'Salary and Hourly Rate Survey 2020/2021', accessed May 2021, (www.techcomm.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Technical writers may progress into jobs in other areas that require good writing skills such as communications, policy analysis or editing.
They may also move into management roles such as managing a team of technical writers.
Technical writers may specialise in fields such as:
- information technology
- eLearning development
- content strategy
- UX (user experience) design.
Last updated 24 May 2021