US Occupational Outlook Handbook Updates “Technical Writers”

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2012-2013 with updated information and projections on technical writing and related professions. Among writing professions, Technical Writers are predicted to continue showing strong growth for the 2010-2020 decade.

In 2010, the median salary for Technical Writers was $63,280, well above the level for all media and communications workers at $49,060 and nearly double the median for all occupations at $33,840.  More than 49,000 people were employed as technical writers in 2010 and the number is expected to grow by 17 percent to 58,000 by 2020. In contrast, while the base of jobs for Writers and Authors is much higher (145,900) the job growth prospects are far lower at six percent.

Median pay for Training and Development Managerswas $89,170 with 29,800 employed in 2010. Job growth is expected to be 14 percent through 2020. The job description for Training and Development Managers includes: “Develop or update training programs to ensure that they are current and make the best use of available resources; oversee the creation of training manuals, online learning modules, and other educational materials for employees; and review training materials from a variety of vendors and select materials with appropriate content.”

544,400 people were employed as Computer Systems Analysts in 2010 at a median salary of $77,740, and job growth is expected to remain brisk through 2020 with 22 percent growth projected. This group includes those employed as systems analysts and architects, programmer analysts, and quality assurance analysts, and the job duties listed include “Train the system’s end users and write instruction manuals, when required” and “Research emerging technologies to decide if installing them can increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.”

The Job Prospects section of the Technical Writers classifications notes “Job opportunities, especially for applicants with technical skills, are expected to be good. The growing reliance on technologically sophisticated products in the home and the workplace and the increasing complexity of medical and scientific information needed for daily living will create many new job opportunities for technical writers. In addition to job openings stemming from employment growth, some openings will arise as experienced workers retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force. However, there will be competition among freelance technical writers.”

The 2012-2013 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook  website lists 538 occupational classifications each of which includes eight sections that describe the typical duties, work environment, training required, pay and prospects. The site is also available in Spanish.

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