The following guide covers the details about the duties, qualifications, working hours, and other aspects of a technical writer’s job.
You will also find out what kind of experience you need and what requirements you should meet to benefit from the job and its prospects.
A technical writer writes and edits technical documents for companies, for internal and external use.
Such documents include protocols, manuals, white papers, project descriptions, and other papers the businesses use.
They have to make these documents as clear as possible keeping in mind the prospective readers.
Article Table of Contents
What Does A Technical Writer Do
Technical writers assist with communication within a company and between the company and stakeholders.
They need knowledge of the technical language and should be able to adapt the text to various audiences, including members of other departments, customers, managers, etc.
Generally, they work regular hours and don’t need any specific certification.
Technical writers can be contractors, so their salary can vary, and it can be hard to determine the exact amount.
The pay can depend on specific projects.
- Produce clear and organized documents for stakeholders.
- Develop protocols and standards with team members for the documentation of the project.
- Maintain notational, stylistic, and organizational standards to unify communications.
- Develop tutorials and documentation for users to improve customer experience.
- Edit the current content to meet the relevant standards and maximize clarity.
- Work with management to plan future content to maintain high-quality and consistency of the future documentation.
The primary skill for technical writers is advanced writing ability.
This goes beyond understanding language and grammar.
They should know how to use documentation to describe the complex concept in simple terms targeting a specific audience.
Not necessarily they should be native English speakers or understand key background concepts.
It’s essential that technical writers know exactly what their readers need and what their background is.
Technical writers should work well with others.
They may have to promote communication between various parties, so they should get along with other members of the team and be able to keep up with technical details.
How to Become a Technical Writer
Technical writers usually need formal writing training and experience.
They can build expertise through projects, which bring experience and understanding of the specific needs of the field.
Training and Qualifications
Colleges and universities usually don’t have a separate major, minor, or specialty in technical writing.
Typically, it comes as a stand-alone course.
However, technical writers can learn significant skills from writing classes, even creative writing ones.
In these courses, students learn different writing styles and writing in various genres and for different audiences.
In business classes, students can learn the core tasks and roles of business teams and the models of organizations that determine the lines of communication.
By working after college, technical writers can improve their craft.
Technical writers rarely need certifications or licensing, so the best way to get on the most productive growth path is to build a resume of successful projects and tasks.
To support their resume, technical writers can use a portfolio of their work samples and recommendations.
It may be hard to find an internship in technical writing since the field doesn’t have a strong internship culture.
Commonly, you can start working in the field after graduation.
However, you can obtain useful connections and impressive experience in a workgroup through a business internship.
New graduates have a limited number of opportunities, although, some companies seek young people.
To start the first job, you only need to obtain one offer, which will help you build a career.
However, it can be challenging to land the first job.
Technical writers generally work standard hours.
However, the schedule can vary from one employer to another.
Some employers work internationally and may require you to work unusual hours to meet the schedule of an international team.
Some may require work in the evenings or answering emails from home.
Other companies may set the schedule for the employees to finish the working day at 5 pm.
Generally, technical writers should work during the same hours as the teams or workgroups with which they cooperate.
Technical writers don’t have any hierarchy in the field.
Usually, they report to managers and team leaders, not senior technical writers per se.
That means that technical writers can advance by finding better jobs and projects, rather than changing positions and responsibilities.
If they want to change a career path, they may consider joining project management.
The experience in technical writing provides insight into the organization and management of projects and workgroups.
They also already know about the challenges coming with getting buy-in, promoting cooperation, and other challenges of project managers.
Technical writing experience involves close contact with other positions and roles that opens new opportunities.
A technical writer with an established reputation can ask to contribute to a project and see how that work will go.
The position of a technical writer rewards soft skills and interpersonal prowess.
The career of a technical writer is unique and combines detailed knowledge and advanced communication.
Technical writers play a key role in delivering information and channels of cooperation.
They can take contract work, get hired permanently, work on multiple interesting projects simultaneously, or even advance to project management.