Technical writing is an essential tool used not only in the technical field but across a wide variety of industries. If you are looking to break into the exciting field of technical writing, you must understand the different roles and responsibilities when it comes to junior vs senior technical writers.
Technical writers use incredible technical skills to ensure clients have a quality user experience. If you want to get the best out of your technical writing career then read on. In this article, you will find out about the technical writing field, junior vs senior technical writer salaries, and how long it takes to become a senior technical writer.
What Is a Technical Writer?
A technical writer, also known as a technical communicator, is a professional who converts complex and technically advanced information into instruction manuals, journal articles, how-to guides, and other simple documentation. These documents are aimed at specific audiences such as manufacturers, designers, and clients.
The difference between the job titles of junior vs senior technical writers comes down to the varying experience levels working as technical communicators. More experienced writers could be considered content experts in certain technical specialties and will complete more complex projects and assignments to correspond with their advanced technical knowledge level.
Junior vs Senior Technical Writers: Areas of Responsibility
Tech writers have a wide range of responsibilities and skills. They develop website help sections, product manuals, journal articles, and other content to simplify and clarify technical information. Below are the specific job descriptions of junior vs senior technical writers.
Junior Technical Writer Job Description
- Research: It is the duty of the junior tech writer to source materials and collect necessary information about products for technical documents. Without proper research, there will be inadequate data representation in technical documentation.
- Content Management: Junior technical writers select the appropriate media and technology to present technical information. They also manage technical content in various media platforms using web development, social networking sites, and content management systems.
- Writing: Technical writing is a significant responsibility of a junior technical writer. They learn and implement the most appropriate writing style for the target audience. After subject matter experts (SMEs) have reviewed the technical documentation for accuracy, they rewrite and modify it.
- Product Testing: A junior tech writer is responsible for product documentation and product testing. Testing products, particularly software and hardware, is essential because technical writing will be impossible without accurate information on these products.
- Collaboration: A junior-level technical writer collaborates with product managers and the technical team to achieve the objectives of the organization. The team will benefit from the junior technical writer’s assistance in gathering and documenting source materials, editing, and producing various technical guides.
Senior Technical Writer Job Description
- Writing: A senior tech writer is usually in charge of the most significant technical writing tasks in an organization. They produce in-depth articles, online documentation, and other specialist publications. They can also assign and edit a junior technical writer’s work.
- Specialization: Senior technical writers are usually experts in areas like computer software, hardware, or engineering. Most will have strong academic and professional backgrounds in these fields. Most junior technical writers do not have the expertise to specialize.
- Leadership: The leadership of the technical team lies in the hands of a senior technical writer. Unlike the junior technical writer, the senior technical writer is in charge of assigning technical writing to junior writers and supervising the writing team.
- Recruitment: Senior technical writers interview potential technical writing candidates and train new employees. They may also be involved in task planning, direction, and delegation for some employees.
- Mentoring: Senior technical writers teach and mentor other technical writers, particularly junior technical writers, about best practices and other areas of expertise.
Junior vs Senior Technical Writer Salaries
The annual wage for technical writers varies according to the requirements of the job and the role of the technical writer. According to PayScale, technical writers earn an annual wage of $61,671. Below, you will find the average salaries for junior vs senior technical writers.
Junior Technical Writer Salary
Entry-level technical writers earn an average salary of $49,262 annually, according to ZipRecruiter. In the junior technical writing career path, there may be numerous opportunities for a salary increase depending on skill level, location, and years of technical writing experience.
Senior Technical Writer Salary
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a senior technical writer is $85,116. Early-career senior technical writers with one to four years of experience make an average income of $73,347 per year, while those with 10 to 19 years of experience earn an average salary of $87,733 per year.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Junior Technical Writer?
Depending on your level of education, getting a job as a junior-level technical writer can take anywhere from six months to four years. A bachelor’s degree in a related field such as technical communications, writing, or journalism is essential, but not always a formal requirement. You also need two years of experience in a similar position.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Senior Technical Writer?
It takes at least four years to advance to the position of a senior technical writer. You should have expert knowledge of technical subjects and previous experience in the technical writing sector. Not only should you possess advanced writing, analytical, and proofreading skills but you also need management skills to effectively lead a technical writing team.
Career Path and Progression from Junior to Senior Technical Writers
Get Professional Experience
To advance to the senior technical writer level, you need at least five years of professional experience as a content writer. Many senior technical writers have acquired previous career experience as technical writers, editors, or document specialists.
Develop Valuable Skills
Juniors can advance their career by developing valuable skills like the ability to work with technical writing software and tools like Adobe and Excel, explain complex concepts, and conduct thorough research. Soft skills such as problem-solving, organization, and communication skills will help to strengthen the contributions of the junior writer to the team and company as a whole.
Get an Education
Organizations expect senior technical writers to have a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline. To progress to a senior position, you must acquire a college degree. Some organizations require you to have a master’s degree to advance to the role of a senior technical writer.
Develop Yourself Professionally
Maintaining a website and keeping track of new technological innovations can help you progress your career in the tech industry. You could also study tech devices and how they operate to improve your technical knowledge, obtain a fresh perspective, and add depth to your writing. This is vital if you want to work with a technical publication.
Look Out For Opportunities
Use a job alert to keep track of promotions and opportunities. You could ask your boss or mentor for these opportunities or observe the activities of the technical staff where you work. Make sure you have the necessary experience as a junior technical writer before applying for a more senior role.
Should You Become a Technical Writer?
Yes, you should become a technical writer if you are looking for a rewarding and lucrative job as a writer. Furthermore, technical writing is a flexible job, meaning you can work as a freelance writer or get a technical writing job with major companies like LinkedIn or Amazon.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunities for technical writers will grow by 12 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is faster than average, so aspiring technical writers won’t have any difficulty finding a job. While a bachelor’s degree is an ideal pathway into a technical writing job, online bootcamps can help develop your technical skills and programming experience.
Junior vs Senior Technical Writer Salaries FAQ
Yes, getting a job as a technical writer can be difficult if you don’t have the necessary training or certification. Technical writers need a wide range of skills and technical knowledge on top of excellent writing skills. Therefore, you must not only be an excellent writer, but you must also be technically proficient.
Yes, technical writers can earn six figures with enough experience and skills. According to BLS, the top 10 percent of technical writers earn an annual average salary of $119,040.
Technical writing is a competitive and fast-growing profession. Job seekers need to find entry-level employment to acquire the experience necessary to earn a better salary, become a contractor, and earn promotions to senior-level roles.
Yes, technical writers can work from home. Companies in a wide variety of industries, including IT, manufacturing, software development, and medicine, often offer remote jobs for technical writers. Remote tech writers also often work on a freelance basis.
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