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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|
|Technical Publications Writer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Feb 24, 2014||$178,400|
|Senior Technical Publications Writer-Dentistry||Spear Education, LLC||Scottsdale, AZ||Jul 28, 2015||$120,000|
|Technical Publications Writer, Scientific Liaison||The United States Pharmacopeial Convention||Rockville, MD||Apr 04, 2014||$94,101|
|Technical Publications Writer, Scientific Liaison||The United States Pharmacopeial Convention||Rockville, MD||Apr 04, 2011||$80,000|
|Technical Publications Writer, Molecular Diagnostics||Life Technologies Corporation-Applied Biosystems, LLC||Carlsbad, CA||Aug 22, 2015||$79,082 -
|Technical Publications Writer, Molecular Diagnostics||Applied Biosystems, LLC||Carlsbad, CA||Aug 22, 2015||$79,082 -
|Technical Publications Writer, Molecular Diagnostics||Applied Biosystems, LLC||South San Francisco, CA||Aug 22, 2015||$79,082 -
|Technical Publication Writer||Simarn Solutions||Irving, TX||Mar 19, 2012||$79,040|
|Technical Publication Writer||Simarn LLC||Irving, TX||Mar 19, 2012||$79,040|
|Writer, Technical Publications||Chesapeake System Solutions, Inc. DBA Chesapeake||MD||Apr 01, 2012||$76,843|
|Technical Publications Writer 3||Dematic Corp||Grand Rapids, MI||Oct 02, 2016||$69,826|
|Technical Publications Writer||Playdom, Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Sep 15, 2010||$65,208|
|Technical Publications Writer||Playdom, Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Sep 15, 2010||$65,000|
|Technical Publications Writer||Singulex, Inc.||Alameda, CA||Oct 01, 2010||$64,410 -
|Technical Publications Writer||Magento Inc.||Culver City, CA||Oct 31, 2011||$58,000|
|Technical Publications Writer (Content Producer)||Yahoo! Inc.||Burbank, CA||Jan 17, 2010||$55,600 -
|Technical Publications Writer||Spiral Universe, Inc.||White Plains, NY||Oct 20, 2009||$55,000|
|Technical Publications Writer||Hiller's Inc.||Southfield, MI||Mar 31, 2008||$52,175|
|Technical Publications Writer||The Everglades Club||Palm Beach, FL||Oct 01, 2011||$50,088|
|Technical Publications Writer||The Everglades Club, Inc.||Palm Beach, FL||Oct 01, 2009||$50,088|
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