Features May/June 2024

Hiring Trends in Technical Communication

A snapshot of the latest trends, methods, and technologies sought by technical communication hiring managers.

By Jack Molisani, Fellow

Every four years or so, I survey hiring managers about which authoring tools they are using and what they look for when hiring a technical writer (regarding tools, as opposed to soft skills like interviewing or negotiation skills). Here are some recent findings.

Number of Job Openings

I started each survey by doing a search of “technical writer” on the major job boards, looking for an indicator of how many companies are hiring. (Keep in mind that over the years job titles have evolved into such names as “information engineer,” “content developer,” etc. Such names would not be included in my brief title search.) A search for “technical writer” on CareerBuilder, DICE, and Monster returned:

A search for Technical Writer jobs that also had “DITA” returned the following (“DITA” was not included in the 2006 search):

Out of curiosity, I searched Indeed for just “DITA” and it returned 97 results. The job titles included “DITA Specialist,” “Knowledge Management Developer,” and “Technical Writer,” illustrating my earlier point that other job titles would not be included in my search for just “Technical Writers.”

Not being able to find meaningful trends from any of the above numbers, I assume the results are more indicative of how popular the job platforms are, rather than the actual number of job openings in our field.

I then turned to a source of data that might be more dependable, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Searching the BLS website for “Technical Writer” returned the following in their Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The bad news is I couldn’t find previous years’ data on the BLS website, but the good news the BLS predicts a 7% growth in our field over the next 10 years! I’ll use these numbers as a baseline for my next periodic survey.

Survey Results

In the survey, I posed the following questions to documentation managers. The source of historical data included members of the STC Management Special Interest Group (44 respondents). The Management SIG unfortunately no longer exists, so for 2024, I posted the survey to the LinkedIn Documentation and Technical Writing Management group (24 respondents).

Here are the results.

Note: The limited number of responses may not be an exact reflection of the industry as a whole.

Does your company publish documentation and/or User Assistance (UA) online?

If so, in what formats?

Assuming you were hiring, which authoring tools/technology would you want the UA writer to know? (Select all that apply)

Which tools/technologies/knowledge will writers need to know in the future?


  • All the Microsoft products and WordPress.
  • BPMS, real estate accounting, financial management
  • Categorization of information (information mapping or information “chunking”)
  • Confluence
  • Designing content for and writing content for mobile devices.
  • DITA, CCMS, DITA XML authoring tools such as oXygen
  • Doesn’t matter, content matters. No tools alone will provide sensible assistance. Single sourcing and content re-use will survive the longest.
  • HTML5
  • In addition to DITA, XML, and HTML, Knowledge Base authoring, wiki authoring, graphics tools, along with expertise in use cases, user journey mapping, minimalism, user experience/design.
  • Ionic Framework and Visual Studio
  • Javascript
  • MadCap Flare
  • Markdown, GitHub, asciidoctor
  • Mobile authoring and presentation, content delivery from one device to another (IoT: if your refrigerator is truly talking to your grocery store, what should it say?) metadata, preliminary info about big data/data sciences
  • MS office, Adobe FrameMaker,
  • Multi-source publishing
  • Scripting, Python
  • We only publish PDFs so I’m not sure what tools are used.
  • XML. CSS. JavaScript. Video production. Social media.


  • A basic understanding of one or more tools is enough—if they’re a talented writer in user-centered content, they will have the skills to pick up another tool. That said, our tools are super basic, so I can’t speak to the more complex options
  • Ability to quickly manage and edit a high volume of drafts submitted by product owners who may or may not be good writers, and who may or may not be using AI to produce tech doc.
  • AI prompt writing, all open source stacks that can be leveraged to deliver content where needed, esp. git and code navigation
  • AI Prompting (How to), DITA, XML, Structured writing
  • AI, LLMs
  • GPT optimization; Content analytics; User Journey tracking;
  • How to use embedded AI-based assistants through the content development workflow
  • I think they will need a better understanding of tools associated with AI.
  • Structured Authoring Tools: MadCap Flare, Oxygen XML Author, Collaboration platforms: Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Google Workspace Screen Capture, Recording Software: Snagit, Camtasia, Adobe Captivate, Localiz
  • Top tool/tech/knowledge: AI Prompt Engineering
  • Web based authoring tools in general (e.g., Figma, Google Docs, and yet to come such apps…).

As the producer of a conference about digital publishing, I observe how trends come and go. A few years ago, everyone was saying the future of content delivery was mobile. The next year, the future was all about chatbots. Two years ago, the future was VR and the metaverse. Last year (and this year), the future is AI-enabled everything.

I feel the survey results represent what always happens in our industry—what’s the latest technology to hit our industry? We have to learn that!

Karen McGrane, the author of Content Strategy for Mobile, did a great presentation a few years ago called, Content in a Zombie Apocalypse. It seems like every time there is a quantum leap in publishing, people run around yelling the corporate equivalent of “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” No, the sky is not falling, and no, this is not the zombie apocalypse.

Is AI going to take our jobs? I think not. Will it help streamline what we do and increase efficiency? I think so. We as technical communicators document new technology all the time. That’s what we do. Ditto for learning the latest innovations in publishing technology.

What I glean from the survey data is that hiring managers want you to know the basic tools of the trade, plus structured authoring, plus whatever the latest publishing technology is on the rise (currently, AI).

But that’s what we’ve always done, right?

Jack Molisani is an STC Fellow, and the President of ProSpring Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals (both contract and perm): https://ProspringStaffing.com He’s also the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list. Jack also produces The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management: https://LavaCon.org. Connect with Jack on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackmolisani/