become a technical writer

What does a Technical Writer do?

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A technical writer is responsible for creating content for journal articles, technical and instructional manuals, training guides, and assessments. They organize content into a document that can be easily understood. They often interact with other technical writers or subject matter experts to ensure the accuracy of information. Technical writers gather and help develop technical information for various companies, manufactures, designers, or clients.

How to Become a Technical Writer

A bachelor’s degree is required to become a technical writer. Typical degrees are seen are in communication, journalism, or English. Coursework may include editing, web writing, journalism, nonfiction, and business writing classes. It would also be advantageous to have some understanding of the industry that you are writing for as well. With the increasing use of technology, you must also be able to operate computers, use publishing software, and have basic web development skills. Many companies are reducing paper use and are switching to online and virtual training. You must also be detailed oriented, problem-solve, and have the ability to simplify information.

Job Description of a Technical Writer

become a technical writer

A technical writer clarifies complex content or materials by using set standards, conciseness, appropriate terminology, and directing styles. They make any changes or edit materials developed by other writers. They provide diagrams, photographs, sketches, or charts to illustrate the information. They may assist with the layout of materials for publication.

The technical writer arranges distribution, typing, or duplication of materials. He or she would create, maintain, and update an online help documentation system when needed. They keep abreast of any changes in product technology, production methods, and other materials by reading journals and interviewing personnel. In addition they examine mockups, drawings, specifications, or product samples to integrate production sequences and operating procedures. This occupation can require you to train or supervise others and coordinate specific tasks. Job opportunities, especially those with technical skills, are expected to be good.

Technical Writer Career Video Transcript

When a nineteenth-century British author wrote “the pen is mightier than the sword,” he was referring to the tremendous power of words used skillfully by writers and authors. Writers use their language skills to produce content for an audience. They compose books, movie screenplays, magazine articles, and web content. Writers need creativity to come up with ideas, critical thinking skills to convey their concepts clearly, and persuasively, when needed, and adaptability to understand their audience’s perspectives.

The work of different types of writers varies significantly: creative writers like novelists, songwriters, poets, and playwrights are generally self-employed, and may labor for months or years before getting published, while technical writers and copywriters often work 9-to-5 jobs with a clear career path. Copywriters work on ad campaigns, and technical writers prepare instruction manuals and how-to guides. Using specialized skills, often learned on the job, they simplify complex ideas for the public, or write highly-technical material for a specific professional audience. Writers and authors often work in offices, but may work from any location with Internet access.

Most writers have a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English, and lots of writing practice. Aspiring writers who want to enter the field often gain experience from internships, blogging about their personal interests, writing for school publications, small businesses or non-profits, or local news organizations.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Technical Writers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 27-3042.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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