How to become a technical writer
At first, what is technical writing itself. Technical writing is a type of writing activity that describes explanations, directions or instruction to a particular subject. There are different kinds of tech writing, but all of them require to use straightforward, easy to understand an efficient language for describing.
Technical writing is required in many spheres, so it’s possible to find yourself in a branch you really interested in. Here are the particular steps on how to become a technical writer:
- Identify what sphere you’d like to write for. Consider that some vacancies require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine.
- If you already have a bachelor’s Degree then pass the certification.
- Ask your current employer, open source software company or any local entrepreneurs about writing documentation for free or at a low price. It gives you an opportunity both to get real working experience and sharpen your skill.
- Start collecting your portfolio. There is no need to include into portfolio all of your writing, 10-15 the best pieces are enough. It’s a great advantage if you have examples of writing from the sphere you’re applying for.
- Work at your soft skills. The essential skill set for a technical writer is:
- sociability, teamwork,
- good command of the language,
- at least common technical skills.
- Get experience working with tech writing software: authoring tools (tech documentation software often has a free trial about a month long or can be free for single users), graphics editors.
See also - 10 free tools for tech writing
- Try yourself as a freelancer. It gives you both relevant working experience and the opportunity to check if this is a job you would like to do for a living. Here some places to start searching from: upwork.com, allfreelancewriting.com, bloggingpro.com.
- Gain more experience to become more proficient and raise the payment rate. So you’ve already a writer and can decide whether you’d like to continue working as a freelancer or find yourself a full-time job.
Here is the list of basic requirements to become a technical writer:
- Ability to express ideas clearly and diplomatically.
- Impeccable spelling & grammar skills.
- Bachelor’s Degree in English, Technical Writing, Technical Communications or a related to company field.
- 2-5 years of writing experience. But there are always some vacancies for a job seeker with no proper experience.
- Experience with Authoring tools, MS Office, visualization software for creating diagrams.
- Written and oral communication skills, ability to obtain information from experts like product managers, business analysts, developers and etc.
- Ability to juggle multiple projects on tight deadlines.
- High level of self-motivation, ability to work independently with minimal guidance and supervision.
- Ability to learn quickly and figure things out, even if you don’t have experience in a specific tool or topic.
What perspective does technical writing have
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 52400 technical writers in the USA, but still, 8000+ specialists are required. Moreover, tech writing is growing sphere and by 2026 need in such specialist will grow 11% more.
Typical salary is $70,930 per year or $34.10 per hour (median wage, May’17).
Instead of conclusion
Technical writing is not going to disappear as a profession soon, it’s expanding and you’ll stay employed for long.
To be more competitive never stop learning: improve your language, gain sphere specifical knowledge, do study the other writer’s tech documentation examples. Update your portfolio on a regular basis to keep it filled with really best examples of your writing.
And enjoy your job, you’re doing a really helpful work.