Technical Writer

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What Is a Technical Writer? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.

 Technical writers create content like how-to guides and instruction manuals that accompany products, with the goal of providing good user experiences. Here’s what to know about a technical writer’s salary, needed skills and how to become one.


What Is a Technical Writer?

A technical writer is someone who has writing and communication prowess as well as product expertise. They study target audiences to determine how best to communicate the technical aspects of a product and its features. Their work is not exclusively in written format. They may also need to help produce videos, illustrations and other visual communication.


What Do Technical Writers Do?

Technical writers craft concise communications that help both technical and non-technical users understand how to interact with products. They collaborate closely with people involved in product development and gather feedback from users to inform their process and figure out how to simplify complex concepts for written materials.

Technical Writer Responsibilities

  • Writing and editing technical documentation.
  • Producing videos, illustrations and other visual communications.
  • Conforming to style guides.
  • Conducting research and studying product samples. 
  • Collaborating with other teams and departments as they produce products and features that need documentation.
  • Learning about complex concepts and technical product aspects.
  • Collecting feedback from users.

Technical Writer Role Within a Company

Technical writers are available as needed to departments throughout an organization. They often collaborate closely with engineers, product teams and others who are directly involved in developing the products and features they’ll be drafting communications for. A technical writer may be responsible for users outside of the company, as well as putting together documentation for internal purposes.

Importance of a Technical Writer

Technical writers essentially serve as translators who make sense of high-level information and convert those details into a format that’s understandable to intended users.

Video: Technical Writer HQ


What Skills Are Needed to Be a Technical Writer?

Qualifications to Be a Technical Writer

  • Ability to apply critical thinking skills to writing and communication.
  • Understanding of types of technical documentation and how to choose the right one.
  • Skilled researcher and editor.
  • Capable of quickly learning complex topics and communicating them to others.
  • At least one to two years of relevant experience.
  • Familiarity with common writing platforms and publishing software.
  • Efficient at collaborating across teams and departments.

Technical Writer Prerequisites

  • A bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a relevant field or from a technical writing or communication program.
  • At least one to two years of relevant experience.
  • Professional certification.

Technical Writer Hard Skills

  • Some jobs may require knowledge of coding languages like HTML, CSS, Python and Javascript.
  • Product research and audience analysis.
  • Proofreading skills and knowledge of relevant style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Proficient at using writing and publishing tools.

Technical Writer Soft Skills

  • Strong communication and collaboration skills.
  • Creativity and curiosity.
  • Managing time to meet project deadlines.
  • Organized and detail oriented.

Tools and Programs Technical Writers Use

  • Writing software and platforms like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
  • Publishing software like Adobe RoboHelp and MadCap Flare.
  • Tools like Jira and Confluence for workflow and project management.
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How to Become a Technical Writer

Technical Writer Education and Experience

Common majors for technical writers include English, journalism, communications, information technology and computer science. Some schools even offer technical writing specific programs. Depending on what field they work in, some technical writers enter the industry with an associate’s degree or no degree at all. These individuals may have lots of relevant experience, a strong writing portfolio and professional courses and certifications under their belt to prove their proficiencies.

Technical Writer Certificates and Courses

Technical Writer Career Path

Recent graduates may be able to find an entry-level technical writing role such as an internship or junior technical writer position, but newcomers should expect to work at least one to two years before breaking into technical writing. Some also choose to become a UX researcher or junior UX designer before moving into technical writing. This route allows them to learn about UX research, design techniques and other areas that can give them a necessary understanding of interaction design and how users relate to products. As they advance in their career, technical writers can add senior to their job title or step into the role of managing a team of technical writers at a larger company.


Technical Writer Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2021, there were 55,400 technical writers employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is expected to grow by 6 percent for a total of 58,400 technical writers by 2031, with a projected 5,400 openings each year.

The full compensation package for a technical writer depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average technical salary.


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