Technical writers translate complicated subjects into language that everyone can understand. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, and in particular on the Internet, it is ever more essential to have writers who can explain technical subjects to a general audience. People who are interested in technology and electronics and who can write clearly will find technical writing to be a great career choice. There are some excellent distance learning courses available to learn technical writing.
Technical writers are most often employed by firms that create and manufacture sophisticated products. For instance, software and mobile phone manufacturers have full departments of technical writers to help them communicate with customers. Much of a technical writer’s time is spent learning about new products. A technical writer often works in collaboration with a team of engineers or scientists. As new products are developed, the writer will learn about them in detail so that he or she can describe them to the public. A technical writer must be able to understand technology at a high level, but must be able to convey that information in a way that the casual reader can comprehend.
When they are not learning about their subjects, technical writers are composing manuals, workbooks, and other presentations for end-users. There can be a great deal of pressure to complete these documents quickly so that a company can put a product on the market. For this reason, many technical writers report that their jobs are occasionally stressful. Fortunately, many technical documents are now hosted online and can therefore be corrected after a product has reached the consumer.
Technical writers must have a bachelor’s degree at the very least. It is typical for aspiring professionals in this field to major in English, journalism, or communications, although some applicants in highly specialized fields would do well to also take a degree in their area of intended interest. Many technical writers earn graduate degrees or acquire specialized certifications in computer disciplines. Some community colleges offer special courses specifically about technical writing, but these are more often used by established professionals as continuing education opportunities.
The most important factor in the development of a technical writer is the maturation of communication skills. Technical writers often work on their high school or college newspapers. Also, technical writers tend to have some background in the sciences, or at least a strong interest in some field of technical expertise. It is common for technical writers to have hobbies related to science or technology.
To succeed in this field, a person needs more than excellent writing skills and a bit of technical knowledge. A technical writer also needs to be familiar with the latest programs in graphics and electronic publishing. Technical writers work in a number of different formats, and need to be fluent in producing content for all sorts of audiences. In addition, technical writers need to communicate effectively with colleagues. The work of a technical writer involves translating extremely complicated information for the edification of untrained men and women. This usually requires close consultation with experts, as well as sensitivity to the level of understanding possessed by the average consumer. An effective technical writer can navigate between these two fields without sacrificing clarity.
Many successful technical writers did not begin in this field. Instead, they started as research assistants or technical specialists and discovered a talent for popularizing complicated ideas. Some companies allow employees to write part time while focusing the rest of their attention on research and development. Larger companies, however, are more likely to employ specialized technical writers who work in a narrow area of production.
The average annual salary for a technical writer is about $60,000, although some make more than $100,000 a year. Technical writers are particularly well paid in software and computer systems design. Management and scientific consulting services are also lucrative fields for technical writers.
The job prospects for technical writers are very good. Industry analysts expect the demand for these professionals to grow faster than the economy. Aspiring technical writers with a solid background in communications and technology can expect to find good opportunities for work. In particular, there will be a dramatic increase in demand for technical writers in electronics and high technology. Sophisticated electronic products will be available to an increasing number of consumers, which will naturally increase the demand for professionals who are competent at explaining operations and maintenance. There will be some competition for the best jobs, as well as for the entry-level positions, but in general, the prospects for prospective technical writers are excellent.