THE 2009
The WritersUA Salary Survey

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For Software User Assistance Professionals

WritersUA Salary SurveyA central element of any job we hold is the compensation we receive. While compensation is only one factor in our descision to accept a position, it's how many of us keep score and the way all of us pay the bills. The WritersUA Salary Survey provides you with detailed and comprehensive information about compensation for user assistance professionals. Our 2009 Salary Survey results were viewed on our web site by over 21,000 visitors. We hope you find these new survey results useful in gauging where you stand amongst your peers.

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From January 8, 2009, through February 1, 2009, we accepted responses via a survey form on our WritersUA web site. The final results presented here represent 530 responses from people in the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world. We appreciate the input from everyone who participated!

The total annual user assistance payroll represented by just these respondents is in the neighborhood of $35 million USD. The links at the top of each page, including this one, take you to an analysis of the areas where we identify significant results.

We separated the following groups of responses from the main data set: Canada, Other than U.S./Canada, Part-time (individuals working less than 35 hours per week), and Contractors (independent contractor or through an agency). These groups have significantly different data values than the core group. The data for these groups is not included on any other pages of the survey, including this one. We did not receive enough responses to publish statistics for those groups.

This study comes with a couple of biases. First, the majority of respondents are most likely on the contact list of WritersUA (WinWriters Inc.). We received most of the responses in response to email broadcasts we made to our mailing list. However, the WritersUA constituency is large (10,000+) and probably is a fair representation of the overall user assistance community. The survey was also announced on user groups related to technical communication and user assistance. We allowed anyone to participate and we did not require any personal identification.


Women make up 68% of the respondents; a slightly higher percentage than last year. Men earned, on average, $75,321 compared to $76,183 for women.

Salary Range

The overall average U.S. salary is $75,895 - essentially the same as last year. The salaries range from $29,500 to $175,000 and fall into the following quartile groupings:

(in $1,000s)
Lower quartile29-60
Second quartile61-72
Third quartile73-86
Top quartile87-175


While the bulk of this survey report focuses on salary, employee benefits can add up to a significant value. These often include medical and dental insurance, tuition reimbursements, professional society dues, and 401(k) plans. Since benefit packages vary widely and are valued differently, we asked the respondents not to include benefits in their salary figure.

We asked respondents how they rank the importance of stock options. This year 30% of you indicated receiving stock options, a sharp drop from 46% in 2008. Of those who receive stock options, only 15% rate them as Very Important or Important.