Do you have a way with words? Then here’s your opportunity to make it big! A technical writer, also called a communicator, is someone who researches, writes, edits and maintains technical documentation. It might range from composing online guides to system manuals to annual reports and science journals. With the increased dependency of the human race on electronics and technology, technical writing has become quite a lucrative career. Contrary to popular belief that this form of writing is a drab, technical writing can actually be made interesting! Scientists, engineers and journalists can all be made into technical writers. For example, take a science journal article about ‘stem cells’. There are several concepts that a layman would not understand. The job of a technical writer is to convert the jargon and make sense of it! If the above information has got you sufficiently curious (or interested!), then read about the eligibility criteria right here!
Becoming A Technical Writer
Basic education being compulsory, most companies that hire you would require a Bachelor’s in English, Journalism and/or a related field of expertise. An advanced degree will give you an edge over the others. For those who do not have sufficient academic qualifications, you can still become a technical communicator if you have relevant experience from your previous job. Showing adequate communication skills might be the key to getting into this profession. There are certain accredited universities that offer professional courses on technical writing. The duration could range from 3 months to a year. Some engineering programs are known to hold technical writing classes for aspirants. Computer literacy is a must and specific courses in software and tool training must be taken. Freelancing is an option after you have achieved relevant academics and experience. Studying content management is also advisable.
Associates Degree: This degree program is for a shorter duration and consists of modules such as vocabulary, grammar, formatting styles, editing, research methods, multimedia and even interviewing skills.
Certification Programs: They can be completed much quicker than any degree course as they cover basic tools and skills which are required for an entry-level technical writing position.
Tool skills such as word processing, MS Office, HATT, HTML/XHTML etc are important in drafting reports. Overall computer literacy must also be up to the mark.
Editing qualities and writing concisely is equally essential as data is usually analyzed before writing. Proofreading techniques must be mastered. Researching and maintaining a high quality language are other critical skill sets.
Time management is one of the most wanted skills in technical writing as the writers might have to multitask with roles such as organizing seminars, facilitating reviews and making respective changes.
Roles And Responsibilities
Communicating with the audience. A big responsibility of a technical writer is to analyze the people they are writing for. Information can be imparted in easily conveyable methods which could range from scientific or technical subjects like finance, construction and so on. To be able to present this data and technology correctly, the writer must understand gadgets, equipment and machinery well because sometimes, certain products or services might change one’s life.
Supporting evidence. Being able to communicate correctly comes with having the ability to illustrate too. A technical writer must be able to make the audience understand the content with the help of images, diagrams or videos. This might require designing and developing new tools.
Working in a team. Documenting processes and user manuals depend on the requirements of the organization but the entire system is usually handled by a team with a senior content writer at the helm. Hence, ability to work in a team in general and team management are essential requirements.
The demand for technical communicators is high and it provides an admirable salary if you have good grammar and conversational skills. Freelancers have a great scope to branch out and can write on any subject area of choice and expertise. Technical writers might also go on to become columnists for newspapers and even journalists sometimes.
A technical writer’s job involves extensive reading, editing, researching and writing of content in the form of articles, blogs etc. If you think you have it in you, then go ahead and become a technical writer!