Technical writing refers to the drafting of communication involving technical terminology and details. Technical writing is usually associated with technical fields such as Computer Science, IT, Engineering, etc. Who is in charge of this technical terminology? That would be a technical writer!
Technical Writer Job description
Technical writers, also known as technical communicators or editors, work on preparing instruction manuals and/or training documents, journal articles, assembly instructions, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.
They also work to develop, gather, and introduce technical information among customers, designers, and manufacturers. They may work within the company itself, where they standardize, for example, terms used to describe processes.
Make difficult technical processes easy to understand – This is essentially the job of the technical writer.
What processes does this refer to? There are different types of content in technical writing:
- Technical guidelines
- Technical e-books and white papers
- Training documents
- Repair manuals
- How-to manuals on operating software and mechanical processes
- Scientific documentation
They break down difficult to understand process terminology into easy-to-read text.
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Responsibilities of a Technical Writer
As a technical writer, there is a lot of research to be done. They strive to examine what information the target group needs and how it needs to be prepared. They then work to process documents, translate sources and edit texts.
In addition, a tech writer ensures that the wording of the text is legally and technically flawless. In addition to concept development, layout and design work on internal company terminology, localization, and data maintenance are also important areas of responsibility.
Technical writers often have to work with engineers, developers, and/or scientists to handle and manage any information between different teams.
Therefore, they must be able to grasp complex data and relay the information to people who may not necessarily come from scientific backgrounds.
Some writers also work on writing proposals for grants awarded by institutes for research.
More and more, technical data is now being delivered online, and technical writers are required to have extensive knowledge of these online platforms, gateways, and media.
Tasks of a Technical Writer:
- Determine requirements of end-users
- Analyze product samples and communicate with product designers and developers
- Identify ways to minimize the use of technical instructions
- Curate, edit, and write supporting documents for products
- Employ diagrams, drawings, and/or other visual media to enhance the user’s understanding
- Pick and choose the appropriate medium to communicate processes or instructions
- Standardize company processes across platforms and media
- Gather feedback and work to implement it in the process
Technical Writing Skills
The profession of a technical writer often requires very good knowledge of English and IT. Many technical terms are internationally standardized in English and so it is generally ideal to be proficient in the English language in most industries.
As this is a profession that requires linguistic accuracy, the ability to express oneself is one of the most important skills.
They need to be skilled in technical writing and be able to write on a topic that requires complex explanation and direction. They have to produce documentation in an understandable and precise manner and requires a great deal of terminological sensitivity.
Apart from this technical know-how, a high level of teamwork and communication skills are also essential soft skills to possess since oftentimes, a technical writer works closely with other members of a team.
What skills should a Technical Writer have?
- Experienced in technical writing
- Detail-oriented and diligent
- Excellent writing skills
- Communication Skills
- Teamwork and intercommunication
- Language skills – especially in English
- Knowledge of technical terminology
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Technical Writing Background
As a general rule, a technical writer is an engineer or an information technician. Alternatively, he or she has a degree in an editorial field.
Companies also offer the opportunity to start their careers through an internship. In addition, lateral entry into a technical writing department is also possible.
The profession of technical editor/writer is already a specialization.
However, since the fields of technology and IT are very complex, writers can specialize further. This enables them to set themselves apart from the competition. A technical writer could, therefore, have a core area of expertise that they write about.
This could range between anything from smartphones and operating systems to cameras, industrial machines or measurement technology. In the case of engineers and information technicians, specialization is usually derived from their academic studies.
There are a great number of Technical Writing Certifications available for freelancers looking to amp up their freelance resumes. Although not mandatory, certifications are a great way to showcase competence and make yourself stand out to potential employers.
Some technical writing certifications recommended:
- Professional Certification through the Society for Technical Communication
- Technical Writing Course by Communicaid
The salary of a technical writer depends strongly on the size of the company, the education and degree of specialization, as well as professional experience.
A typical starting salary is around $45,000 gross. On average, a technical writer earns around $61,000 a year. Top earners earn up to $84,000 gross annually.
How much does a technical writer earn?
How much does freelance tech writers charge?
The average freelancer hourly rate of a Technical Writer is $97 per hour. Considering an 8-hour working day, the daily rate is around $928 per day (freelancermap rate index – as of October 2019).
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