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Right or wrong, here is one organization's take on the difference; note the two different categories. In my previous (software industry) job, my title changed to Doc Specialist because the HR dept started using Salary's job designations.
***Documentation Specialist (Category: IT -- Computers, Software)
Prepares and/or maintains documentation pertaining to programming, systems operation and user documentation. Translates business specifications into user documentation. Plans, writes, and maintains systems and user support documentation efforts, including online help screen. May require an associate's degree in a related area and 0-2 years of experience in the field or in a related area. Has knowledge of commonly-used concepts, practices, and procedures within a particular field. Relies on instructions and pre-established guidelines to perform the functions of the job. Works under immediate supervision. Primary job functions do not typically require exercising independent judgment. Typically reports to a supervisor or manager.
In Seattle, the median salary is $50,494. There is also a Sr. Doc Specialist with a median of $72,084.
***Technical Writer I (Category: Printing and Publishing)
Writes a variety of technical articles, reports, brochures, and/or manuals for documentation for a wide range of uses. May be responsible for coordinating the display of graphics and the production of the document. May require a bachelor's degree in a related area and 0-2 years of experience in the field or in a related area. Has knowledge of commonly-used concepts, practices, and procedures within a particular field. Relies on instructions and pre-established guidelines to perform the functions of the job. Primary job functions do not typically require exercising independent judgment. Works under immediate supervision; typically reports to a supervisor or manager.
In Seattle, the median salary is $45,176. There are also Tech Writer 2 through 4 descriptions. Tech Writer 3 median salary is $64,542; Tech Writer 4 is $70,342.
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