Job Market and Labor Demand
Estimates put the number of people currently employed in the area of technical communication in Germany at around 85,000. The demand for qualified technical communicators and skilled personnel for technical communication is great. Based on projections, there are 4,000 open positions recorded in this area annually (in Germany).
What profiles are sought after?
We are looking for graduates in technical communication or related fields of study. Technical communicators also need lateral entrants with a different professional training background who have or are acquiring additional training and formal qualifications in technical communication. Most of them are engineers, but qualified workers with other technical backgrounds also have good employment opportunities. You can find out more about this in the "Career changers" section.
The salary for technical communicators is dependent on the location of the company, size of the company, professional experience and position but is usually aligned with the salary of engineers. For the latest data please refer to the tekom salary tracker.
Depending on the size of the company, the technical communicator is a generalist who takes care of the entire development process of technical documentation from start to finish, or – as is usually the case in large companies –performs specific tasks in the technical documentation development process and has a specialized job profile. In addition, the job profiles differ according to the respective work experience.
Possible job profiles in technical communication are:
Junior Technical Communicator
The Junior Technical Communicator is involved in the technical documentation creation process. He mainly handles content creation tasks using various tools. In doing so, he must observe guidelines, for example from the areas of law and standards or from the editorial guidelines. He is responsible for information procurement and selection.
The technical communicator is also involved in the technical documentation creation process. Beyond the pure creation of content, he takes on conceptual tasks. He implements legal and normative requirements in technical documentation as well as concepts for standardization. In addition to pure print or PDF documentation, he also deals with multimedia content and uses appropriate tools, depending on the publication medium. He often also takes responsibility for the publication.
The team leader's main focus is on planning. He leads the team, organizes the creation process and supports the creation of content. The team leader is responsible for personnel.
The head of the editing department is responsible for planning, as is the team leader. He also supervises concept development, content creation and the development of internal guidelines, also checking compliance with these. He primarily has a planning, advisory and supporting function and makes decisions, e.g. on tool introductions. He performs management tasks and is also responsible for personnel.
The project manager is responsible for projects that he plans and, during implementation, controls and monitors. In contrast to the head of the editorial department, he has no management tasks and is not responsible for personnel. He manages information development as well as special projects, e.g. a tool introduction.
In particular, large companies with a high translation workload employ translation managers. They are responsible for planning translations and localization and manage translations in cooperation with the translators or service providers.
(Source: Methods of target audience profiling for professional and competence profiles of the tekom competence framework. Bachelor thesis by Jaqueline Probian)
In addition to these, the most important profiles, there are other specialized job roles in the field of technical communication, such as legal and standards/CE officers, document managers, terminology managers, editors and media managers.
Where and how can I find suitable job offers?
Current vacancies can be found in the tekom job bank. Also recommended for job searching are meta-job search engines that use search terms such as "technical documentation" and "technical communicator" to deliver a large number of hits, such as Indeed.
Salary and career
Depending on their background experience, technical communicators work in companies as career starters, employees, project managers, team leaders or department heads in the field of technical communication. With an appropriate degree, further advancement is possible.
The salaries of technical communicators depend on the company headquarters, the size of the company, professional experience and position, but are usually based on engineers’ income. Current data can be found in the tekom salary chart.
Information volume on the whole is continuously increasing.Company-wide standards in information management, such as integrated corporate design or uniform terminology, are catching on.Information from different sources generated in complex processes, within companies or externally, must be integrated.
Management tasks in technical communication also include assumption of management accountability, e.g.:
Personnel management, development and procurementGoal definition, planningResource provisionCalculation, budget creation, controllingPurchasing/procurement, e.g. of translation servicesEditing guidelines and standardsImplementation of company-wide requirements, e.g. in the area of qualityRepresentation of technical communication within the company as well as strategic planning, etc.Innovation and strategic projectsCross-departmental process optimization
Awareness of the added value of technical communication and its contribution to a company's success is growing. Technical communication as an operational function is emancipating itself. This means increasingly more cross-sectional and managerial tasks for technical communication departments and for technical communicators. They assume responsibility for the translation and terminology management, operate intranets and act as information and content managers. They are evolving into in-house information service providers, collaborating with external partners and service providers. The functional and structural development involves organizational and personnel adjustments: specialized personnel are in urgent demand, new management levels are created and managerial positions must be staffed. The perspectives go far beyond purely operative levels. In professional practice, 50% of employees do not have a leadership position, as compared to 20% of executives and managing directors with leadership positions.