I did not make up the annual income figure in the headline. That is the Average Annual Wage earned by technical communicators across the United States in 2007 according to the “2007 Technical Communicator Salary Survey” conducted by Society for Technical Communication.
For example, in California, technical writers made as low as $43,490 (the bottom 10th percentile) in 2007 and as high as $110,220 (the top 10th percentile). For the United States as a whole annual wages for technical writers ranged between a low of $36,490 and a high of $94,550.
If you live in Washington DC greater metropolitan area (which includes Northern Virginia and part of Maryland), for example, and like to write about finance, generate Sarbanes-Oxley documentation, and also have at least 5 years of tech writing experience under your belt, you can find a tech writer position through a recruitment firm that fetches high five-figures a year as an independent contractor, without any supervisory responsibilities. The only “down side” to such an arrangement is you pay most of your own medical benefits and that can add up to $1,000 dollars a month for a family of four.
The point is: just because you like writing does not mean you need to live a life of want and destitute. If you are sick and tired of not making the ends meet as a writer you owe it to yourself to check out technical writing.
Not only the average tech writer in the United States made over $62K in 2007 but those working within a corporate environment enjoyed a rich benefits package as well.
Just like the engineers and the managers they work with, most tech writers enjoy medical insurance for themselves and their families, paid leaves and vacations, 401K and sometimes even retirement plans, dental and vision coverage, reimbursement of college-credit classes, etc.
UPDATE: The demand for technical writers across many industries and geographic regions in the United States, Canada, Europe and in emerging Asian niches like Bangalore, India has fallen off a bit lately since currently we are in a world-wide recession. But as I said in my other posts, compared to other types of writing, technical writing is still one of the best writing options out there today.