If you're a student, you're probably young. You're almost out of college. Where are you going to live? If you want a job in technical writing, you probably need to live in a major city. Most technical writing jobs are located in places where there are IT companies. The more IT companies, the more technical writing jobs.
Indeed.com shows you trends for IT jobs by location.
It's no secret here. The top locations are New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, D.C., Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Austin, and Los Angeles -- all major cities.
Last year, Doug Davis wrote an article about where the most technical writing jobs are. He identifies a similar list of cities:
San Jose, California ( Silicon Valley)
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
New York, New York
Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
Los Angeles/Anaheim, California
Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Research Triangle)
The most recent STC Salary survey database (from 2008) maps a geographic distribution of technical writers and finds the following:
The states with the most technical writers are California, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan and Maryland. Only Wyoming seems to have not reported technical writers.
According to U.S. News, the 10 best places for tech jobs are Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Huntsville Alabama, New York, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
I recommend moving to a major city that appeals to you. If you're really adventurous, you could even move to India. But seriously, location matters. I know that I'll never live in a rural area such as Wyoming because there aren't many technical writing jobs there, as beautiful as Wyoming is.
Moving to a new location, however, is harder than it looks. Rarely will a company hire you from afar. When I was living in Florida looking for a job in Utah, the remote location turned recruiters and employers off immediately. Fortunately my wife's family is in Utah, so while I was vacationing in Utah, I interviewed for a handful of positions here. Then it wasn't such a problem that I was currently residing in Florida, and a good company eventually offered me a job.
Note: If you think moving to a new city is difficult fresh out of college, try uprooting yourself with three kids and a mortgage payment on a house in a recessed economy. Also, forget about landing that contract position in another state and working remotely from home – it just doesn't happen with entry-level writers.
However you manage to do it, go where the jobs are.
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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.