TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Acceptable salary levels From:Elna -dot- Tymes -at- SYNTEX -dot- COM Date:Fri, 13 Jan 1995 16:52:29 PDT
In article <3f3q1u$npm -at- newsbf02 -dot- news -dot- aol -dot- com>, <cjbenz -at- aol -dot- com> writes:
> Regarding STC's salary survey, I just found the results too vague and
> statistically insignificant to be of much value. I doubt, too, that the
> survey is in any way statistically valid given that:
> 1) Less than 5% of the membership responded.
> 2) The responses were returned only by those people who chose to do so.
> Also, because the survey was limited to STC members, the results, at best,
> can only reflect the salaries of STC members. Do STC members make more or
> less money on average? Who knows?
> I noticed, BTW, that 98% of U.S. Writers/Editors received health-insurance
> benefits. It certainly sounds to me like the majority of survey
> respondents were full-time employees. Maybe they were the only ones who
> could afford the time to fill out the survey! (No offense intended to
> full-time employees; just pointing out a potential statistical flaw...)
I second your questions and suggestions. As I've pointed out elsewhere, STC
may be honored in other parts of the country, but they're a laughable
non-player in Silicon Valley. Any attempt to survey the "membership" of STC
in Silicon Valley would get salaries from headhunters and editors, not
likely from writers.
There are some personnel services (e.g., Radford) who do annual surveys of the
"local" area and maintain a database of the salaries of what I refer to as
"captive" employees. For instance, I could get salary averages and ranges for
four classifications of technical writer, several of desktop publisher, several
of graphic artist, plus a couple of publications manager, all with data drawn
from Silicon Valley. You have to subscribe to Radford - it's a service - and
salary information is password protected so generally HR people are the only
ones who can get it for you. But it's a LOT more statistically valid than the
STC survey. Radford, I understand, is a national operation, so what's true
for one "local" area will not necessarily be true for another.
Further, I would bet lunch at my favorite (Fresh Choice) that there are almost
as many contractors doing technical writing as there are "captives," and that
of the "captives" who might be included in the STC survey there are a
significant number IN SILICON VALLEY who categorize themselves as employees of
their own company -- in other words, they're incorporated and the contract is
between their own company and a client. Hence if they have a "salary" and
health benefits, it's because they funnel their money through their own
That makes it kinda strange when someone from some other part of the country
says that they can get by on writing books for publishers -- I know what the
going advance/royalty rate is, and I know that I could do 4-6 or more per year.
However, I can make significantly more money as a contractor here. For a
person living elsewhere, a total annual income of $35-40,000, which could be
done from authored books, might be totally satisfactory.