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John Kunney

Ever consider a career in technical writing? English majors are in high demand for this field. For the most part you could work for various industries writing technical manuals on how to use or maintain their products. For me one minute I could be writing a manual for a cargo plane, the next for a tactical fighter, or the next an unmanned aerial vehicle (or UAV). The subjects of the manuals are always changing and are very exciting to work with. I would have to write manuals on how to remove and install parts and components, maintain, inspect, or operate the product.

What I also love the most about my job is I pretty much work on my own. My boss isn t always looking over my shoulder and I can work at my own pace. My writing skills are always tested as well as my creativity. What I also like the most about my job is that I work as a freelancer where I m basically my own boss. I get to travel a lot since most of my clients rarely exist in one spot. One minute I could be working for Boeing in St. Louis, the next I could be working for Lockheed Martin in Marietta Georgia or Northrop Grumman in St. Augustine Florida. On top of this most companies are willing to pay for your living expenses if you agree to take on the project.

Keep in mind that business writing (no matter what field) is in constant demand every year and will need very talented writers to carry out the task at hand. The question you should also ask yourself is do you want to work full-time or do you want to be a freelancer?

As a full-timer employee you’ll dedicate yourself to one company and make a career within that institution while climbing the ladder to your success. It does pay well and you will be provided benefits, but you won’t make as much money working full-time as you would as a freelancer like me. We tend to get paid more however we’re in charge of acquiring and maintaining our own benefits like health care because we’re considered self-employed. Also the work we do for our clients can last anywhere from two to 12 months or longer. After which your assignment will end and then you’ll have to find a new client. Hopefully you’ll already have a substantial amount of money in your savings to live without work for a while (which I call the extended vacation) before your start work again.

Now in regards to the matter of a paycheck. Make sure that your one of your writing jobs pays by the hour while you pursue the other that doesn't if you're pursuing another career in creative writing. I'm a creative writer who is still trying to write that best seller, but I'm not getting paid by the hour to produce it. However, my primary job (freelance technical writer) no matter what phase of the writing process I'm in, I always get paid by the hour even if I'm not finished with the manual I'm drafting.

As for the pay itself you will be compensated well enough to get by. Working in the technical writing industry one can make anywhere between 50 to over 100K a year. Proposal and SQL Report writing you can make even more. But keep in mind that this is after you had at least five years’ experience.

Answered 2 years ago

John Kunney