What You Need to Know Before Hiring Technical Writers

June 12, 2023

Hiring a writer isn’t always a straightforward process. Some businesses need content marketing writers to produce long-form blog posts or promote social media channels while others need highly skilled writers to communicate complex information. Technical writers are the gold standard for sharing complex topics with consumers.

As the name suggests, technical writers create content ranging from user manuals and assembly tutorials to in-depth technical articles, case studies, and other documents. Creating this technical information aims to improve understanding of a company's products and services.

Technical writers take time to evaluate product samples and use their technical skills to make these complex products and processes easier to grasp. Whether you’re a startup looking to promote your services or an established brand that needs help updating your internal documentation, hiring a technical writer can help. Learn more about the technical writing industry and how hiring a great technical writer can benefit your brand.

What Is a Technical Writer?

A technical writer engages in a highly specialized form of business writing. They’re responsible for presenting technical information in a way that’s easy for a company’s target audience to understand. Technical writers can produce information for potential clients as well as employees, such as web development teams, programmers, and manufacturers. Great technical writers are strong technical communicators adept at content management and technical document creation.

Some examples of technical content include instructional materials, standard operating procedures (SOPs), how-to user guides, blog posts, templates, journal articles, and assembly instructions. Technical writers can also create “frequently asked question” (FAQ) pages and work with customer service agents to improve the end-user experience of products and services. These writers often work with support staff to craft document designs and promote project management objectives.

Technical writers may also draft whitepapers, research studies, and grant proposals. It depends on the type of technical writer role a company needs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, most technical writers are in “professional, scientific, and technical services,” followed by manufacturing and administrative/support services.

While most technical writers are full-time employees, there are also plenty of freelance technical writers for hire. Many technical writers have a background as software developers, aerospace engineers, technical public relations officers, and technical documentation specialists.

What Does a Technical Writer Do?

Professional technical writer at her desktop

In a nutshell, technical writers use their writing skills to communicate technical information. They begin each task by analyzing the readers’ needs regarding specific technical documentation. They also communicate with developers to get a deeper sense of how a product or service works. Once the writer understands these needs, they create content to improve the user experience.

Technical writers also work with developers and designers to make products easier to use. Changes are then reflected in existing technical documentation or new documents are created. Technical writers may also rely heavily on photos, infographics, diagrams, and charts as these visual aids can help break down complex information in easy-to-digest formatting.

Technical writers also standardize information across platforms. This means they can create content for internal processes as well as web pages or even social media posts to explain a company's technical products or services.

What Should You Look For When You Hire Technical Writers?

Technical writing requires a host of critical-thinking skills and expertise. A high-quality technical writer will thoroughly understand a given industry or niche and have excellent writing skills. Most technical writers hold college degrees in technical backgrounds or writing sectors, including journalism.

If you’re looking to hire technical writers (including freelance technical writers), focus on those with at least a bachelor's degree or several years of working experience in both writing and technical fields.

Depending on your needs, they should also have extensive experience in computer science, engineering, or web design. Ask to view their writing portfolio with content writing examples relevant to your field and requirements.

What Should You Do When Listing Job Postings to Hire Technical Writers?

As with any job posting, always use clear job titles, job descriptions, and any required technical knowledge and skill set specific to your field. To hire the best candidate for your technical writer job, assess how many years of experience they have and any special certifications they may hold.

Again, review their writing samples to ensure it’s quality content relevant to your niche and specific goals. For example, you might be looking for someone well-versed in technical topics but who also understands the nuances of SEO (search engine optimization) writing. Or perhaps you need someone to focus strictly on creating technical articles or instructional guides for your stakeholders.

What's It Like to Work With a Technical Writer?

In-house and freelance technical writers working together

As with copywriters and content writers, technical writers can work in-house or in a freelance work environment. However, as mentioned, most technical writers work full-time according to the BLS. Even if you’re a fully remote operation, you’ll need clear, direct communication with your writer to ensure tasks stay on track.

Most technical writers start off as entry-level research assistants or technical specialists to gain industry experience. If you have a company with multiple staff members, having your new technical writer shadow a senior technical writer at the beginning is a good idea. This will help your new hire ease into the company and fully grasp their duties before delving into more in-depth technical writing.

Technical writers can also gain certifications from organizations like the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Technical Communication. These organizations also offer education programs to help technical writers start their careers or fine-tune their skills as part of a life-long learning program. 

Pro tip: Learn more about working with freelance writers to ensure you find the right fit.

How Much Do Technical Writers Earn?

Per the BLS, technical writers typically earn a median wage of $78,060 (or about $37.50 per hour) as of May 2021, the most recent statistic available. This can be a high expense for many small businesses and startups. That's where a freelance technical writer may be an ideal option.

You can hire technical freelance writers on an as-needed basis or per project to keep costs down without sacrificing quality content. Another alternative is to hire junior technical writers or technical writing students. While they may need a little more guidance from technical team members or product developers, they can provide the technical documentation you need at a fraction of the price.

Is the Technical Writing Industry Growing?

The increasing complexity of information technology means a growing need for companies to emphasize communication skills. Hiring technical staff means your brand can easily communicate what it offers, even if your products and services are complicated for the average person.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s BLS expects the employment growth for technical writers to increase by 6% through 2031, which is on par with average overall job growth.

In 2021, there were 55,400 job opportunities for writers in the technical field.  Most of these job openings also offer short-term onsite job training. Technical writers can work full-time or part-time and are often integral to huge tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple.

Need Help? Hire a Technical Writer

Experienced technical writers are subject matter experts who make complex technical information easier for the average person to understand. They can offer web-based product support and instruction manuals, answer customer FAQs on web pages, create informative blog posts, and help internal teams understand complex information.

Hiring a technical writer is a valuable marketing move for businesses large and small. If you want someone to streamline your SOPs, or engage more potential clients by making your products or services easier to understand, consider hiring someone who can handle whatever type of technical writing you need.

Learn how the Writer Finder can help you find pro-level technical writers fast.