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Become A Senior Technical Writer

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Working As A Senior Technical Writer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $74,013

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Technical Writer Do

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

Duties

Technical writers typically do the following:

  • Determine the needs of users of technical documentation
  • Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
  • Work with technical staff to make products easier to use and thus require fewer instructions
  • Organize and write supporting content for products
  • Use photographs, drawings, diagrams, animation, and charts that increase users’ understanding
  • Select appropriate medium for message or audience, such as manuals or online videos
  • Standardize content across platforms and media
  • Gather user feedback to update and improve content
  • Revise content as new issues arise

Technical writers create paper-based and digital operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, and “frequently asked questions” pages to help technical support staff, consumers, and other users within a company or an industry. After a product is released, technical writers also may work with product liability specialists and customer-service managers to improve the end-user experience through product design changes.

Technical writers often work with computer hardware engineers, scientists, computer support specialists, and software developers to manage the flow of information among project workgroups during development and testing. Therefore, technical writers must be able to understand complex information and communicate the information to people with diverse professional backgrounds.

Applying their knowledge of the user of the product, technical writers may serve as part of a team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that is in the prototype stage. Technical writers may conduct research on their topics through personal observation, library and Internet research, and discussions with technical specialists.

Technical writers are also responsible for managing the consistency of technical content and its use across business departments including product development, manufacturing, marketing, and customer relations.

Some technical writers help write grant proposals for research scientists and institutions.

Increasingly, technical information is being delivered online and through social media. Technical writers are using the interactive technologies of the Web and social media to blend text, graphics, multidimensional images, sound, and video.

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How To Become A Senior Technical Writer

A college degree is usually required for a position as a technical writer. In addition, experience with a technical subject, such as computer science, Web design, or engineering, is important.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Web design experience also is helpful because of the growing use of online technical documentation.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some technical writers begin their careers as specialists or research assistants in a technical field. They eventually develop technical communication skills and assume primary responsibilities for technical writing. In small firms, beginning technical writers may work on projects right away; in larger companies with more standard procedures, beginners may observe experienced technical writers and interact with specialists before being assigned projects.

Training

Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offer certification for technical writers. In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing. These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and allied scientific communication fields.

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a technical writer’s opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Prospects for advancement generally include working on more complex projects and leading or training junior staff. Some technical writers become self-employed and produce work on a freelance basis.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technical writers must be able to take complex, technical information and translate it for colleagues and consumers who have nontechnical backgrounds.

Detail oriented. Technical writers create detailed instructions for others to follow. As a result, they must be detailed and precise at every step so that the instructions can be useful.

Imagination. Technical writers must be able to think about a procedure or product in the way a person without technical experience would think about it.

Teamwork. Technical writers must be able to work well with others. They are almost always part of a team: with other writers; with designers, editors, and illustrators; and with the technical people whose information they are explaining.

Technical skills. Technical writers must be able to understand highly complex information. Many technical writers need a background in engineering or computer science in order to do this.

Writing skills. Technical communicators must have excellent writing skills to be able to explain technical information clearly.

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Senior Technical Writer jobs

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Real Senior Technical Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Technical Writer Microsoft Corporation Bellevue, WA Jul 02, 2015 $129,779
Senior Technical Writer Salesforce.Com, Inc. San Francisco, CA Aug 04, 2013 $125,970
Senior Technical Writer Green Chef Inc. Mountain View, CA Feb 26, 2016 $125,000
Senior Technical Writer Salesforce.Com San Francisco, CA Mar 03, 2015 $122,000
Senior Technical Writer Vmware, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Apr 13, 2015 $120,399
Senior Technical Writer Couchbase, Inc. Mountain View, CA Jun 25, 2015 $117,915 -
$130,000
Senior Technical Writer Microsoft Corporation San Francisco, CA Jan 30, 2012 $116,833
Senior Technical Writer Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Oct 01, 2012 $114,080
Senior Technical Writer Salesforce.Com, Inc. San Francisco, CA Dec 05, 2014 $113,300
Senior Technical Writer Vmware, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Jul 13, 2016 $113,000 -
$143,000
Senior Technical Writer Salesforce.Com, Inc. San Francisco, CA Dec 05, 2011 $110,000
Senior Technical Writer Nicira, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Jul 20, 2015 $105,664
Senior Technical Writer Uber Technologies, Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 28, 2015 $105,000 -
$115,000
Senior Technical Writer Spirent Communications, Inc. San Jose, CA Feb 14, 2016 $105,000 -
$115,000
Senior Technical Writer Spirent Communications, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Feb 17, 2013 $100,000 -
$110,000
SR. Technical Writer Vmware, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Jul 01, 2013 $99,840
Senior Technical Writer The Mathworks, Inc. Natick, MA Jan 17, 2014 $98,241
Senior Technical Writer Akraya Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Dec 22, 2014 $95,992
Senior Technical Writer Spirent Communications, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Feb 17, 2011 $95,035 -
$110,000
Senior Technical Writer Reltio, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Sep 25, 2015 $95,000
Senior Technical Writer EPAM Systems, Inc. Newtown, PA Mar 12, 2015 $92,498
Senior Technical Writer Spansion LLC Sunnyvale, CA Jan 05, 2010 $91,901
Senior Technical Writer Advantage Technical Resourcing, Inc. Hopkinton, MA Oct 03, 2011 $81,226
Senior Technical Writer Cloudhealth Technologies, Inc. Boston, MA Jun 09, 2016 $80,000 -
$110,000
Senior Technical Writer Mass Spectra, Inc. San Diego, CA Aug 08, 2014 $79,348
Senior Technical Writer Navis LLC Oakland, CA Sep 13, 2012 $78,783
Senior Technical Writer Clarity Software Solutions Madison, CT Mar 09, 2015 $78,000
Senior Technical Writer The Mathworks, Inc. Natick, MA Sep 13, 2016 $77,700 -
$121,500
Senior Technical Writer The Mathworks, Inc. Natick, MA Sep 09, 2015 $77,700 -
$121,500
Senior Technical Writer Solbright, Inc. Cupertino, CA Jun 01, 2010 $77,250

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Top Skills for A Senior Technical Writer

MaintenanceProceduresOnlineDocumentationWebAdobeFramemakerTechnicalDocumentationVisioSharepointSubjectMatterExpertsReleaseNotesHtmlSmesUserManualsRobohelpXMLPowerpointAPITrainingMaterialsSuiteContentManagementSystemUserInterface

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Top Senior Technical Writer Skills

  1. Maintenance Procedures
  2. Online Documentation
  3. Web
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Observed production activities determining operating and maintenance procedures.
  • Developed a user feedback form to determine what methods customers used to locate information in online documentation.
  • Created content for online orientations via web tools and text editor.
  • Created and edited hardware and software documentation using Adobe FrameMaker and Microsoft Word.
  • Revised technical documentation style guide to ensure consistency between writers and across product groups.

Top Senior Technical Writer Employers

Senior Technical Writer Videos

Introduction to Technical Writing

Pražské PyVo #36: Senior Technical Writer at Red Hat - Mikey Ariel

Technical Writing: How to Simplify Sentences

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