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Technical writers earn higher on average than non-technical writers, according to our 2020 Freelance Writing Landscape Report.
The work of a technical writer is to simplify complex information for those who need it to achieve a desired goal. Technical writers are an essential part of any startup or organization, as they are the bridge between the creators and users of a product.
Whether you are a newbie in writing or you want to diversify your portfolio and experience by exploring the space of technical writing, this article is for you. We will equip you with everything you need to know about technical writing and how you can become one.
Who is a Technical Writer?
A technical writer is a person who uses their writing to make complex information easy to understand and helps end-users know how a product works. As a technical writer, your job is to break down technical concepts as clearly, simply, and accurately as possible to your audience.
Technical writing is quite different from other forms of writing because the writers do not reveal anything about themselves in their writing. Technical writers create user manuals, journal articles, reference guides, white papers, and contents for web pages and social media.
That being said, according to the Society for Technical Communication, most technical writers are usually focused on the in-house audience instead of end-users and consumers. Here, they write internal documents that help product designers create user-friendly products.
Technical writers also create technical reports that help the management team of an organization to understand its performance over a given period.
How to Become a Technical Writer
To become a technical writer, you must develop your writing, designing, formatting, and research skills. Here are key steps to follow if you want to become a technical writer:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree
- Get a technical writing certificate
- Build a portfolio of samples
- Network with professionals
- Stay up to date with industry trends
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
You can become a technical writer with an associate degree, but you ideally need a bachelor’s degree in fields like information technology, data science, engineering, technical communications, and journalism, to improve your chances of landing a good technical writer job.
2. Get a technical writing certificate
Certification programs are optional, but they give you an edge when applying for technical writing positions. Short course certifications are an excellent way of showing that you actually have the skills and knowledge you outlined in your resume.
Some technical writing certifications you can go for include: The Society for Technical Communication (STC) certification, and the Communicaid Technical Writing course.
These certifications are from the world’s leading providers of Technical Writing training courses. So, if you are looking for courses that capture the ins and outs of technical writing, look no further.
3. Build a portfolio of samples
As you begin to develop your technical writing skills, the best way to grow is to build a portfolio of samples by offering to take on relevant writing projects from your friends and professional network.
Regardless of the size of employer or project, you should give all projects your best shot because you are going to use them in building your portfolio as a technical writer and attracting better clients.
4. Network with professionals
The thing is, possessing a bachelor’s degree is good; getting certifications is good; building your writing portfolio is good, but all these are not enough by themselves. You need to have the right network if you want to become a reputable, sought-after technical writer.
People network in different ways. You can join a professional association of technical writers, and attend events where you network with professionals in the science, IT, medicine and engineering world. With the right network and communities, you can find volunteer, freelance, internship, and full-time technical writing roles to boost your career.
5. Stay up to date with industry trends
Technology evolves quickly, so the knowledge of yesterday becomes old fast. In light of this, it would be best if web and software development skills are part of your résumé and you stay aware of your relevant industry trends like cloud help authoring and full-text search.
With cloud help authoring tools like Document360 and Docmenta, you can have access to your document from any location and make edits in real-time. On the other hand, full-text search allows you to find a word/phrase within a document. It saves your time and energy, especially when searching through long-form text.
There you have it. Following the steps we have outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a good and profitable technical writer. Have more questions on this topic? Let us know in the comments below.
Feature image via Pexels.