How to Become a Technical Writer

What To Do Now? Technical Writer Career Training

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As we enter an economy where digital media is on the rise, writers will continue to play an important role in communicating important thoughts and information. Technical writers will continue to be necessary to create easy to use and understandable manuals, catalogues, and instruction sets. They'll also write online copy for help centers or other technical areas as needed. In general, writers can improve their skills by writing consistently and getting feedback from editors. Online technical writer training courses can help fill in the gaps by focusing on the specific writing skills that are necessary to make progress in this field.

Career Skills of the Technical Writer

Writing covers a wide spectrum of topics. Some writers are novelists and playwrights who create works of art. Technical writers work with factual knowledge, creating manuals, catalogs and instructions. It's essential for these writers to be detail-oriented, accurate, and concise. Being able to use computers efficiently is also a desirable career skill of a technical writer.

Do you like using words? Are you able to present ideas and facts clearly and succinctly? Retraining as a technical writer might be a good match for you. Having a deep understanding of a particular topic can help boost your entry as a writer in this field. For example, if you are familiar with engineering you may be well suited to convert complex technical writing into more reader friendly manuals and guides. However, even if you do not know a subject area well, being able to learn the material and communicate the information clearly and to the right audience are key career skills.

Career Advice for the Technical Writer

Usually a technical writer has a four-year college education, often in a subject area like English, business, or communications. Online technical writer training courses are one way of retraining into the field. Additionally, internships are an excellent way to improve your skills through valuable hands-on experience. In general, there will continue to be a need for people to work as technical writers, with online technical writing continuing to grow as more applications and programs are created that need explanatory material. Go for some retraining, and improve your skills--technical writing might just be the career for you.

Career Outlook

  • Skills of a technical writer: Technical writers must know how to translate highly technical information into language that the average person can understand. This may include overseeing the creation of diagrams, charts, illustrations, and photographs
  • Typical job duties: preparing product information such as maintenance manuals and assembly instructions, writing operating instructions for Web site help pages, and creating documentation for computer programs
  • Technical writer education and training: Technical writers often need a formal education in English, writing, logic, and, increasingly, business- and science-related disciplines
  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2013, the technical writers earned a median annual salary of $70,290 with top 10% earning more than $105,760.
  • Projected employment growth through 2012-22: 15 percent, faster than the average for all occupations.
  • States with Highest Employment: California, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland.
  • Top Paying States: California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, District of Columbia.
  • Estimated number of jobs held by technical writers in 2012:: 49,500

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Technical Writers
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Technical Writers, May 2013 Wages