How to Become a Technical Writer

Technical Writers are experienced in taking complicated information regarding technical and scientific concepts and scribing them into an approachable and comprehensible manner for readers.

These professionals are knowledgeable in more than one area of work and use their combination of skills in order to complete writing assignments.

Technical Writers are hired in various industries and sectors.

Some industries that commonly hire Technical Writing professionals include the following:

  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Computer systems
  • Computer designs
  • Management services
  • Technical consulting services
  • Software publishers

In order to become a Technical Writer , candidates should pursue proficiency in a technical aspect as well as work on their writing skills.

Below is more information regarding this career including education requirements, a typical job description, salary information and the career outlook.

Education Requirements to Become a Technical Writer

In order for candidates to become a Technical Writer, they must have the necessary skills to understand technical information as well has having strong writing skills.

Candidates must attend and complete a minimum of a Bachelor’s program.

Students who want to become a Technical Writer can study from a handful of disciplines in order to be competitive in the field.

Some helpful majors that will help candidates become a Technical Writer include studying in Communications, English or Journalism.

Because Technical Writers work with a range of scientific and technical information, they can also benefit from taking courses in the sciences.

Some colleges and universities also allow students to double major or earn double degrees.

Acquiring a double degree may take an additional year to complete, but employers are more likely to consider candidates with a wide range of knowledge and experience.

For example, an Engineering firm is more likely to hire a candidate with a degree in Engineering and English than someone who solely has a Communications degree.

Technical Writers also need some additional skills in order to be highly competitive.

Increasingly, employers look for Technical Writers who have experience using sound and video production, graphics and electronic publishing.

Candidates should also learn how to combine text and graphics, audio and animation.

Learning a variety of software is also important in order to accomplish any of the above skills.

Technical Writer Job Description

A Technical Writer’s goal is to take complicated technical information and scribe it in a way that would be understandable to a general public.

Some sectors these professionals can work in include engineering, science or health care.

Some Technical Writers may also hire out their services as freelance contractors and can work on a variety of technical topics.

Technical Writers can work alongside other professionals such as Engineers, scientists and software development while the creation and testing of a product.

This is to ensure the exchange of information between groups working on a project.

Some Technical Writers go beyond using their writing skills and technical knowledge to create comprehensible information for readers.

Technical Writers may also use their computer skills and knowledge of media formats to develop visuals of complex information.

Technical Writers may do this by creating graphic designs, multimedia software and page layout for the text they have written.

This is to present information in a variety of ways so that all readers understand the material.

Some Technical Writers may develop text and visuals in order to present this information online.

They will accomplish this by taking advantage of the internet’s interactive technologies.

In order to prepare information for the web, Technical Writers will combine text, sounds, images and graphics.

Technical Writer Salary and Career Path

The career outlook for Technical writers looks strong and is expected to grow 18% through the year 2018.

This expected growth is due in part to employers looking for people who are able to decode technical information because of the popularity of scientific and technical information.

Salary and wages for Technical Writing professionals depends on the sector and industry they work in.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national median wage for all Technical Writers in 2008 was approximately $61,600 annually.

The national salary range for these professionals is approximately $36,500 to $78,900 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a technical writer do?

The main responsibility of a technical writer is to transform technically difficult and complex texts into more clear pieces that can be read and understood by a target audience.

Technical writers are asked to create journal articles, technical and instructional manuals, maintenance and operating instructions, and other documentation for clients, designers, and manufacturers.

Such professionals can work in a wide range of spheres – engineering, medicine, technology, and so on.

The typical tasks of a technical writer usually include carrying out extensive research; analyzing the target audience; defining the tone and knowledge level of the documentation; designing the document, etc.

How much do technical writers make?

On average, a technical writer can make a little more than $69.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $42.000 and 116.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

Writers that work in Massachusetts, California, and Washington, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level technical writer can earn around $20.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $56.00 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a technical writer?

Some aspiring technical writers choose to earn a certificate or acquire an associate’s degree.

A short-term writing certificate program can cost you a few hundred (or thousands) of dollars.

However, the majority of technical writers have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

Later on, you can decide to earn professional certification (available through the Society for Technical Communication); it will cost you $255-$505 to take an exam.

What is the demand for technical writers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the technical writer job market is expected to grow by 10.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The industry is mainly concentrated in Texas, Virginia, and California.

How long does it take to become a technical writer?

There is plenty of writing certificate programs; the short-term ones can last only for a few weeks or months, while others might require a year or two of your time.

It will take you 2 years to acquire an associate’s degree and 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last years in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience.

Once you become a certified professional technical communicator, you would have to continue your education, in order to remain current.

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