Susan Burton, exec. director of the STC, mentioned in her presentation to our chapter last week that the Bureau of Labor calculates the average salaries of technical writers at around 31K, whereas STC's surveys indicate that the average is about 41K. This discrepancy hurts the salaries of technical writers in their employment, because employers use Bureau of Labor statistics to determine salaries for their technical writer positions.
There are so many variables in setting a salary -- from location to years of experience, specific field niche, programs/tools used, company size, etc. It's tough to calculate averages and find out if you're being paid what you're worth.
Along comes Payscale. Payscale is a Web 2.0 application in which you enter all the of the details of your salary situation, even including, if you want, the name of your company. Payscale then compares your salary against others who have entered similar details.
As more people enter information, the salaries become more and more accurate. It really is an amazing tool that will gain more respect as participation increases. When I entered my info, there were three others who had entered similar information (e.g., job title, city, company size, years of experience, managerial/non-managerial roles, and so on).
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.