This post provides detailed information on the technical writer career, including how to become a technical writer, the various career opportunities you can explore, and the benefits of being one.
How to Become a Technical Writer
The following are steps you can take to become a technical writer if you are interested in the career:
- Complete Bachelor’s Degree Program
Technical writers with Associate degree can enter the career, but a Bachelor’s degree in a field such as Technical Communications, Scientific Writing, or Journalism can improve your job prospects.
Consider gaining knowledge in specialized fields, such as engineering, computer, and data science, and medicine through additional training and coursework.
2. Obtain Certification as a Technical Writer.
Although certification is not required to become a technical writer, you can improve your credentials by obtaining a technical writer credential from the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
This organization offers a three-level certification program, including foundation, practitioner, and expert certification program.
Further to that, the American Medical Writers’ Association (AMWA) offers medical writers continuing education and training programs.
If you want to perform work in scientific or medical communication, you should consider becoming AMWA certified.
3. Create a Sample Portfolio
Create a sample portfolio that you can present to prospective clients as you improve your technical writing skills, by offering to take on small projects for friends and acquaintances.
Make each sample just like a professional technical project, then save it in your work portfolio.
When applying for jobs, you can use this resource to show employers evidence of your work and to demonstrate your technical and written communication skills.
More Tips on How to Become a Technical Writer
4. Expand your Professional Network
Consider joining a technical writing professional association and attending networking events where professionals from the IT, scientific, and medical fields may congregate.
Find opportunities to practice your skills and improve your reputation as a qualified technical writer as you expand your network.
Find open-source projects to contribute to using your network connections and association contacts.
Similarly, volunteer or make a trade-off with a professional acquaintance that requires the design and printing of a software manual.
5. Expand your Industry Knowledge
Keep up with industry trends and new developments to supplement your knowledge of the field.
It is critical to stay current on new technology and software, medical advances, and the most recent scientific research when planning and writing your project materials.
If you decide to join a professional association, make use of the resources the network provides to stay up to date on the latest news in whatever field you specialize in.
Technical Writer Career Opportunities
Technical writers can explore the following careers:
- Senior Technical Writer
A senior technical writer is a position that reports to the technical writing manager.
The senior technical writer works on complex documentation, such as detailed technical documents, books, and manuals.
He/she is responsible for the planning, research, and writing of these documents and for reviewing documentation for accuracy.
2. Technical Writing Manager
A technical writing manager supervises all or part of a documentation department within an organization.
This person should be able to write grammatically correct and easily understandable documents.
3. Technical Editor
A technical editor is responsible for the documentation produced by a technical writer.
He/she edits technical documents written by other writers and may correct errors, suggest needed changes and improve style.
4. Technical Project Manager
A technical project manager works in the software development environment, where he/she manages milestone-based projects that include document creation.
The person may have responsibility for different phases of the documentation process and should be able to organize team activities as well as handle customer relations.
5. Documentation Specialist
Documentation specialists create documentation such as user guides and installation guides.
A documentation specialist’s daily tasks include creating content, writing the text, and creating diagrams.
The person may have a technical background, including in graphic design, web development, and computer science with the ability to learn more technical skills.
More Technical Writer Career Opportunities
6. Technical Editing Specialist
A technical editing specialist is commonly referred to as a technical writer.
The person may have a choice of working in the software or hardware development environment or for an educational or consumer market company.
The person edits and polishes documentation produced by technical writers, enhancing its quality.
7. Technical Training Specialist
A technical training specialist trains new technical writers. The person provides instruction about authoring style and writing techniques, using examples from published technical documentation.
The person may also conduct workshops for other people learning to be technical writers.
8. Technical Communication Manager
A technical communication manager is responsible for directing the work of a staff of technical communicators and support staff.
Technical communicators create documentation, such as operating manuals and user guides.
9. Technical Communication Specialist
A technical communication specialist is someone trained in a variety of technical communication skills.
The person may work with computer-based training (CBT) or web-based training (WBT).
He or she may work for a government agency, an academic institution, or a corporation.
Challenges faced by Technical Writer on the Job
There are a number of challenges faced by technical writers on the job, these include:
- Target Audience Specificity
This is a challenge in the technical communication field, where a technical writer is faced with creating content that is precise enough for a specific audience, including updates, revisions, and updates for other companies or industries.
2. Work Volume in Short Time
Another challenge may include editing and creating numerous content pieces at once.
The writer may be tasked with working on numerous pieces of documentation for multiple products and companies.
They may have to work a large number of hours to meet deadlines.
3. Resourcefulness in Gathering Information
Another challenge is the ability to gather information by one-self.
The technical writer may need to become familiar with a specific software program or hardware product and conduct outside research to gather the needed information for writing content.
Major Benefits of a Technical Writer Career
The benefits of a technical writer career include:
- The ability to resolve technical issues
Technical writers are expected to resolve technical issues by explaining how a product works, offering guidelines for use of the product, and assisting the public in accessing information about the product.
The writer may resolve technical issues by creating a help guide for using a product and may also resolve technical issues by answering questions about a product through email or phone calls.
2. Work Opportunities Available Across Industries
Work opportunities are available in many different industries. For example, technical writers work for scientific or medical organizations that need to create and edit manuals for software programs or hardware devices.
Some writers are employed by government agencies to educate its employees about the latest developments in computers and technology.
Also, technical writers are hired by automobile manufacturers and software development companies.
3. Rise in Salary with Experience
The technical communication field offers various opportunities within an organization, but you can also raise your salary as you enter the field with experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, technical writers are entitled to a median salary of $61,450 per year.
The technical writing job also offers a faster than average growth rate compared to other fields due to the increasing need for specialists.
4. The Opportunity to Enter Multiple Related fields
Working as a technical writer opens up opportunities for work in many different professions and career paths.
Several technical writers work with software programming, computer programming, and information technology.
They also write medical research papers or articles for medical journals.
More Benefits of Being a Technical Writer
5. Flexible Work Schedule
As a technical writer, the ability to adjust your schedule to meet scheduling demands is important.
For example, you may be required to meet deadlines by creating content during the evenings and weekends, or you may be able to work on specific projects at your own pace.
Technical writers are able to balance work with home obligations, such as family, parenting, and other personal responsibilities.
6. Career Advancement for Technical Writers
The technical writing field offers many career opportunities with the ability to progress in rank and salary, as well as the opportunity to raise your profile.
As you advance in rank, you can acquire the skills and knowledge required to call on employers looking for assistance and become a lead technical writer or a project manager.
You may also continue researching new techniques or writing publications about your current focus area, improving your reputation as a qualified technical writer.
7. Work in a Variety of Settings
As a technical writer, you may work in many different settings.
A medical writer, for example, may work in a corporate setting where they are required to write articles for medical journals or other publications.
Some writers may work as independent contractor for government agencies and corporations and may choose to set their own hours.
The field of technical communication provides great opportunities for individuals who enjoy working with technology and documentation.
There is a wide range of work opportunities available to technical writers that can offer scheduling flexibility, career advancement, a great salary, and the ability to achieve work-life balance.
This post has helped boost your knowledge about the technical writer career.