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Is technical writing a good career for engineers?
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 :)