How to Become a Technical Writer
Technical writers put technical information into easily understandable language for a variety of users, such as technical support staff and consumers. Technical writers may develop:
- Operating instructions
- How-to manuals
- Assembly instructions
- User guides for computer programs
Technical writers often work with engineers, scientists, computer specialists, and software developers to simplify complex technical information during development and testing of products. They also may work with customer service managers to improve the quality and comprehension of product support and customer assistance. Technical writers also oversee the preparation of illustrations, photographs, and charts to convey information in such a way that concepts can be understood easily by users of the information.
Technical Writer Requirements
Employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, often preferring those with a major in communications, journalism, or English. Some technical writing jobs may require both experience and either a degree or knowledge in a specialized field like engineering or medicine. Experience in Web design and computer graphics also is growing in importance.
If your career goal is to become a technical writer, you must have excellent writing and communication skills and be able to express complex ideas clearly and logically. Technical writers must be detail oriented, curious, persistent in solving problems, and self-motivated.
Job Opportunities for Technical Writers
Technical writers work in almost every industry, but they are commonly concentrated in industries related to computer systems and software, publishing, science, engineering and other areas in which highly specialized material needs to be explained to a diverse audience.
Advances in computer and communications technologies make it possible for technical writers to work from almost anywhere. Laptops and WiFi permit technical writers to work from home, an office, or on the road, allowing them greater flexibility in where and how they complete assignments.
Many technical writers work with people located around the world and with specialists in highly technical fields. Although most technical writers are employed directly by the companies that use their services, many freelance writers are paid on a project or contract basis.
Employment of technical writers is expected to grow faster than the average from 2008 to 2018 because of the continuing expansion of scientific and technical information and the growing presence of customer service and Web-based product support networks.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 20010-2011 Edition