Technical writers are best known for their strong technical knowledge and ability to craft relevant industry documents accurately, quickly, and with ease. This is facilitated by high-quality experience and a strong academic background. It would, therefore, seem logical to assume that technical writers might bring in an impressive paycheck.
How true is that for contract writers? How much do these specialists earn, on average, and how does their experience and education impact their earning potential? Discover more in this guide.
Average Salary for Contract Writers
Contract writers fall under the broader category of technical writers. According to the latest statistics provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of these writers is $74,650. Most professionals employed in this field, meanwhile, make between $45,510 and $119,040 on a yearly basis.
As writers and authors in general earn a median salary of $67,120 per year, as per the BLS, with the majority of salaries being between $35,880 and over $133,460 annually, technical writers earn more than many, and less than some. For reference, the average annual salary across all occupations in the United States is, as of 2020, $41,950.
How do contract writers fit into this broader picture? As the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data for this sub-category, we can instead explore private platforms that track salary data. Some do so on the basis of salary amounts offered in job postings, while others rely on voluntary participants to report their earnings.
- The platform PayScale estimates that contract writers in the United States make an average base salary of $46,495 per year.
- ZipRecruiter instead reports that the national average for contract writers is closer to $37,619 per year, and they are also able to provide typical salary ranges of $20,500 to $59,000 annually.
- Glassdoor indicates an average yearly salary of $54,581 for contract writers.
- Salary.com does not supply data for contract writers, but indicates that the average annual salary for the wider category of proposal writers currently stands at $73,101.
The variation in these figures shows us that there are significant salary variations among contract writers. The precise earnings potential of any given contract writer will, therefore, largely depend on factors that relate to their education, their years of experience in the field of technical writing and contract writing in particular, and their location. Salary averages will also differ in the public vs private sector.
What Do Contract Writers Make Per Hour?
After looking at all the estimated salary average among contract writers, it is possible to conclude that most contract writers who are employed full-time will earn anywhere from $18 (based on ZipRecruiter’s data that indicates an average annual salary of nearly $38,000) to $33 (based on a higher annual salary of $67,000).
Some contract writers additionally work as freelancers. Their rates will depend on the agreements they make with each individual client, and will again vary drastically.
Salary Based on Experience
To get an idea of the amount by which a contract writer’s yearly salary is likely to increase as they accumulate experience in the field, we can look at the data Salary.com offers regarding proposal writers in general.
- With less than one year of experience, proposal writers earn an average of $70,605.
- After spending three to four years in the field, the average salary rises to $72,307.
- Seasoned proposal writers with five to seven years of experience earn an average of $75,788 per year.
Although the precise figures for contract writers will be different, these statistics show that technical writers in this field can indeed reasonably expect for their salary to increase as they gain experience.
Salary Based on Education
A similar trend can be applied to contract writers based on their educational backgrounds, as data from Salary.com suggests that:
- Those proposal writers with an Associate’s degree earn an average of $71,967 per year.
- With a Bachelor’s degree, that salary is approximately $1,000 higher each year.
- Proposal writers who hold a Master’s degree, likewise, make around $1,000 more each year as compared to those with an Associate’s degree.
- At the PhD level, proposal writers earn approximately $1,500 more than those with an Associate’s degree.
This trend indicates that contract writers can expect to earn significantly more if they have completed a Bachelor’s degree. In fact, most employers will actively require that contract writers have a Bachelor’s degree, and with an Associate’s degree, it will be markedly harder to find employment. However, the data also shows that going beyond a Bachelor’s does not tend to increase the expected annual salary very much. In short, a Bachelor’s degree is more than sufficient to kick-start your career in this area.
Top Paying States for Contract Writers
Many of the highest paying jobs for contract writers are based in California, the information collected by ZipRecruiter shows. Other states in which contract writer jobs that pay more than the average national salary can be found include Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, and Maryland.
The fact that employers which are based in these particular states tend to offer higher yearly salaries does not mean that aspiring or current contract writers based in other states should despair or immediately consider moving, however, as contract writing vacancies can be found all over the United States. Candidates can negotiate their salaries once they receive a job offer.
Job Outlook for Contract Writers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job vacancies for technical writers will grow by 12 percent in the coming 10 years. This represents a much higher growth rate than the expected growth across all occupations, which currently stands at eight percent.
The BLS further notes that job opportunities are rapidly opening up for technical writers in scientific, professional, and technical services. That is good news for contract writers who will also fall under these growth projections.
When the projected job growth in this area is combined with the fact that most contract writers will enjoy steady salary increases as their experience in the field expands, it is fair to say that contract writers have a very positive job outlook.
What Exactly Does a Contract Writer Do?
Contract writers will engage in a variety of duties over the course of a typical week. The types of duties a contract writer can expect to engage in include the following:
- Work with other members of a wider team to evaluate the current needs of the employer.
- Engage in in-depth research to ensure that contracts are in line with relevant laws.
- Write up contracts in accordance with the needs of the employer.
- Edit or revise contracts as necessary, standardizing them in the process.
- Where necessary, contract writers maintain professional relationships that allow the contract writer to better understand the needs of third parties.
To build a successful career, a contract writer will depend on a diverse set of skills, and always strive to keep their professional knowledge up to date by following relevant developments in the field.
How to Become a Contract Writer?
The majority of employers looking for contract writers will require that candidates possess a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. They may welcome a graduate degree, but are unlikely to require it.
The top-paying employers will also, however, highly value relevant industry experience. For this reason, many contract writers will begin their careers by working for smaller businesses and even non-profit organizations. They may also opt to work on a freelance basis.
Much of the insider knowledge seasoned contract writers depend on every day was gained on the job, and with the right experience and mentoring, higher-paying caeer opportunities will soon begin opening up.
Qualifications to Be a Contract Writer
Most contract writers will have a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications, business management, or law. A combination of, for instance, training as a paralegal and a degree in journalism can also open up job opportunities for aspiring contract writers.
Skills needed to Be a Contract Writer
In addition to the prerequisite set of technical skills which include writing and research skills, contract writers will gain an edge if they possess:
- Resilience and the ability to quickly adapt to changes. This is a fast-paced field and also one that will require numerous last-minute revisions.
- Strong interpersonal skills are essential as well, as contract writers collaborate with employers or clients as well as third parties. To be able to prepare the correct documentation, it is crucial to understand the needs of all stakeholders.
- Solid problem-solving skills and the ability to propose solutions independently.
Can You Be a Contract Writer Without a Degree?
Some contract writers may have an Associate’s degree, but it is highly unlikely that job seekers who have only earned a high school diploma will be able to land a job as a contract writer. T