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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:
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.
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.
|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 -
|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 -
|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 -
|Senior Technical Writer||Spirent Communications, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Feb 14, 2016||$105,000 -
|Senior Technical Writer||Spirent Communications, Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Feb 17, 2013||$100,000 -
|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 -
|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 -
|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 -
|Senior Technical Writer||The Mathworks, Inc.||Natick, MA||Sep 09, 2015||$77,700 -
|Senior Technical Writer||Solbright, Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jun 01, 2010||$77,250|
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