Discussing money is always difficult when it comes to jobs. People tend to exaggerate (and sometimes downplay) how much money they make. Also, because of the variation in benefits, a job that pays $60,000 a year might be a better deal than a job that pays $70,000 a year if the first job has benefits such as fully paid insurance, stock options, bonuses, and 401k matching and the second job does not. Also, in times when the job market and economy are bad (as they have been for a couple of years now). A new position might pay less than the average of employees who were hired during a better job market. On the flip side, when the job market is hot a new hire may suddenly become the highest-paid writer on the staff.

Another variable to consider is location. For example, San Francisco technical writers, according to my source, make about 20% above the national average. Just down the road in Sacramento, technical writers tend to make 11% less than the national average. Also tied to location is the cost of living. Just because one city pays more than another doesn’t mean you’ll be better off in a higher paying city if the cost of living is much higher as well.

My research source is Indeed.com/salary. I prefer it because it isn’t based on reported salaries from workers. It is based on the rates posted in the job listings that Indeed aggregates. For me, this makes it more accurate, as long as the profession is one in which few people run scams. I trust it for technical writers because almost all postings for technical writers are legitimate. I do not trust it for jobs such as blogging, because there are many scam postings for bloggers that promise far more money than seems possible.

That said, here are the national (USA) averages for technical writers and related fields:

  • Junior Technical Writer – $54,000
  • Technical Writer – $74,000
  • Senior Technical Writer – $88,000
  • Lead Technical Writer – $96,000
  • Scientific Writer – $76,000
  • Documentation Specialist – $62,000
  • Instructional Designer $77,000

Here are some average salaries from different cities across the country for the vanilla title of “technical writer”.

  • Atlanta, GA – $77,000
  • Austin, TX – $86,000
  • Baltimore, MD – $74,000
  • Bend, OR – $64,000
  • Boise, ID – $58,000
  • Chicago, IL – $83,000
  • Cleveland, OH – $62,000
  • Columbus, GA – $64,000
  • Dallas, TX – $69,000
  • Denver, CO – $68,000
  • Des Moines, IA – $60,000
  • Grand Junction, CO – $60,000
  • Los Angeles, CA – $74,000
  • Louisville, KY – 58,000
  • Memphis, TN – $60,000
  • Miami, FL – $70,000
  • Mobile, AL – $63,000
  • New York, NY – $90,000
  • Oklahoma City, OK – $62,000
  • Omaha, NB – $74,000
  • Philadelphia, PA $68,000
  • Phoenix, AZ – $63,000
  • Portland, OR – $64,000
  • Providence, RI – $64,000
  • RTP, NC – $69,000
  • Sacramento, CA – $67,000
  • Salt Lake City, UT – $58,000
  • San Diego, CA – $68,000
  • San Francisco, CA – $97,000
  • Seattle, WA – $76,000
  • St. Paul, MN – $64,000
  • Tucson, AZ – $62,000

Full disclosure: Indeed.com has an affiliate relationship with my blog, but the link in this article is not an affiliate link.

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