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How to Become a Technical Writer? Advice From Experts

Anyone can write, but not everyone can write clear, concise, and logical pieces that make tough or complex processes appear seamless. This is a skill only a few lucky passionate technical writers boast. So if you’ve always wanted a career that involves pen and paper and also love learning something new every day, you’d have an easy time fitting in the technical writing industry. To confirm whether this field of writing is a good fit for you, here is a well-detailed outline defining a technical writer and how to become one.

What is a Technical Writer?

In the simplest terms possible, a freelance technical writer is an individual whose works revolve around explaining the design, the functions, or treatment of a particular product or service. They do so with the aim of enabling the user, in most cases the consumer or in other instances the technician understand how the mentioned works.

Therefore, unlike other writers who use their works to tell the world about themselves, a technical writer writes nothing about themselves. They instead focus on giving out details about a particular process or system in a manner that is as humanly and as easy to understand as possible. They prepare and write large and small manuals, articles, journals, and a whole string of other documents. All these are aimed at breaking down intricate details about something into small, easy to digest pieces of information.

Technical Writer Job Description

So what does a technical writer do? Well, as described above, their work mainly revolves around creating documents that help individuals understand how to use a particular system or process. To do so effectively a freelance technical writer often needs to:

  1. Carry out an audience analysis

    This is the first step a technical writer takes before they write down anything. The review is usually aimed at determining what the end readers want to know about the subject matter. It also helps the writer identify any special audience needs and requirements. This step is often critical in freelance technical writing. It helps the writer determine which tone to use and what steps to follow to do the project they are about to take on a success.

  2. Carry Out a Review of Product Samples

    With what the audience wants in mind, the writer then works towards understanding what the product is all about and how it’ll affect the users. To do this effectively, the writer indulges in comprehensive topic research using the internet. If possible, they’ll also talk to the product designer and developer to better understand the inner working of the product or service.

  3. Get Down to Work

    Once they’ve collected a substantial amount of the product/service and know what the audience is all about, the next step is usually to organize and write the manual, journal, or article. A technical writer is often expected to use every resource at their disposal to make the end-document easy to understand. These includes photos, charts, animation, or sketches.

  4. Select Medium of Distribution

    Once everything is ready, the technical writer then selects the most suitable medium for the document to be distributed to the audience. This could be through ordinary print or online videos

  5. Gather and Review User Feedback

    With the documentation in the hands of the reader, the technical writer is expected to gather feedback about its usability. This could be from the customers, the manufacturers, the designers, or even in some cases, the technicians themselves.

  6. Make a Decision

    Depending on the feedback, the freelance technical writer then has to decide whether the document needs revising, archiving, or destruction. For instance, if the document received warm feedback, they may not need to review it. However, if most users complained, then they may have to destroy it and start from scratch all over again.

Becoming a Technical Writer; Technical Writer Certification

Based on the above job description, it’s easy to see that one needs skills that go beyond writing. One needs a strong technical writer resume to meet the cut in this industry. That said, an entry-level technical writer must have at least a college degree. Being experienced in at least one technical field, for instance, computer science or engineering further boosts one’s chances of landing an excellent job.

However, the higher one’s education is and the more closely related it is to writing, the better the chances of landing a job with an impressive technical writer salary. This is because most employers often prefer and prioritize candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, and journalism.

Technical Writer Salary

Technical writing is a whole industry on its own. According to statistics, the demand for skilled technical writers is expected to increase by 11% by the year 2026. Thus there’s an increasing demand for technical writers. Therefore, the more you have to bring to the table, the better your pay.

That said, the average entry-level technical writer’s salary was %50, 647 in July 2018. On the other hand, a skilled remote technical writer takes home at least $70,930 every year. Therefore, the stronger your resume, the better the pay. According to Payscale, a professional and more experienced writer takes over $115, 000 home every year.

IT, medicine, insurance, engineering, and aerospace are some of the industries with the highest demand for technical writers.

Job Hunting: Where to Find Technical Jobs

If you just graduated and thinking of becoming a professional freelance technical writer, you can start by searching “remote technical writer jobs near me “on Google. Also, sites like Indeed.com or Glassdoor always have something for job hunters. Also, ask friends and family as they may know someone who needs a freelance technical writer. If on the other hand you decide to become a freelance writer under someone’s roof, you could also follow the same advice.

Technical Writer Interview Questions

Whether you decide to work as a remote technical writer or an in-house writer, keep in mind that you must first pass an interview to proceed to the next stage. That said, here is a list of common technical writer interview questions you should brace yourself for

  1. What do you know about the professional roles of a technical writer, and what tools are you expected to use on an everyday basis?
  2. How are the programs, MS Word, and Framemaker different?
  3. What would you say are some of your best qualities as a technical writer?
  4. Have you ever worked on a technical writing team, and do you prefer group or solo working?
  5. Explain the differences between a white paper and a blog
  6. How do you perform under pressure?
  7. Outline the difference between the structured and unstructured FrameMaker
    Define your tone or style of writing

If done with the right intentions, a technical writing career can be as fulfilling as any other career. So if you’ve always had a thing for it, feel free to pursue your dream and stay tuned for more tips.

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