Technical writing is in high demand. This guide breaks down how to become a technical writer.
Technical writing involves taking complex information and breaking it down into something an audience can understand. Tech writers must understand their audience and their material, and this makes it a highly specialized type of writing.
If you are thinking of becoming a tech writer, you will find that this is a lucrative writing career. Here is a closer look at how to become a technical writer and capitalize on the demand for tech-savvy communicators.
Learning How to Become a Technical Writer
Before you can become a technical writer, you must understand what one is. Once you have a solid understanding of what technical writing entails, you can decide if it's the right fit for you.
What Is a Technical Writer?
A technical writer is someone who writes user guides and other documents for technical products. This might include software and applications, or it might include some other type of technical product. These writers often write instruction manuals for these products as well.
What Does a Technical Writer Do?
Technical writers are called upon to handle complex information and break it down into simple terms that people can understand without a technical background. This means they must be able you understand technical documents as well as the research that goes into those documents.
Technical writers also must be able to communicate these technical concepts in a way that other people can understand. This means technical writers need good communication skills to do their jobs well. They need a good command of the English language on top of their technical writing skills.
Finally, technical writers may need to design graphics to go along with their written documents. This can help them create final documents that their audience can understand well.
Becoming a Technical Writer
Now that you understand what a technical writer is, you need to understand how to become one in a step-by-step manner. The steps typically are as follows:
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree in scientific writing or communications can help open the door to this field. Sometimes technical writers will start with a degree in their technical field, like computer science, rather than writing.
2. Get Certification as a Technical Writer
The Society for Technical Communication allows students to enter their qualifications and earn a certificate as a technical writer. This can make it easier to land technical writing jobs. If you want to specialize in medical writing that revolves around tech, consider certification and education through the American Medical Writers' Association.
3. Create a Portfolio
Potential employers will want to see your writing skill. Collect a portfolio of technical content writing samples in your field that show you can handle technical information well.
4. Build Your Technical Knowledge
Technology is constantly changing, and you need to know how to stay abreast of changes in the field. Keep learning and staying up-to-date with changes in the industry you want to write about, so you can show yourself as a versatile and accomplished tech writer.
5. Develop a Professional Network
You need a strong network of professionals in your field to find jobs. Join a professional association for tech writers or offer to volunteer some writing work for organizations to build good favor with people in the industry. Tap into social media connection to add to your network.
Finding Work as a Tech Writer
Once you have the right qualifications, you need to find work in tech writing. Here are some steps to take to do so:
- Tap Your Professional Network: Look at the professional network you have developed and ask if they know of any technical writing jobs you could fill.
- Become a Subject Matter Expert: Publish your portfolio on your own website, and start guest blogging to show your knowledge in your particular tech field.
- Frequent Tech Writer Job Boards: Dice, Indeed, and The Write Jobs all have tech writer job postings you can consider.
How Much Can Tech Writers Make?
Technical writer jobs tend to pay a bit more than general copywriting. The tech knowledge and ability to write for the end user means this is a highly specific type of writing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech writers make an average of $74,650 a year. This field is expected to add 4,300 people between 2019 and 2029, which is a 7% job growth. The need for technical documentation isn't likely to change in the coming years, and thus demand for tech writers will remain higher than average.
A Final Word on How to Become a Technical Writer
Becoming a technical writer involves more than just knowing how to write. You need a good command of the English language, but you also need to understand tech and software. You must be able to use that understanding and your English language skills to make technology easier for an average reader to understand.
If you can master this type of writing, you can find a number of job opportunities. The income potential is high, making this a field worth pursuing.
FAQs on How to Become a Technical Writer
Is it hard to become a technical writer?
Becoming a technical writer requires good writing skills and good tech knowledge. If you can attain both of these, you will find your skills in high demand. This job also requires a bachelor's degree, so the right education is an important part of the picture.
What is a typical day like for a technical writer?
Most tech writers work full-time. They may work directly for companies or they may work as a freelancer. They spend their days researching technical products or technology advances, then writing about them in such a way that average people can understand the writing.
What is the average salary of a technical writer?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average pay for tech writers of $74,650 a year or $35.89 an hour.