Becoming a Technical Writer
Becoming a Technical Writer
Becoming a technical writer is a great way to earn a decent income off of writing, which can be performed at home in an office. Technical writers need to have both education and experience to do well in the field, as well as having a strong desire to excel.
A technical writer is essentially a professional writer who creates technical documentation. By technical documentation we mean user guides, manuals, white papers, specifications for designs and prints. These can even create online help documentation and video feeds. The difference between technical writing and other forms of writing is that technical writers have to have the ability to understand the technical components of the subject and transform such technical information into documentation that can be read by business, technical or consumer audiences. A good technical writer can produce content that is clear, concise and complete.
Technical writers typically produce three kinds of documents. End user assistance products are informational products, such as owner’s manuals, that are designed to help a user understand how to use the product or service. Technical documentation refers to documents aimed at a particular audience, such as a maintenance guide or engineering specifications. Technical writers that write on the subject of computer programs are often called program writers. Finally marketing communications are written to market products and advertisements to consumers. A good technical writer may not be an expert in the subject they are writing about, but they do have the expertise to interview and research the topic and write knowledgably about the subject; this is the technical writer’s most desired attribute. Technical writers also need to have an ability to write concisely and accurately.
Technical Writer's Educational Background
In order to become a technical writer you will have to have a pretty decent educational background. Most technical writers have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, English or in a specific science related field such as Engineering. Many have advanced degrees as well. A technical writer can have a specific range of knowledge, such as engineering, or they may be able to write on a number of different subjects. Some people manage to jump into the world of technical writing without a degree, especially if they have past technical writing experience or if they graduate from a technical writing certification program.
Technical writers can work for a business or operate as freelancers. Getting a technical writing job can be tough, as competition is often very high. This means that you will want to have a mixture of education, past experience and some kind of edge over the competition, such as networking associates. If you wish to go freelance you will have to spend a good deal of time building up your reputation as a qualified technical writer. This is usually accomplished by created a portfolio and building a good list of clients.
Becoming a technical writer is not usually something you can do overnight. It requires a good set of listening, researching and writing skills as well as the desire to constantly learn and adapt. It is however a great way to earn a decent income if you enjoy writing.
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