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Is technical writing a good career for engineers?

Updated on September 24, 2012


My story

This is the very same question that ran through my mind all day and night before i ushered in the field of technical writing two years back putting an end to may career in software development.

I am a Software engineer by profession and was involved in writing code for various applications ever since i got placed in an MNC after finishing my engineering. I enjoyed my tenure of three years in the application software field as a developer and gave my best there but then this was not something which i always wanted to do. I was looking for something creative in life. After all change is the spice of life. Undoubtedly software development gave me an exposure to get in touch with various upcoming technologies and enhanced my knowledge bank but at the cost of very hectic days and busy weekends.

Writing is something which i always enjoyed, it is their in my bones. Then later i came to know about the budding field of techincal writing and thought to dabble in it. I applied for this job, and could easily clear the written test and interviews. Now the only challenge was to learn the softwares and tools that are being used in writing and converting the written text into a specific format which colud be embedded in the softwares.

Having a knack of softwares, this wasn't a big deal for me and in no time i could get a grip on all the basic and neessary softwares that i required to get going... i soon made my entry in this field and from that day on, there is no looking back... i enjoy this profession a lot. You always get to do new things and apply your creative mind in many directions, be it in making an architecture diagram or presenting hell of an information in an optimized user friendly way.

Can you be a technical writer?

Well the answer is very simple... yes!!! For becoming a techincal writer you need not be an excellent writer who uses heavy and fancy words to embellish the text. All you need is average writing skills with good command over grammar. Being an engineer or a person with a technical background, you can be a better technical write than those who have done masters in English language or those who are having excellent communication/writing skills. Having a techincal hand help you to understand the techincal stuff very easily and in very less time. You can play around with the application and put them in words more easily and efficiently. A broad understanding of the application for which a manual is to be written + user friendly (grammatical error free) language + creative instinct (use of architectural diagrams , flowcharts etc) can help you become a good technical writer.

Tools you should know

The basic tools with which you must be acquainted for starting your career as a technical writer are:

  • Any word processing software like Microsoft Word , Framemaker
  • An image capturing and editing tool like Snagit , TNT
  • A tool for converting text documents into help file like RoboHelp or DocToHelp

If you know or have the caliber to learn these basic tools then you are making no mistake in selecting Technical Writing as your career. I bet you will enjoy every bit of it. Go ahead...

Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me :)


Comments

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    • profile image

      seema 19 months ago

      Hello kusha,

      I have been considering technical writing as a career option for sometime now but was not sure about my decision. But after reading your post I think I am clear about my decision. Thank you .

      Since i have made my decision my next course of action would be to enrol in a technical writing course. So can you suggest me a good training institute for technical writing .

    • profile image

      nitin abhishek 24 months ago

      i have just compeleted my engineering from mechanical branch .what are my work area in tech. writing?is it good field for me ?

    • profile image

      Smita Solanki 2 years ago

      Hi Kusha,

      I have a 5 years exp in Software industry. Can you tell me if a technical editor would be considered as a stream of sofware engineering as well?

      Thanks,

      Smita

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 2 years ago from Udaipur

      Hi Nilofar

      First of all, sorry for turning up late.

      Well, it will be a good move to take up a course before actually applying for a technical writing job. You will get a broad overview of the various aspects of technical writing. These days many on-line courses are available for the same.

      Beside this you can yourself search the related content/videos on the internet and give it a go.

      Technical writing is all about presenting complex technical information into easy to understands chunks of information. So please be sure in your mind that you are actually interested in doing such thing.

    • profile image

      Nilofar 2 years ago

      Hi Kusha,

      I took a break from my job as a developer to take care of my baby. I have around 5 years of experience as a developer. I would like to re-start my carrier as a technical writer but no idea how to make the move. Should I take up any course on technical writing? Please suggest.

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 3 years ago from Udaipur

      Hi Snehal,

      Yups, a Content writer can surely become a technical writer provided he/she has got a technical background(Not necessarily but preferable).

      On the other hand, for a Technical writer to become a content writer is not very difficult because all you need is the flare for writing no matter whether it is technical or non technical.

      If you are a technical person, technical writing is more suitable since your technical hand will become your USP.

    • profile image

      Snehal :-) 3 years ago

      Hi Kusha... thanx for this awesome article...by reading your article.. I got my solution and feeling happy now...I am into software development for 9 months...and not feeling any interest in it, given the hectic schedule and frustration in development field...I, too have a liking towards writing. However, my question is..can a content writer become a technical writer or vice verse?

    • profile image

      Allen Ryan 3 years ago

      As I mentioned i am working as a technical writer from last 5 years + have 1.5 years of software development experience before moving to technical writing. I am willing to move to software development. not sure how to pursue?

      Allen

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 3 years ago from Udaipur

      Hi KM ,

      Technical writing is a budding field and the demand of writers is increasing in the market day by day. The packages offered to technical writers are no less than people from the other fields. Moreover, with good writing skills you don't have to be dependent on a particular job. You can do freelancing sitting at your home. The opportunities in this field are myriads

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 3 years ago from Udaipur

      Hi Suvidha,

      Technical writing is a budding field and the demand of writers is increasing in the market day by day. The packages offered to technical writers are no less than people from the other fields. Moreover, with good writing skills you don't have to be dependent on a particular job. You can do freelancing sitting at your home. The opportunities in this field are myriads

    • profile image

      Allen Ryan 3 years ago

      I am a technical writer from last 5 years, now I want to switch to software development. Can anybody help me, how i should proceed further.

      Regards

    • profile image

      KM 4 years ago

      Thanks a lot for the post Kusha. I'm an electrical engineer, but I'm looking to change to technical writing. How is the career growth in the field? What do you expect to be in 10 years time? Also, I'm wondering how the pay rises a few years down the line. I'd be grateful for your insights.

    • ganeshk225 profile image

      ganeshk225 4 years ago

      Sure you can. That shouldn't be an issue.

    • profile image

      Suvidha 4 years ago

      Hi.I appreciate the idea of publishing such an article which would encourage budding writers to come up with this.I am a student studying electrical engineering.Unlike the software developers,will I be able to find an opportunity in our market?

    • ganeshk225 profile image

      ganeshk225 4 years ago

      Hi Kusha, that clears a lot of doubts :)

      Thanks a ton for the advice!!

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 4 years ago from Udaipur

      Hi dear,

      Becoming a content writer is no big deal for a software engineer having nice communication and writing skills. As a beginner all you have to do is to learn the basic tools.

      MS Word is the most important one. Then any one image capturing tool and help authoring tool will usher you to the world of technical writing. With time and experience you can learn advance tools and that will broaden your career scope.

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 4 years ago from Udaipur

      Hello dear,

      If you are really willing to make a move then i would just say Go Ahead... :)

      This career is really on its boom these days. No doubt, a very few people are involved in this but the demand is increasing day by day.

      For avid readers and writers this is really very apt and having a software background is the icing on the cake. Usually writers are not good at software stuffs so they really struggle a lot with the help authoring tools, but i don't think it would be difficult for you to learn them.

      And most importantly, about job satisfaction i would say that i am really enjoying my work. You get a chance to show your creativity and innovations in delivering your thoughts to user and above all, you always get time for other imp stuffs in your life.

      I spend a pretty good time in sports and cultural activities. Since writing is my interest, i always finish my work well on time and never have to struggle with the dead lines as i used to do in software development sphere. Last but not the least my work life is tension free... ;)

    • ganeshk225 profile image

      ganeshk225 4 years ago

      Thanks for the write-up giving an excellent overview. I've been thinking of becoming a technical writer, however struggling to make this decision. I'm working as a software test engineer for 4+ years now. I'm considering to make a move to technical writing for the love of English and writing.

      I really feel this is the thing for me to do as I really enjoy reading and writing... so I think this will be a very satisfying career considering my interests. It would be great if you can offer some advice and guidance :)

      - I would like to know the future scope of this career.

      - After moving from software development to writing, how would you rate the job satisfaction?

      - What about job security? I do understand that there may be lesser openings for this role :) but since I enjoy writing, I want to move to tech writing.

      Regards,

      Ganesh

    • profile image

      Ekta C 4 years ago

      I am also battling with the same question. I have about two and a half years of experience as a software engineer. I want to become a technical content writer. Can you give me any suggestions as to how I should go about it?

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 4 years ago from Udaipur

      Hi Dorian, thanks for your comments. This career is indeed booming these days. Specially for women, this is a blessing as they can work remotely for 4-5 hours a day also giving equal time to the family rather than attending the long tiring working days of the sedentary jobs.

    • Dorian Bodnariuc profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Kanata, Ontario, Canada

      I contemplated the idea of starting a career as a technical writer, but never pursued. Thanks for the nice introduction to it.

      What I love about it is that you can work remotely for long periods of time, as long as the company agrees to it.

    • Kusha Soni profile image
      Author

      Kusha Soni 4 years ago from Udaipur

      Thanks a ton Jlbowden for the warm welcome. I think i have made a right decision by joining hubpages where i will get to come in touch with experienced and nice writers. Your comment is a motivation for me to go ahead with my posts.... thanks!!

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello Kusha:

      A very interesting article on the topic of technical writing, which I also voted up! As you mentioned in your article if you are longing to change careers, than technical writing may be just the career change to not only spice up your life, but to also enhance the minds creative ability. Besides if you love writing like most of us here do on Hubpages, than you are making a wise decision and in the right place at the right time.

      Which by the way brings me to my next point in extending you a warm greeting and welcoming you to our online writing community. You will soon find that the Hubpages platform is a great place to share all of your interests and articles, where others within this talented community of freelancers aspire to pursue similar interests. In addition it is a great place to meet new friends and develop your online writing portfolio. I look forward to reading more of your articles and if you ever have any questions pertaining to navigating around the community. Please by all means, email anyone of us here and we will be more than glad to answer any of your questions. Again welcome aboard-Happy Hubbing!...and will be seeing you around the community.

      Jlbowden