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Become A Technical Writer/Trainer

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Working As A Technical Writer/Trainer

  • 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

  • $65,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Technical Writer/Trainer 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 Technical Writer/Trainer

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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Technical Writer/Trainer Jobs

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Technical Writer/Trainer Career Paths

Technical Writer/Trainer
Technical Writer Business Analyst Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Project Manager Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Consultant Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Program Manager
Deputy Program Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Senior Business Analyst
Product Owner
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Business Development Manager
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Proposal Writer Proposal Manager
Senior Proposal Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Instructional Designer Senior Training Specialist
Senior Technical Trainer
7 Yearsyrs
Instructional Designer Assistant Professor Education Consultant
Educational Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Managing Editor Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Managing Editor Content Manager
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technical Business Analyst Business Systems Senior Analyst Senior Data Analyst-
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Training Specialist Document Specialist
Senior Documentation Specialist
7 Yearsyrs
Training Specialist Field Service Technician Senior Technologist
Principal Technologist
10 Yearsyrs
Training Consultant Marketing Consultant Communications Consultant
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Production Manager Print Production Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Author Senior Editor
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Technical Editor Managing Editor Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Document Manager Document Control Manager Information Manager
Knowledge Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Technical Writer/Trainer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Technical Writer 3.2 years
Technical Trainer 3.1 years
Lead Writer 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Technical Writer/Trainer
Trainer 5.2%
Consultant 3.9%
Instructor 3.7%
Teacher 2.7%
Editor 2.7%
Top Careers After Technical Writer/Trainer
Consultant 4.8%
Owner 2.0%
Trainer 2.0%

Do you work as a Technical Writer/Trainer?

Technical Writer/Trainer Demographics

Gender

Female

48.9%

Male

44.5%

Unknown

6.6%
Ethnicity

White

66.1%

Black or African American

12.1%

Hispanic or Latino

12.0%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.2%

French

17.0%

German

10.6%

Italian

10.6%

Japanese

6.4%

Portuguese

4.3%

Swedish

2.1%

Hawaiian

2.1%

Filipino

2.1%

Danish

2.1%

Hebrew

2.1%

Dutch

2.1%

Russian

2.1%
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Technical Writer/Trainer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.8%

Pennsylvania State University

7.0%

George Mason University

7.0%

University of Alabama

5.1%

Brigham Young University

5.1%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.1%

Strayer University

5.1%

Villanova University

4.4%

Illinois State University

4.4%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

4.4%

Community College of the Air Force

4.4%

University of South Florida

3.8%

George Washington University

3.8%

Webster University

3.8%

Portland State University

3.8%

University of Houston

3.8%

City College of New York of the City University of New York

3.8%

New York University

3.2%

Wayne State University

3.2%

Michigan State University

3.2%
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Majors

Business

17.5%

English

14.1%

Education

7.6%

Writing

6.8%

Communication

5.3%

Computer Science

5.0%

Elementary Education

4.2%

Project Management

4.2%

Psychology

3.9%

Computer Information Systems

3.6%

Educational Technology

3.3%

Electrical Engineering

3.2%

Public Relations

3.2%

Information Technology

3.2%

Management

3.0%

Liberal Arts

2.9%

Journalism

2.4%

Graphic Design

2.3%

History

2.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.2%

Masters

26.5%

Other

13.1%

Associate

6.8%

Certificate

6.2%

Doctorate

3.3%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.2%
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Top Skills for A Technical Writer/Trainer

  1. Training Programs
  2. Procedures
  3. Technical Support
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Evaluate instructor performance and the effectiveness of training programs, providing recommendations for improvement.
  • Developed and wrote manufacturing procedures, equipment maintenance manuals, technical bulletins, customer training materials, and internal safety documentation.
  • Preform technical writing and customer support/IT technical support for users of software and overall retail operational skills.
  • Developed and edited online help integrated into CAD/CAM/CAE application.
  • Managed multiple projects simultaneously and led cross-functional teams of subject matter experts to deliver learning solutions within tight deadlines.

How Would You Rate Working As a Technical Writer/Trainer?

Are you working as a Technical Writer/Trainer? Help us rate Technical Writer/Trainer as a Career.

Top Technical Writer/Trainer Employers

Jobs From Top Technical Writer/Trainer Employers

Technical Writer/Trainer Videos

Writer For Hire: How To Become a Six-Figure Freelance Writer

Technical Writing in 20 minutes - Part 1

Executive Training Series - Effective Email Writing

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