Not All Writers Starve! Fast-Growing Career Field Offers New Opportunities

Published 02.27.1999


"U.S. News and World Report" has declared that technical writing is one of the nation's fastest-growing career fields. This is good news for the parents of sons or daughters who like to write and enjoy a creative challenge parents who might be concerned about a child's future as a "starving writer."

In fact, the average salary for a beginning technical writer is $35,500 a year, according to officials at Pennsylvania College of Technology, a Penn State affiliate in Williamsport.

Dr. Bruce Conforth, dean of the School of Integrated Studies, said Penn College is one of only 20 colleges in the United States to offer a bachelor degree-level major in Professional and Technical Writing.

On Friday, March 12, Penn College faculty will present a workshop to introduce high school students to the fast-growing, creative career field. The workshop will be held on the Penn College campus.

Technical writers produce materials for a wide range of audiences. Documents produced may include articles, audiovisual scripts, books, essays, sales and promotional brochures, commercial proposals, educational materials, employee publications, government proposals, grant proposals, instructional manuals, industrial catalogs, Internet resources, Web pages, online documents, news/press releases, newsletters, patient-care materials, product literature, software tutorials, and scientific magazine articles.

The Society for Technical Communications reports that technical writers work in a number of industries and professions: computer software (28 percent), research and development (21 percent), computer manufacturing (16 percent), financial services (17 percent), electronics (16 percent), training (12 percent), scientific research (10 percent), telecommunications (10 percent) and construction (10 percent).

Dr. Conforth said he and his faculty have identified many potential employers for graduates of the technical and professional communication major. Among the Pennsylvania companies hiring technical writers are Bell Atlantic, United Parcel Service, Black and Decker, Penske Logistics, NEC America, Lutron Electronics, Sunquest Information Systems, ProTech, Datastream System and others.

Nationally known companies that employ technical writers include Netscape, Motorola,, Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney, Intuit, Bose Corp. and others. In addition, government agencies including the State Department and the Department of Agriculture have technical writers on staff, college officials reported.

Registrations are being accepted now for the March 12 workshop at Penn College. For more information, contact Dr. Conforth at (570) 326-3761.