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Technical Writer

Technical writers translate complex technical information into clear and understandable language. They shape and deliver information to meet the needs of a target audience.

Also Known As

Information Developer, Information Designer, Professional Information Communicator, Technical Communicator, Writer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Technical Writers (5121.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Authors and Writers (F021) 
  • 2011 NOC: Authors and writers (5121) 
  • 2016 NOC: Authors and writers (5121) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Technical Writers

2006 NOC: 5121.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to write manuals, user guides and other documents; may assist in the preparation and layout of publications

METHODICAL

Interest in instructing to explain the installation, operation and maintenance of software and electronic, mechanical and other equipment

objective

Interest in understanding the operation and functioning of software and equipment to prepare and write manuals, user guides and other documents

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Technical writers produce information for audiences ranging from novices to technical experts. In general, they write online content, reference materials, and educational materials. They write procedural and policy manuals, user guides, and proposals. They also write technical reports and instructional materials. Their work explains the installation, operation, and maintenance of mechanical, electronic, and other equipment. This can include oil industry equipment, computer applications, and other things. Technical writers:

  • Research subjects by consulting subject matter experts (SMEs), using products themselves, and analyzing reference materials, such as specifications, blueprints, diagrams, maintenance manuals, reports, and studies
  • Gather information about target-audience needs
  • Analyze how to structure and format information to meet audience needs
  • Prepare a plan to monitor and report on progress in developing each document
  • Select appropriate technology and media to deliver technical information
  • Use web development, social media, and content management systems to manage content in multiple media environments
  • Develop and a house style guide outlining style and formatting, and encourage others to use it consistently
  • Create auxiliary resources, such as diagrams or interactive learning processes, if required
  • Rewrite and edit drafts after they have been reviewed by SMEs for accuracy
  • Test products, especially software and hardware
  • Manage documentation projects, including translation and localization, if required
  • Learn and apply the best writing style for the intended audience
  • Identify the purpose and key elements of the main technical communicator (TC) documentation types
  • Correct common mistakes in writing

Technical writers may define terms in glossary format. They may index or cross-reference information. They may obtain copyright permissions to reprint material. They may work independently or as part of a team. The team may include scientists, engineers, computer specialists, management personnel, editors, other writers, illustrators, media specialists, or videographers.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Technical writers who work for mid-sized or large organizations most often work standard office hours. Overtime sometimes is required to meet deadlines. Contract writers working from home can set their own hours. However, they must be prepared for long hours to complete projects on time. Many contract writers are required to work in offices during normal business hours. There can be stress associated with meeting deadlines.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Technical writers need:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Organizational, time-management, and project-management skills
  • The ability to deal with and learn from criticism
  • The ability to handle multiple requests during high-pressure periods
  • Translation skills and intercultural sensitivity
  • The ability to write clearly, such as definitions and procedures
  • The ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects and deadlines

They should enjoy gathering and synthesizing information. They should like taking a methodical approach to explaining procedures and finding out how things are built and operate. Understanding their role as technical communicator, including translation skills and intercultural sensitivity, is a definite asset.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Authors and writers

2016 NOC: 5121

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 12 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 19, 2021 and Dec 06, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Computer Applications: MS Word
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Computer Applications: MS Excel
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Minimum Education Varies

There are no standard education requirements for technical writers. In general, they need to be strong writers with excellent grammar. They need to understand plain language, presentation formats, and readability principles. They also need:

  • Knowledge of technology ranging from basic to expert, depending on the project
  • Skills with research, interviewing, and analysis
  • User-centred design and testing skills
  • Editing and proofreading skills

Most employers prefer to hire writers with related post-secondary education or experience. They should be able to supply samples of their work online and in a portfolio. Practical writing and design layout experience is an asset. They may gain this experience through part-time or entry-level positions with corporate communications departments, publishing companies, or by doing web and mobile development work. Volunteer work may provide opportunities to gain experience and build portfolios.

Technical writers must keep up with new communications technologies, particularly those involving multimedia and the internet. They must keep their skills and knowledge current through professional development activities. These can include continuing education courses, workshops, online courses and conferences, reading, and communicating with others in their field. An interest in emerging technologies is beneficial in helping writers develop and present information effectively.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Technical writers may be employed full time, part time, or on a contract basis. They may work for public organizations or businesses, such as:

  • Software development companies, internet design firms, and multimedia content providers
  • Schools and training companies
  • Publishers
  • Corporate communications and human resource departments
  • Agricultural, engineering, and manufacturing firms
  • Construction companies and safety organizations
  • Research laboratories
  • Oil and gas companies
  • Military contractors
  • Government departments and non-profit organizations
  • Medical technology firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Media and mobile businesses
  • Financial institutions

Experienced writers may advance to supervisory or management positions. With the required knowledge and skills, they may move into related occupations. For more information, see the the Instructional Designer, Editor, Graphic Designer, Translator, Interactive Media Programmer, or Training and Development Professional occupational profiles.

Technical writers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5121: Authors and writers. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (pdf) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Alberta, the 5121: Authors and writers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Authors and writers

2016 NOC: 5121
Average Wage
$36.47
Per Hour
Average Salary
$71,124.00
Per Year
Average Hours
37.9
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5121 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.23 $38.46 $30.09 $31.25
Overall $21.54 $50.46 $36.47 $35.58
Top $23.13 $132.21 $58.73 $41.29

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
46%
46%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
19%
19%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
0%
0%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Society for Technical Communication website: stc.org

Technology Alberta website: technologyalberta.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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