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scottbastedo
08-01-2007, 08:34 AM
Recently, I applied to a position with a software company as a word artist/technical writer. I completed a phone interview and received notice that I will be going to the next step in the hiring process.

The company that I will be working for, if hired, has excellent benefits, and I will definitely work there if offered a position. It is a fairly large company, has won many awards, and is well established. I believe that I can do the work to their satisfaction; however, I will be entering their workforce as a entry-level employee. What should I expect for my salary range?

Anysia
08-02-2007, 08:33 AM
You might try the forums over at STC.org (society for technical communication). It's a good site for technical writers.

Pomegranate
08-03-2007, 12:02 AM
Anysia beat me to the STC reference. ;-) But Techwr-l (http://www.techwr-l.com/techwhirl/index.php3) is another good resource.

Good luck!

dclary
08-04-2007, 05:31 AM
When I worked at Packard Bell (back when they existed and made computers), I earned $9.00 an hour when minimum wage was $5.00 an hour to write user manuals.

When I worked at Rincon (they make custom van conversion equipment for wheelchair users), I was making a bit more, like $14 an hour.

So the pay's certainly not great. And you're writing... although it's pretty damned boring writing.

But it's easy work, especially if things like typing and spelling come naturally to you.

evangoer
09-06-2007, 08:19 PM
$14 an hour? No.

Your pay should be equal to or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. If not -- Houston, we have a problem.

And it's not about typing and spelling, although that helps.

RumpleTumbler
09-06-2007, 08:26 PM
When I worked at Packard Bell (back when they existed and made computers), I earned $9.00 an hour when minimum wage was $5.00 an hour to write user manuals.

Packard Bell. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha.

dahmnait
09-07-2007, 01:09 AM
$14 an hour? No.

Your pay should be equal to or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. If not -- Houston, we have a problem.
That is not quite true. Although much of the issue with pay depends upon geographical area, it also depends on the kind of technical writing. Receiving a pay rate that is slightly less than an "engineer of similar experience" makes sense if you are writing for the engineers. Highly technical projects tend to pay more since you are expected to have more experience with the subject. However, if you are writing for end-users, you can expect less pay.

Hopefully this is a moot point for the OP and he has the job at a satisfactory pay rate.

evangoer
09-07-2007, 04:00 AM
Receiving a pay rate that is slightly less than an "engineer of similar experience" makes sense if you are writing for the engineers. Highly technical projects tend to pay more since you are expected to have more experience with the subject. However, if you are writing for end-users, you can expect less pay.
That's a fair point. But unless we're talking about an internship, $14/hour is just insulting.

dclary
09-07-2007, 07:21 AM
$14 an hour? No.

Your pay should be equal to or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. If not -- Houston, we have a problem.

And it's not about typing and spelling, although that helps.

Tech writers making as much as Engineers?

ROFLMFAO

Good luck with that one.

Average salary for an entry level engineer in Burbank is 53K-65K. Average salary for an entry level tech writer is 42-53K (per salary.com).

scottbastedo
09-07-2007, 07:53 AM
I didn't get the position, but the wage was upper thirties + bonuses and full benefits.

evangoer
09-07-2007, 10:27 AM
Tech writers making as much as Engineers?

ROFLMFAO

Good luck with that one.
Thanks, I have.


Average salary for an entry level engineer in Burbank is 53K-65K. Average salary for an entry level tech writer is 42-53K (per salary.com).

I said at or a little below. Guess what? The high end of the tech writer range you quoted matches the low end of the engineer range. Further tests with salary.com using different regions and skill levels show an even closer overlap. Math not your strong suit?

Scott: it depends on the region of the country you're working in, but upper thirties with excellent benefits could be just fine for entry level work. My very first job started at 40k with zero benefits. It did go up quickly after that, though.

dahmnait
09-07-2007, 07:25 PM
That's a fair point. But unless we're talking about an internship, $14/hour is just insulting.
I have to agree that, unless the benefits and bonuses were extremely appealing for an entry-level workload, I wouldn't work for $14/hour. (Have to stress that extremely. :D)

To be fair, Dave was giving his experience within his career. Part of the pay is dependant upon when the job occurred. For the current day, the pay range is low, even for the pay range given on Salary.com. (Salary.com is a nice tool to estimate pay ranges, but they do tend to err on the side of the higher pay rates.) On the other hand, $14.00/hr does not come close to the lowest range. Of course I do have poor math skills, so I could be wrong.


Scott, sorry to hear that you didn't get the job. At least the interview process counts as good experience towards that next interview, especially since you made it past the first interview.

dclary
09-07-2007, 09:11 PM
I have to agree that, unless the benefits and bonuses were extremely appealing for an entry-level workload, I wouldn't work for $14/hour. (Have to stress that extremely. :D)

To be fair, Dave was giving his experience within his career. Part of the pay is dependant upon when the job occurred. For the current day, the pay range is low, even for the pay range given on Salary.com. (Salary.com is a nice tool to estimate pay ranges, but they do tend to err on the side of the higher pay rates.) On the other hand, $14.00/hr does not come close to the lowest range. Of course I do have poor math skills, so I could be wrong.


Scott, sorry to hear that you didn't get the job. At least the interview process counts as good experience towards that next interview, especially since you made it past the first interview.

Uh, yeah. Did I qualify that that was in 1992?

wee
09-07-2007, 09:30 PM
$14 an hour? No.

Your pay should be equal to or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. If not -- Houston, we have a problem.

And it's not about typing and spelling, although that helps.


No, no, no, no, no. I have a degree for technical writing, and my husband is a degreed mechanical engineer about to get his professional engineering license. There is NO way my skills have the same value as his, because his are much more rare. He makes about 5 times as much as I could possibly make, because his skills are rare & he provides an extremely valuable service to his company. He makes decisions on how millions of dollars get spent each year -- not to mention what his expertise brings in for his company.

Actually, he makes at least 3 times as much as the highest-paid technical writers I graduated from college with, including one who is the editor of a nationally syndicated magazine.

I also know a lady who has three engineering degrees in three different fields, and does extremely technical writing for a company, and makes good pay. But NOT what she would make if she actually worked as an engineer. She told me, "Yes, I make less. But it's worth it because I have flexible hours so I can spend more time at home with my kids." She has made the choice to write instead of doing engineering work despite the drop in pay, so that she can spend more time at home.

Unless you are a blockbuster writer, the next Dan Brown or Stephen King, you cannot possibly expect to bring in the kind of money a good engineer will. But you made that choice a long time ago, when you chose to either not go to college, or to major in something you loved rather than something that would rake in the moolah.

I'm a talented writer & of course think I'm worth millions. But I also understand supply & demand, and the working world. Writers are a lot more common than engineers.


wee

dahmnait
09-07-2007, 10:08 PM
No, no, no, no, no. I have a degree for technical writing, and my husband is a degreed mechanical engineer about to get his professional engineering license. There is NO way my skills have the same value as his, because his are much more rare. He makes about 5 times as much as I could possibly make, because his skills are rare & he provides an extremely valuable service to his company. He makes decisions on how millions of dollars get spent each year -- not to mention what his expertise brings in for his company.
This would be one very good reason he is making so much money. However, a technical writer can make almost as much as a low-level engineer. Again, it depends upon the specialty of the technical writer. The post you quoted stated that a person should (although it should say "can") make as much or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. The chances that a technical writer would have the kind of experience that your husband seems to have are extremely slim.

One other point your post made is the value of your husband's skills compared to a technical writer's skills. I may just be nit picking here, but it seems like you are down playing the importance of good documentation. Most people don't understand the value of well-written documentation. They do this in part, because it is not always a tangible contribution. I am not saying that makes a technical writer's skill as valuable (when converted to salary) to the company as, say, an engineer's contribution. However, the actual service is as valuable as that engineer's service to the company. Businesses fail all the time because they don't comprehend the power of communication.

Given the tangible factors involved in career choices, it makes sense that an engineer's salary is higher than a technical writer's salary. And in your husband’s case, it sounds like he is not only a high-level engineer, but also possibly an officer in the company; of course his salary will reflect that. I agree that salaries are based on supply and demand as well as education and the “tangible contribution” to the company. But that is a subject for a different thread.


ETA: I would delete this, since it sounds a bit preachy, except I meant everything I wrote. I'm too tired to try and edit for tone; I'm afraid I would make it sound worse. So, if I have misunderstood your meaning, please feel free to chastise me. :)

dclary
09-07-2007, 10:41 PM
This would be one very good reason he is making so much money. However, a technical writer can make almost as much as a low-level engineer. Again, it depends upon the specialty of the technical writer. The post you quoted stated that a person should (although it should say "can") make as much or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. The chances that a technical writer would have the kind of experience that your husband seems to have are extremely slim.

No, Dahm... the poster she was replying to said that an engineer and tech writer of the same experience levels should make roughly the same amount, and that's simply not the case in the market. Engineers are valued much more highly than writers, and at higher experience levels, the pay differences are significantly more visible.

dahmnait
09-07-2007, 10:53 PM
No, Dahm... the poster she was replying to said that an engineer and tech writer of the same experience levels should make roughly the same amount, and that's simply not the case in the market. Engineers are valued much more highly than writers, and at higher experience levels, the pay differences are significantly more visible.
Then I misinterpreted and apologize for anything I said that may have been out of line. Thanks for clarifying.

dclary
09-07-2007, 10:54 PM
No worries. :D

And that's CLARYfying to you! ;)

evangoer
09-08-2007, 07:54 PM
Yes, engineers are valued more highly in the market -- as well they should be. I make about ten to fifteen percent less than the senior engineers. I might overlap or exceed an engineer who just transitioned from mid-level to senior. That's what I meant by "at or slightly less."

Once you try to go beyond the senior level as a tech writer, you run into a cap on your wages. Very experienced software engineers can go off and become senior architects, or invent some critical piece of technology that takes the world by storm, or just become "that guy/gal who waltzes around the company solving everybody's problems." An engineer like that is worth more than any tech writer will ever be, and they get paid accordingly. We all understand this.

Anyway, I'm not interested in bickering over *exactly* how much less Joe Average Tech Writer should make vs. Jane Average Engineer. My point was simply that numbers like $9/hr and $14/hr are misleading.

Furthermore, saying that technical writing is boring but easy if you can spell... that's the same as saying engineering is boring but easy if you can add and subtract.

wee
09-10-2007, 11:42 PM
Yes, engineers are valued more highly in the market -- as well they should be. I make about ten to fifteen percent less than the senior engineers. I might overlap or exceed an engineer who just transitioned from mid-level to senior. That's what I meant by "at or slightly less."

Once you try to go beyond the senior level as a tech writer, you run into a cap on your wages. Very experienced software engineers can go off and become senior architects, or invent some critical piece of technology that takes the world by storm, or just become "that guy/gal who waltzes around the company solving everybody's problems." An engineer like that is worth more than any tech writer will ever be, and they get paid accordingly. We all understand this.

Anyway, I'm not interested in bickering over *exactly* how much less Joe Average Tech Writer should make vs. Jane Average Engineer. My point was simply that numbers like $9/hr and $14/hr are misleading.

Furthermore, saying that technical writing is boring but easy if you can spell... that's the same as saying engineering is boring but easy if you can add and subtract.

You apparently work in an industry where your skills are valued. Do you work in softare? lol When I was graduating from college, tech writing jobs were becoming scarce. Companies were looking at where they could trim excess, and when it came to paying someone to write verbiage for press releases or the website, lots of companies said, "hmmm. Why pay this guy all this money? We can just make Suzie Q. in accounting do it; I heard she can spell really well." If you don't notice all the typos on things like billboards & advertising signs & even t-shirts, look around & you'll see pretty quickly that few places use tech writers & not that many average people notice, sadly. I worked briefly at a company where the proposals, which represented the company & were the lifeblood for new business, were so garbled & mangled that they were incomprehensible. I spent a couple of months completely rewriting all the proposal verbiage for the guys in that department to cut & paste. Then while I was in the middle of writing the documentation for the in-house software that ran everything they did & which half the employees couldn't figure out how to use, I was eventually down-sized (the company wasn't doing well & laid off 1/2 its people in one day, no big surprise there) because they couldn't figure out what I was doing that was worthwhile. They saw no value in the improved proposals or in having documentation for the most integral part of most of the employees' jobs, a very difficult computer program that many of them hardly knew how to use. When I left the project was given to a secretary, but I have no idea if she ever got around to it. She was the lady whose Word documents I was continually given to repair -- she didn't know how to use headers, footers, the tab key, or the Return key & just put in spaces. She worked next door to a lady who called me into her office crying, saying the IT guys just laugh at her but she had lost all her work in Excel when she changed the font. All the numbers turned into ##### signs. (sigh. The IT guys would hear problems like this & crack up, then say, "Call wee, the technical writer, she knows how to fix it & has nothing else to do all day anyway!"

The contributions of tech writers are appreciated less & less, and our efforts are noticed less & less by an increasingly dumbed-down populace. I speak of America, here, where instead of improving education we just make the tests easier so the government funding won't stop.

So I just write fiction now, and hope to make a few dollars entertaining people. As a nation we're a lot more interested in our entertainment than our education or having intelligibly-written documents. :-)

I didn't mean to be overly snarky in my first post -- because I've seen first hand how little tech writers are valued by the corporate world. As even our written communication turns into a type of shorthand, I think that eventually we'll become a dying breed -- or suddenly be very vital as the last standard-bearers, the last few noble writers who remember what sentence structure or standard spelling is...


wee

EngineerTiger
09-12-2007, 07:16 PM
Please keep in mind also that technical writing is now a very broad discipline. Many positions that are titled "techinical writer" are now more along the lines of a "technical scribe" which is little more than a glorified admin and paid accordingly. Pay ranges can go from $10 an hour to $70,000 or more a year depending on the industry, company, location, and type of technical writing expertise you will be using. Some industries pay is scaled higher to begin with.

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-14-2007, 07:07 PM
Tech writers making as much as Engineers?
ROFLMFAO
Good luck with that one.
Average salary for an entry level engineer in Burbank is 53K-65K. Average salary for an entry level tech writer is 42-53K (per salary.com).

I have noticed that my pay, as an experienced technical writer, has usually been above that of the new hired engineers. That's because one good tech writer can free up the equivalent of two engineers by taking the document production off their hands.

Shadow_Ferret
09-25-2007, 07:34 PM
$14 an hour? No.

Your pay should be equal to or slightly less than an engineer of similar experience. If not -- Houston, we have a problem.

And it's not about typing and spelling, although that helps.

As someone else pointed out the term "technical writer" can encompass a broad range of activities. Some that aren't even technical.

Depending on what they actually want done, $14 an hour entry level isn't bad. I couldn't live on it now as a family man, but as a single person with no debt, yeah, I would have jumped on that. That's almost $30,000. Not bad for a rookie.

Bella!
12-02-2007, 07:12 AM
i don't know if this is comparable, but I saw a marketing writer advertised fora software company that was around the same- high 30s. Said "writing white papers, user manuals" etc.

lykke
01-12-2008, 11:48 AM
Please keep in mind also that technical writing is now a very broad discipline.

It's worth noting that "engineer" is also a very broad term. An engineer working to resolve issues with the foam on the Space Shuttle and an engineer designing the next generation of the Xbox share little in common in terms of experience, skills and education. I can't imagine the pay scale for one sort of engineer compares in any meaningful way to another type of engineer, let alone to a different occupation entirely.

If I were considering any sort of position, I would personally pay more attention to how the salary compared to other similar positions - not just in that company, but in the area and within the industry as a whole - rather than entirely different positions within the same company.