How To Become a Technical Writer

That repair manual sure made it easy to fix that broken ceiling fan. And that how-to guide made putting together your child’s playhouse a breeze. Don’t forget the flyer that made it easier to understand the town board’s new plan for fixing the sidewalks. But who writes all this stuff? Technical writers.

Technical writers are the writers who make complex technical information easy to understand. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you what it takes to become one.

5 Steps to Getting Started in a Technical Writing Career

What Is a Technical Writer?

A technical writer is a trained professional tasked with translating complex technical information into clear, concise language that the end user (usually a person with a nontechnical background) can understand. Technical writers often have backgrounds in a technical field like engineering or science and frequently work with subject matter experts to ensure information is correct.

As you might assume, since there are various technical industries, there are various types of technical writers. Some of them are:

  • Technology technical writers. These writers create user manuals for software and technology products.
  • Business technical writers. These writers create documents like proposals, contracts, and other financial documents.
  • Engineering technical writers. These writers create schematics, diagrams, and other documentation for engineering products.
  • Medical technical writers. These writers create documents for medical and scientific products like clinical reports and research papers.
  • Education technical writers. These writers create textbooks, training manuals, and other instructional education materials.

What Do Technical Writers Do?

Because there are so many different industries and types of technical writers, roles and responsibilities can vary. However, technical writers have many similar tasks, such as:

  • Researching information
  • Communicating with clients
  • Writing technical documentation
  • Editing and proofreading using proper grammar
  • Collaborating with subject matter experts and other team members
  • Updating documentation when necessary
  • Formatting and designing documents
  • Managing multiple projects simultaneously

5 Steps To Become a Technical Writer

Interested in becoming a technical writer? We’ve broken down how to pursue this career into five easy steps. Take a look:

    1. Earn a bachelor’s degree (or two) in a field that can prepare you for technical writing, such as engineering, English, science, or a related field. Excelsior University’s Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts emphasizes critical analysis, effective communication skills, ethical decision-making, and collaboration with diverse thinkers. This general liberal arts degree is a flexible and effective way to integrate past learning with new educational goals and emerge prepared for a range of job opportunities.
    2. Apply for internships and apprenticeships. Aspiring technical writers can gain experience in the field through internships and apprenticeships. Check your school’s career center, look on social media, or apply to companies directly to find opportunities.
    3. Create a portfolio. Creating a strong portfolio of your work showcases your strong technical writing skills to potential employers. Try incorporating examples of your best technical guides, instruction manuals, and other projects that you think show your best work. Creating a portfolio online versus paper is a good idea, too. Try checking with your school’s career center for their tips.
    4. Join associations. There are a variety of associations for technical writers that offer tips, advice, and help. Some associations include the Society for Technical Communication, National Association of Science Writers, Association of Independent Information Professionals, and American Medical Writers Association.
    5. Earn certifications. To further make yourself stand out as a professional technical writer and make potential employers take special notice of you, try becoming certified. Becoming certified shows you are willing to expand your knowledge and keep up with the changing career field. Some certifications include Certified Professional Technical Communicator, Adobe Certified Expert: Technical Communication Suite, and Microsoft Office Specialist.

Job Outlook for Technical Writers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), technical writers make on average $78,060 per year. Employment is expected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as all occupations. The BLS predicts about 5,400 openings for technical writers each year over the next decade because the technical writing industry is increasingly becoming more popular. In addition to excellent writing skills, technical writers must have extensive technical knowledge—which is something not all professional writers possess. As such, the job field for technical writers remains fruitful and positive.

If you’re interested in becoming a technical writer, there’s no better time than now to jump in the field!