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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.
Hispanic or Latino7.8%
Black or African American0.6%
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Average Length of Employment
University of Phoenix14.1%
George Mason University6.5%
University of Texas at Austin5.4%
University of Houston5.3%
University of Washington5.3%
University of North Texas5.1%
San Jose State University4.9%
George Washington University4.8%
University of Maryland - University College4.8%
Pennsylvania State University4.4%
University of Central Florida4.0%
Utah State University4.0%
Arizona State University4.0%
University of South Florida3.8%
University of Colorado at Boulder3.7%
Michigan State University3.5%
Brigham Young University3.5%
University of Maryland - College Park3.3%
Carnegie Mellon University3.3%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Staff Technical Writer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Oct 13, 2016||$178,400|
|Staff Technical Writer||Salesforce.Com, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Jul 02, 2015||$130,500|
|Staff Technical Writer||Informatica LLC||Redwood City, CA||Apr 28, 2016||$130,000|
|Staff Technical Writer, Analytics||Salesforce.Com||San Francisco, CA||Nov 29, 2016||$128,000|
|Technical Writer III||Amazon Corporate LLC||Seattle, WA||Sep 13, 2016||$115,000|
|Technical Writer||Healthstream||Nashville, TN||Aug 27, 2015||$115,000|
|Technical Writer||Fortinet, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Jun 09, 2016||$114,400|
|Technical Writer||Ama Multimedia, LLC||Las Vegas, NV||Jan 27, 2015||$110,240|
|Technical Writer||Workday, Inc.||Pleasanton, CA||Jul 11, 2016||$108,000|
|Technical Writer||Workday, Inc.||Pleasanton, CA||Sep 16, 2016||$105,000|
|Technical Writer||Aivvy Inc.||Redwood City, CA||Sep 08, 2015||$104,350|
|Technical Writer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jun 14, 2016||$104,187|
|Tech Yahoo, Technical Writer||Yahoo! Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Oct 05, 2015||$103,170 -
|Tech Yahoo, Technical Writer||Yahoo! Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||May 10, 2015||$103,170 -
|Technical Writer||Wipro Limited||Quincy, MA||Apr 22, 2015||$68,182|
|Technical Writer||Wipro Limited||Quincy, MA||Apr 21, 2015||$68,182|
|Technical Writer||Qtech Solutions Inc.||Somerset, NJ||Jan 10, 2016||$68,000|
|Technical Writer (Legal)||Tab Networks, Inc.||Woodcliff Lake, NJ||Sep 30, 2015||$68,000|
|Technical Writer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jul 15, 2015||$67,933|
|Technical Writer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||May 18, 2015||$67,933|
|Technical Writer||Mobirocket, Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Aug 23, 2015||$67,933|
|Legal Technical Writer||AP Wireless Infrastructure Partners LLC||San Diego, CA||Jul 17, 2016||$59,987|
|Technical Writer||Ls Cable America, Inc.||Atlanta, GA||Nov 16, 2015||$59,779|
|Technical Writer||L&T Technology Services, Ltd.||Greencastle, PA||Apr 01, 2015||$59,700|
|Technical Writer||Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd||McConnellsburg, PA||Sep 04, 2015||$59,700|
|Research Technical Writer/Translation Specialist||Research Corporation of The University of Hawaii||Urban Honolulu, HI||Aug 15, 2016||$59,584|
|Technical Writer I||American Institutes for Research||Washington, DC||Sep 21, 2016||$59,322 -
|Technical Writer 1||X.Commerce||Culver City, CA||Oct 06, 2016||$59,160|
|Technical Writer 1||X.Commerce||Culver City, CA||Jun 21, 2015||$59,160|
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