Technical Writer

Job Description

Any time 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 go along with the product. They can also be part of writing product announcements, marketing brochures, advertisements, and marketing specifications in the time leading up to a project’s implementation.

Technical Writers must be able to convey complex information in a clear, concise way that is easy to understand for people with varying levels of technical skill. 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 needs of the audience they are writing for, and tailor the content to that group. Technical Writers are responsible for managing the consistency of technical content across different departments, from product development to manufacturing, marketing, and customer relations. Some Technical Writers also write journal articles about the products on which they’re working, as well as writing grant proposals for their employers.

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 Background

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications, or a related field.

Skills and Competencies

  • 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

Compensation

According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Technical Writer with

1 Year of Experience:

  • Orlando, Florida: $56,000
  • Tampa, Florida: $63,000
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $54,000
  • Miami, Florida: $52,000
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $73,000
  • Chicago, Illinois: $60,000
  • Houston, Texas: $61,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $60,000
  • New York City, New York: $77,000
  • Seattle, Washington: $62,000
  • Overall: $62,000

5 Years of Experience:

  • Orlando, Florida: $83,000
  • Tampa, Florida: $66,000
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $79,000
  • Miami, Florida: $70,000
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $78,000
  • Chicago, Illinois: $73,000
  • Houston, Texas: $70,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $75,000
  • New York City, New York: $80,000
  • Seattle, Washington: $84,000
  • Overall: $76,000

Similar Job Titles

  • Content Editor
  • Content Manager
  • Content Writer
  • Technical Editor
  • Documentation Engineer
  • Communication Specialist
  • Technical Communicator
  • Technical Author
  • Tech Writer
  • Technical Content Developer
  • Content Developer
  • Content Designer
  • Technical Information Developer
  • Information Architect
  • Documentation Specialist

Career Path

Technical Writers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, or a related field. Students who aspire to be Technical Writers are encouraged to pursue internships with tech companies that employ Technical Writers or companies in a particular field of interest, such as engineering.

It can also be useful for Technical Writers to obtain certifications in the field. The Society for Technical Communication, a professional association, offers multiple levels of certification in technical communication. It is also beneficial for Technical Writers to gain an understanding of how software and websites are created to get a better grasp of the development process.

In addition to general writing skills and knowledge, a Technical Writer needs to have soft skills like expertise in interviewing and collaborating. Technical Writers have to interview various members of the product development team to learn as much as possible about all aspects of a particular product to write informative technical documentation. Writing technical documents is a collaborative process, involving multiple members of a product development team to make sure all the documentation conveys a consistent message.

Position Trends

Since Technical Writers should always be aware of the needs of their audience, they need to keep up on trends in the field. According to the Society for Technical Communication, the use of structured documents is on the rise in the technical writing field. Structured documents use a form of coding or markup to allow for content reuse and agile documentation. It also allows for materials to be presented on multiple platforms.

Another trend in the technical writing field is the use of mobile delivery for technical documents. Since more computing is being done on smartphones, users need to be able to view technical documents easily on mobile devices. Users can’t always get to a desktop to read technical documents when they need to troubleshoot a problem with a product.

Context-sensitive help is another emerging trend in technical writing. It delivers targeted information to users right at the time it is needed. This often leads to a better user experience than forcing a user to sort through an entire document, searching for the information they need.

Job Outlook

The need for Technical Writers will likely increase as more parts of society switch from analog to digital. Companies will continue to need Technical Writers to write instructions and help create documents for new applications and software.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Technical Writer field is expected to grow by eight percent between 2018 and 2028, which is considered faster than average.

Typical Hours

The typical work hours for a Technical Writer in an office setting are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Freelance Technical Writers are often able to set their own hours and work remotely.

Where You Can Find Jobs

  • 4 Corner Resources
  • Career Builder
  • Glassdoor
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster 
  • Zip Recruiter
  • IT Career Finder

Are You Interested in Becoming a Technical Writer?

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