This report is based on input from 66 freelance technical writers. Although this is far fewer than for salaried employees it is by far the most detailed survey yet. All rates are those actually charged, not asking rates.
Direct Rate vs. Market Rate
Direct Rate = the rate charged by contractors who work directly with the client and does not include data from subcontractors.
Market Rate = the rate charged the client. This includes data from subcontractors who know what rate the client was charged.
Sub Rate = the rate received by the sub contractor.
Average, Median and Percentiles
Average is calculated by adding up all salaries and dividing the sum by the number of salaries reported. Average = SUM / # of entries.
Median is what is the salary for the person in the middle, with the same number of people earning the same or more as those earning that salary or less.
Percentiles are a ranking of entries with the lowest at 1 and the highest at 100.
25% salary means that 25% earn that salary or less, and 75% earn that salary or more. This is a low-end salary - most writers earn more.
50% salary means that 50% earn that salary or less, and 50% earn that salary or more. This is what the average, run-of-the-mill technical writer should expect to earn.
75% salary means that 75% earn that salary or less, and 25% earn that salary or more. This is what a writer who is the starting point for a high-end salary.
90% salary means that 90% earn that salary or less, and 10% earn that salary or more. This is a high-end salary - these figures are not included in this report, but I do have them for personal consulting.
Direct RateMarket RateSub Rate
I did not have time to prepare statistics on this breakdown for Q1. Hopefully I will have time to prepare this breakdown in Q2.
Clients pay higher hourly rates for contractors with 5-10 experience than for those with more experience. At the moment I am unable to determine whether this is due to age discrimination or other factors. Possible other factors include the impact of retainer based rates being more prevalent among writers with more than 10 years experience and companies offering attractive salaries to bring experienced writers in house.
With subcontractors on the other hand, there is a direct correlation between experience and hourly rates.
Direct Rate <5Direct Rate 5-10Direct Rate >10Market Rates
Mrkt Rate <5Mrkt Rate 5-10Mrkt Rate >10Subcontractor Rates
Sub Rate <5Sub Rate 5-10Sub Rate >10
Std Deviation$5.58$10.32$6.77Std Deviation$4.16$10.32$6.77Std Deviation$1.51$5.03$6.58
This breakdown is not included in this report. There is enough data, but I haven't had the time prepare the breakdowns.
Wow! This is a surprise. Take a look at the high end! Women are making more than men as contractors.