Minneapolis Contract Rates et al.

Subject: Minneapolis Contract Rates et al.
From: Alexander Adrian Szczepaniak <szczeaa -at- ANUBIS -dot- NETWORK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 10:40:32 "CST

This is a response to Ruth's inquiry about compensation for contract writers. I
can only speak for Minneapolis, but I am interested in our cities and states.
If anyone has a survey more specific than STC's, I think everyone on the list
might be interested.

Ruth Glase wrote:

"Can anyone tell me the going hourly rates for contract technical writers in the
St. Paul/Minneapolis area? They would be working on software system
administration and end user manuals."

Ruth, as I am sure we all know, compensation is relative to field and
experience. I'll explain later. For now:

I bill $40 an hour for independent projects. If a client wants glorified word
processing (i.e., do you know Frame), I bill $25 an hour. This of course varies
per project. I pay my staff $15+ hour for busywork (formatting, book
generation, production). This works. In California I could fetch $65 an hour.

Unfortunately, it is tough to locate contracts without having established ties
to a variety of companies. I suggest you create these ties by working for a
contract house.

Also, bear in mind that contracting is very different from many traditional,
in-house technical writing positions. Contracting is much like archeaology and
politics. For the sake of brevity, I won't go into that.

In terms of working for contract houses. I think a standard rate is $25 an hour
(taxes handled by the firm). It can be as high as $50 an hour if you have
unique and specialized knowledge or an advanced degree/engineering degree.

Unless you want to get your foot in the door (prove your worth), do not accept
below $17 hour.

Contracting writing shares much in common with consulting is not the same.
Consulting can be far more lucrative: $55-220 hour.

I started in this field three years ago. I took anything I could and made only
$10 hour. Beware of pricing yourself too low. I was shocked to encounter
salary offers of 38,000 a year immediately after I accepted a 22,000 year
position with a company that billed $88,000 yr for my services.

Also, Minneapolis (like Minnesota weather) is full of extremes. Some positions
offer 18,000 a year starting and others 38,000 starting. Some contracts offer
$15 and hour, other offer $45 for the same work.

Bottom line is: Ask for more than you want, and negotiate from there.


Alex -dot- Szczepaniak -at- network -dot- com

-- Alex Szczepaniak
PS--all of the above assumes the technical writer is qualified to begin with...


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