What Does a Technical Writer Do?
When a team of developers puts together a software product, users will need instructions on how to use and troubleshoot the product. A technical writer helps put those instructions and supporting documents together. Technical writers write how-to guides, quick reference guides, and cheat sheets to accompany the product. They can also be part of writing product announcements, marketing brochures, advertisements, and marketing specifications leading up to a project’s implementation.
Technical writers must convey complex information in a clear, concise way that is easy to understand for people with varying levels of knowledge and familiarity. They are often also involved in developing training materials to teach users about software products. A technical writer can also study how the product is being used after it is released to help the development team create updates and modifications.
A technical writer needs to be aware of the audience’s needs and tailor the content to that group. Technical writers are responsible for managing the consistency of documented content across different departments, from product development to manufacturing, marketing, and customer relations. Some technical writers may write journal articles about the products on which they’re working or grant proposals for their employers.
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National Average Salary
Technical writer salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Technical Writer is:
Technical Writer Job Descriptions
Crafting the perfect job description may be the key to finding an exceptional technical writer. To help you with your recruiting search, our team has put together some examples from past openings.
Technical writers prepare technical documentation to end-users by gathering and analyzing technical and product information and consulting with engineering and technical staff. They also develop documentation templates for the system, database, and program information. Technical writers must have excellent writing, editing, and communication skills, the ability to thrive under pressure, and be able to clearly present technical content to end-users. If you have experience writing clear and concise technical content and exceptional writing skills, you might be a perfect fit as a technical writer for us.
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Organize material and complete writing assignments according to set standards regarding order, clarity, conciseness, style, and terminology
- Maintain records and files of work and revisions
- Edit, standardize, or make changes to material prepared by other writers or establishment personnel
- Study drawings, specifications, mockups, and product samples to integrate and delineate technology, operating procedure, and production sequence and detail
- Interview production and engineering personnel and read journals and other material to become familiar with product technologies and production method
- Observe production, developmental, and experimental activities to determine operating procedure and detail
- Review published materials and recommend revisions or changes in scope, format, content, and methods of reproduction and binding
Education and experience
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications, or a related field.
Required skills and qualifications
- Experience working in a technical writing position
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite
- Strong attention to detail
- Able to write in explanatory and procedural styles for multiple audiences
- Excellent prioritization and multitasking skills
- 5+ years working as a writer
- Experience with SEO, app development language, and content writing
- Strong written skills
- Excellent grammar skills
This position will routinely collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs), trainers, and management in developing and producing necessary materials for operational processes and accreditation compliance.
- Creates, manages and updates documentation within the document control system. Partners with key business units to manage change(s), solicit feedback and ensures compliance and integrity of content. Facilitates document management analysis to senior management, document and recommend potential solutions for process improvement. Ensures material(s) are effective, current and relevant. Develops flowcharts, organizational charts and other tools useful in organizing and defining operational processes. Assures that all documents required for accreditation and or regulatory compliance are updated and maintained on a priority basis.
- Evaluates information to determine compliance with standards using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes are in compliance. Identifies and validates information and makes recommendations for changes and/or updates. Develops specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish tasks.
- Uses logic, reason, and knowledge to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Uses effective communication. Understands written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. Communicate effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience. Understands the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. Verbally communicates with others to convey information effectively. Reads and understands written information and ideas.
- Maintains positive, cooperative, and mutually supportive relationships with all instructional staff, and support personnel. Serves as technical advisor on all written materials relating to the development, delivery, and evaluation of documentation.
- Other responsibilities as judgment or necessity dictate
- Constantly (67-100% of time OR 6 or more hours) required to sit, use hands to handle or feel, talk, and hear
- Frequently (34-66% of time OR 4-6 hours ) required to reach with hands and arms
- Occasionally (0-33% of time OR 1-3 hours) required to stand, walk and stoop, kneel, and crouch
- Occasionally (0-33% of time OR 1-3 hours) required to lift and/or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds
- Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and ability to adjust focus
- Write and produce content for publication on the online channels, with a primary focus on writing articles for our corporate blog
- Articles will convey a sense of the company’s services, values, culture, and heritage to public audiences
- Deploy approved articles to the website
- Participate in planning and brainstorming sessions for online content calendar
- Act as backup content creator for social media channels as needed, including writing social posts and taking or editing photos or videos
- Create and distribute statistical reporting of online content’s performance as needed
- Act as backup administrator for social channels, including responding to comments and private messages, updating or deleting content, etc. as needed
- Bachelor’s degree or greater in a related field such as journalism, communications, public relations etc.
- Two or more years of experience writing and producing online content in a corporate, governmental, non-profit, or agency environment
- A strong online content portfolio is required including long-form articles. Demonstrated writing, editing, and interviewing skills
- Understanding of web writing principles as opposed to print
- Experience working diplomatically with internal clients and sources while maintaining corporate standards
- Experience managing multiple projects on deadline and publishing to a schedule. This role will involve working on multiple articles simultaneously
- Must be familiar with AP Style or commit to learning it
- Availability to occasionally work extended hours or on weekends (this happens rarely)
- Proficiency with photo editing in Adobe Photoshop and some experience with a range of content creation tools (examples could include Canva, WeVideo, Premiere Rush, After Effects, Illustrator, etc.) is a plus
- Experience with at least one major social media management platform (examples could include Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Social Studio etc.) is a plus
- Videography and video editing skills are a plus
- Experience working with OpenText Teamsite platform is a plus
The ideal candidate will create, review, edit, and publish technical documentation on products and internal processes.
- Researches, writes, edits, and proofreads product implementation documentation within established time frames and produces illustrations and screenshots for the documentation when necessary
- Coordinate with groups downstream from development to ensure requested/required documentation of various development efforts are captured and passed to downstream groups
- Conducts and/or assists in documentation planning tasks, including preparing documentation plans, defining audience, performing task analysis, and establishing project schedules
- Conducts tests and solicits feedback to ensure the clarity, completeness, technical accuracy, and quality of the documents produced
- As assigned, reviews and validates technical documentation produced by other departments or by other writers to ensure technical accuracy and adherence to styles
- Helps identify needs and creates templates in MadCap Flare for various types of technical publications
- Perform other related duties, as required
- Responsible for ensuring that all security, availability, confidentiality, and privacy policies and controls are adhered to
Experience and knowledge
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in Technical Communication, English, Journalism, or related field
- Typically requires a minimum of two years of technical writing experience with demonstrated writing and analytical skills
- Must possess a comprehensive understanding of software development processes
- Knowledge of programming languages, specifically SQL, is desired
- Knowledge of banking practices is highly desired
- Knowledge of help authoring software, specifically MadCap Flare and single sourcing is highly desired.
- Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
- Strong teamwork, organization, and problem-solving skills
- Ability to work effectively in a collaborative working environment and be highly proactive
- Ability to travel to customer sites, if needed
Candidate Certifications to Look For
- Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC). The Society for Technical Communication (STC) certification program is split into 3 tiers. The Foundation tier is for entry-level technical writers and demonstrates a sound knowledge of the principles of technical communication. The Practitioner tier proves candidates have a high proficiency in applying the best practices of technical communication. The Expert tier is designed for experienced technical writers and demonstrates the highest level of expertise as a technical communicator. To be eligible for the CPTC certifications, candidates must become a member of the STC.
- Tech-Writer Certification Programs. Tech-Writer offers several certification programs designed for technical writers of all levels who want to advance their technical writing careers. The Basic Certificate in technical writing consists of 3 courses for entry-level candidates who want to learn technical writing. The Certificate In Professional Technical Communication helps candidates develop their skills specific to the field of technical writing. They learn advanced writing styles and competencies needed to create technical written reports, project proposals, feasibility studies, website communications, and other forms of technical correspondence.
Sample Interview Questions
- What do you think are the characteristics of good technical writing?
- What interests you about being a technical writer in our industry?
- How do you keep up to date on industry trends?
- What software tools are you proficient with?
- What strengths do you bring to this position?
- What tools do you bring when you interview subject matter experts?
- What is a white paper?
- How do you handle negative criticism from your editor?
- What are your professional goals over the next five years?
- What are the main differences between MS Word and Framemaker?
- Can you describe your research process?
- How many words do you typically write in a workday?
- What challenges have you encountered in collecting the information?
- Can you explain the difference between HTML and XML?
- What skills do you possess that qualify you as a technical writer?
- What documentation would you use to deliver technical content?
- How do you stay motivated?
- How do you prioritize your work?
- What is your method for determining who your target audience is?
- Which publication tools are you familiar with? Which do you prefer?