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Become A Technical Writing Consultant

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Working As A Technical Writing Consultant

  • 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

  • $67,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Technical Writing Consultant 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 Writing Consultant

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 Writing Consultant Career Paths

Technical Writing Consultant
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer Project Manager Marketing Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Technical Writer
9 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Consultant Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Consultant Operations Manager
Operations Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Consultant Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant, Information Technology Information Technology Project Manager
Contract Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant, Information Technology Information Technology Project Manager Business Development Manager
Proposal Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Consultant, Information Technology Manager Account Manager
Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Instructional Designer Training Manager Production Manager
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Instructional Designer Team Leader Group Leader
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Instructional Designer Senior Consultant Business Systems Senior Analyst
Product Owner
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Technical Writer
Technical Writer Lead
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Technical Writer Proposal Manager
Senior Proposal Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer And Editor Managing Editor Technical Writer
Technical Publications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Business Analyst Business Systems Senior Analyst Senior Data Analyst-
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Business Analyst Senior Software Engineer Senior Technical Consultant
Principal Technologist
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Technical Editor
Senior Technical Writer And Editor
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Business Analyst Senior Data Analyst- Information Manager
Knowledge Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Technical Writer 3.2 years
Technical Editor 3.0 years
Consultant 2.4 years
Writing Consultant 1.8 years
Top Careers Before Technical Writing Consultant
Consultant 4.1%
Writer 2.6%
Instructor 2.3%
Top Careers After Technical Writing Consultant
Consultant 4.3%
Instructor 3.4%
Editor 1.9%

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Top Skills for A Technical Writing Consultant

  1. Procedures
  2. Web Application
  3. User Manuals
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Documented business practices such as Disaster Recovery, Service Level Agreements, Change Process Management, Notification/Escalation and Network Outage Procedures.
  • Produced software user manuals, installation guides, technical specifications and documentation for software applications for military career management.
  • Provided high-level technical support to leading oil, gas, oil shale and mineral resource research firm.
  • Develop and facilitate instructor-led training programs.
  • Created and edited Cloud documentation for PetroTechnical Solutions division of global oil services company.

Technical Writing Consultant Demographics

Gender

Female

48.2%

Male

44.5%

Unknown

7.4%
Ethnicity

White

63.7%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

8.3%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

French

21.1%

Spanish

15.8%

German

10.5%

Japanese

10.5%

Tagalog

10.5%

Filipino

5.3%

Chinese

5.3%

Turkish

5.3%

Romanian

5.3%

Vietnamese

5.3%

Russian

5.3%
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Technical Writing Consultant Education

Schools

Northeastern University

8.2%

Fairleigh Dickinson University

6.8%

San Francisco State University

6.8%

Ohio University -

5.5%

University of Central Florida

5.5%

University of Houston

5.5%

University of Phoenix

5.5%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

5.5%

Ball State University

5.5%

Eastern Michigan University

4.1%

University of California - Santa Cruz

4.1%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

4.1%

Texas Tech University

4.1%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.1%

University of New Hampshire

4.1%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.1%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.1%

George Washington University

4.1%

San Diego State University

4.1%

University of Kansas

4.1%
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Majors

English

20.6%

Writing

18.8%

Business

11.5%

Communication

6.4%

Public Relations

5.0%

Education

4.1%

Computer Science

3.7%

Journalism

3.7%

Chemistry

3.2%

Electrical Engineering

2.8%

Political Science

2.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.8%

History

2.3%

Marketing

2.3%

School Counseling

1.8%

Management

1.8%

Elementary Education

1.8%

Graphic Design

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.4%

Pharmacy

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.5%

Masters

30.4%

Other

14.6%

Certificate

5.4%

Associate

4.2%

Doctorate

2.1%
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