Technical Writer Job Description, Key Duties and Responsibilities

Technical Writer Job Description
Technical writers design, format, and write technical materials like manuals, white papers, tutorials, and books.

This post provides detailed information on the technical writer job description and career, to help you understand the key duties, tasks, and responsibilities they commonly perform.

It also shows how to become a technical writer, the major requirements you will be expected to meet to be hired, and the various careers you can get into with a technical writer background.

It also provides information on the salary you can earn as a technical writer and the benefits of the job.

Please, read on:

What Does a Technical Writer Do?

A technical writer is responsible for designing, formatting, and writing technical material like manuals, white papers, tutorials and books.

They are tasked with conducting research to make sure they are up to date with the most recent developments in the industry.

They review books, articles, and journals to ensure that their contents address issues clearly and accurately.

The technical writer job description also involves creating sample templates for all kinds of documents, including functional specifications, installation manuals, and repair instructions.

Authors can use these materials as a foundation for creating their own documents.

Technical writers have to be up on the latest technology in their fields.

They also have to keep abreast of new software and hardware products.

Their duties also involve learning how software works and how it can be improved or trimmed down for certain types of products or situations.

It is the duty of the technical writer to make sure that applications, manuals, and other technical documents are easy to read and understood.

Technical writers must be able to explain technical concepts clearly, concisely, and accurately so that readers can understand them easily (if applicable).

Knowing how to explain technical issues in a way that people without a technical background can understand is an important task of a technical writer.

When writing engineering manuals, technical writers must be able to make technical terms understandable to people who have no prior knowledge of the field.

More Technical Writer Duties

Another duty of the technical writers is ensuring that the language and style used in the documentation are consistent with the rest of the document and are usually written as a step by step guide for manual readers.

Technical writers ensure that the technical information is organized in a way that is easy for readers to follow.

They format the manuals, making sure that it is easy to scan, read and understand by readers.

They ensure that the material is presented properly and clearly so that it can be understood easily.

Technical writers make sure the manuals are compatible with the hardware and software components to ensure that it is easy for users to understand how to operate and use a certain piece of software or hardware product.

They also take responsibility for researching on or designing new technical products, like new methods or processes in a medical device industry.

This will help future technical writers to use the document as reference material as it contains information about the most recent developments in their field.

They may draft industry standards, such as guidelines for a particular device or product, so people in their own industry will understand what types of things are required and what guidelines to follow.

Technical Writer Job Description Sample/Example/Template

The technical writer job description consists of the following duties, tasks, and responsibilities:

  • Provide technical support, including assistance to management and clients with the information on technical products and services
  • Develop, write, and edit technical documentation for the organization, which include manuals, procedures, specifications, and design documents
  • Create professional technical writing style
  • Design technical diagrams and charts using company’s software or drawing tools, such as Microsoft Visio or Adobe Illustrator
  • Write text in a clear language or style to meet the purpose of document or report at the lowest cost per word
  • Write reports in accordance with industry standards and client specifications
  • Follow the style and format for technical writing
  • Work with other employee or department to ensure that the team meets their target
  • Cooperate with supervisor, subordinates, and department heads, to ensure that the team meets its target
  • Ensure that documentation is compliant with relevant laws and regulations
  • Provide technical support to clients by answering questions about product or service
  • Write technical documentation to include manuals, procedures, specifications, and design documents
  • Write content for websites that are technology-related
  • Review existing technical writing and make suggestions for improvement
  • Update obsolete documents if necessary
  • Involve in software development process by creating designs or by designing tools that assist in creating new documents or software applications.

Technical Writer Job Description for Resume

If you are writing a new resume or CV as someone who has worked before or presently working as a technical writer, you can apply the above job description sample in making the resume.

You can show the duties and responsibilities you performed as a technical writer in your resume’s Professional Experience by using the example provided in the technical writer job description above.

This will show that you have been successful performing the role of a technical writer, which can boost the effectiveness of your resume and influence the recruiter/employer to invite you to an interview, especially if the new job that you are seeking requires some technical writer work experience.

Technical Writer Job Requirements: Skills, Abilities, and Knowledge for Career Success

Here are major requirements most employers/recruiters may want you to meet to be hired for the technical writer role:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in English or Technical Writing, or in a related field
  • Ability to understand and interpret complex instructions as relate to product, services or company’s organizational structure
  • Requires good language skills and excellent communication skills
  • Thorough knowledge in a major platform such as Windows, Linux, and Unix operating system, especially Microsoft Office tools such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
  • Good customer service skills and interpersonal skills for communicating with clients and management about projects
  • Ability to develop knowledge of the latest industry trends, and mechanism of different areas
  • Good computer skills are required such as: Good research abilities, writing skills and a good review of organization or client’s document/advertisement/brochure
  • Ability to write and analyze troubleshooting procedures on different types of systems
  • Ability to communicate effectively with others in the organization, including clients, marketing department and sales department.

Technical Writer Salary

According to salary.com, the base compensation for technical writers ranges from $53,042 to $66,144 based on education, location, and other factors, with average base income of $59,564.

The highest paying cities for technical writers in the United States include San Jose, CA, $68,658; New York, NY, $68,043; Washington, DC, $67,302; Denver, CO, $62,744; and Dallas, TX, $61,218 per year.

There are currently over 25,208 technical writers working in the United States. 

Women make up 50.3% of all technical writers, while men make up 49.7%. 

An employed technical writer is 48 years old on average.

White (78.4%) is the most common ethnicity among technical writers, followed by Asian (7.5%), Hispanic or Latino (5.7%), and Black or African American (5.4%).

Technical writer career
The technical writer career can lead to various exciting and rewarding job positions, such as senior technical writer, technical writing manager, and technical editor.

Technical Writer Career Opportunities

Technical writers can explore the following careers:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.

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:

  1. 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.

Major Benefits of a Technical Writer Career

The benefits of a technical writer career include:

  1. 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.

Conclusion

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 is helpful to individuals interested in becoming a technical writer.

They can learn all they need to know about the duties and responsibilities of the job, and decide if technical writing is the career they want to pursue.

It is also useful to recruiters/employers in writing a job description for the technical writer role in their organizations, for use in hiring for the position.

They can apply the technical writer job description sample provided above in making one for their organizations.