One of the most important decisions you will have to make at the beginning of your technical writing career is whether you will work full-time for a company or try your hand at freelancing. There are several compelling arguments for both options, and neither choice is perfect for everybody. Following is a side-by-side comparison of the two options that may help you decide which one would be better for you.
Full-time: A technical writer who works for a company on a full-time basis can expect to earn a decent living, particularly in areas like Northern California, where the demand for technical writers is quite high. The earning potential for full-time technical writers, however, is somewhat limited in that they earn a set amount during each pay period.
Freelance: Something that is quite attractive to many considering freelance technical writing is that the earning potential is essentially unlimited. If a person can secure good clients and is willing to put in a lot of hours, they can often earn more than their full-time counterparts.
Full-time: The number of technical writing job opportunities for full-time technical writers is largely dependent on where the individual resides. In places like Utah, for instance, there will obviously be fewer opportunities than there would be in a place like Silicon Valley. A full-time technical writer is limited to pursuing job opportunities in his or her immediate geographic area.
Freelance: The beauty of freelance technical writing is that it can be done from anywhere that has an Internet connection. A freelancer can apply to jobs in other states or countries, so there are many more job opportunities.
Full-time: For those who crave job security, full-time technical writing is definitely the best choice. Get in with a stable company, prove yourself, and you'll likely have a job for many years.
Freelance: Although many technical writers do build up a steady and stable freelance business, there isn't a lot of real job security. Clients can decide to go with a different freelancer for their next project, or they may only call on the freelancer once every few months. A successful freelancer always has to be on the lookout for more work, so this route may not be the best for everyone.
Full-time: Aside from the occasional overtime shift, you'll likely be able to enjoy a good work/life balance as a full-time technical writer. You can put in your time at the office, come home, and forget about work until you walk into the building the next day.
Freelance: Many people have a romantic view of freelancing, but the truth is that striking that work/life balance can be tough. You never really leave the office, so it can be tempting to check email, apply for a few jobs, or finish up an assignment after the work day is officially over.
Last Updated: 05/05/2014