New Year, New Career: Technical Writer
Are you a strong writer who knows how to explain complex topics? Do you have an eye for detail and an insatiable curiosity? Are you able to communicate with engineers, programmers and designers as easily as you relate to a general audience?
If you are an excellent writer who loves to learn and help others, you may be ready to launch an outstanding career as a technical writer.
What Do Technical Writers Do?
Technical writers help keep our technology-driven economy in motion. By providing clear explanations and precise detail about often-complicated subjects, they help us understand and use the vast array of products and services around us.
Great technical writing connects engineering and design to create a user’s experience. It makes engineering teams more efficient, gives designers clarity and helps marketing teams promote products and services.
According to the Society for Technical Communication, technical communication is any form of messaging that:
- Provides information about complex or specialized topics
- Facilitates or assists communication that uses technology such as web pages, graphics or computer files
- Provides instruction about anything, whether the topic is technical or not
More specifically, technical writers may prepare:
- Instruction manuals
- How-to guides
- Journal articles or white papers
- Documents to explain complex and technical information
Technical writers in the field also report that their assignments include:
- Blog posts that resolve product complaints or issues
- Customer interviews for podcasts or focus groups
- eLearning course materials
- Conducting research and reporting on new products
- User guides for apps, products or processes
Do Tech Writers Need a College Degree?
While some technical writer positions require a degree, many writers thrive without one if they:
- Communicate clearly, especially with technology professionals
- Explain concepts at levels that match their audience
- Understand technology
- Organize information concisely
- Meet rigorous deadlines
In today’s freelance-driven marketplace, many technical writers enjoy great success if they specialize in a particular niche and maintain a current portfolio of excellent work samples.
How Much Money Do Technical Writers Make?
Great technical writers are paid very well. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the average technical writer earns about $35 per hour, or around $71,850 per year.
Because technical writing is a broad category covering millions of products and services, there can be a wide variation in pay rates. Indeed.com mentions that writers with more technical and specialized expertise can easily earn $60 or more per hour.
What Does Technical Writer Training Involve?
The best training for technical writing involves essentially two things: instruction in technical writing and opportunities to write and publish technical materials.
To communicate as a technical writer, you will need:
- Advanced grammar skills
- Research methods and practices
- A clear and informative writing style
- Ability to create a variety of technical documents, including reports, memos, white papers, instruction manuals, analyses, executive summaries and scripts for audio or video
- Ability to explain difficult topics to a diverse audience
So, to write and publish technical materials, you will need:
- To discover and hone a specialty, niche or topic of interest
- A platform or standard format
- An audience
Start Training for a Technical Writer Career
As you can probably tell, opportunities to write are almost unlimited. However, to be a successful technical writer, you need to balance training with practice.
In fact, one great option is to pursue formal training that also provides experience as a technical writer. Our Technical Writing course does exactly that. It provides instruction in professional writing techniques while helping you build a portfolio of work to help you launch a freelance or corporate technical writing career.
Whether you want to start the new year with a new career or add technical writing skills to your current profile, an online course will help you become a technical writer.
Article by ed2go, our partner in online courses.
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