Technical Writer Career Path

Posted in TechComm on 8/24/20173 min read

Technical Writer

Some writers dream of creating the next Harry Potter or Catcher in the Rye. Some hope that their plays will be turned into the next Pulp Fiction. And, others find joy in explaining how things work and helping others to perform certain tasks and hope that one day they will create software documentation for a big Fortune 500 company.

If that sounds like you, then you’re probably interested in a career as a technical writer.

However, making it in this overly competitive industry requires a particular set of skills and the desire to continuously learn.

Here’s what you need to know to become a technical writer.

Education and Background

Technical writers don’t necessarily come from the same background, but range from English, journalism, and technical communication to science or engineering. Of course, people with a technical background will have an easier time understanding the topics they have to work with, but you can always take a few courses to enhance your knowledge.

Education

You can take a technical writing course in colleges and develop the skills you need to write software documentation. Consider also web design and programming for a crash course on how software is created and works.

And, of course, there are tricks and hacks that no college can teach. You get to discover those with gaining some tech writing experience. We did a blog post on one trick that can be helpful for a tech writer of any professional level - improve techical writing with the 20/80 Rule.

Career Opportunities

Before deciding on a specific path, explore the possibilities this industry offers. Learning different software and approaches will help you become more versatile and experiment with different situations. Then, you can specialize in one particular area of technical writing – medical writing, software documentation, content management, policies, finance, proposal writing, and more.

Opportunities

A typical documentation team will consist of authors, editors, a manager, and others that need to work together to deliver professional content and create a knowledge base.

Advancement Opportunities

Contrary to popular belief, technical writers don’t just write user guides or manuals, but also contribute to the lifecycle of the product.

Contributing

So in case you’re wondering about growth opportunities, you will find plenty in this industry. Depending on the company you will be working for, you could juggle between titles like “documentation specialist” and “information developer” or other technical and managerial tasks. Later on, you could head towards various positions such as “information architect,” “publication manager,” “technical editor” and so on. You also have a lot of areas to decide between, such as content strategies, authoring tools, style guides, or review and publish processes.

Whatever you decide, technical writing is a vast niche that offers many career advancement possibilities. If you remain in this technical communication area, you can always climb up the ladder of management. For those that are considering switching, business analysis is a very good and quite natural transition. Or, you could just as easily find yourself working in usability and user experience, creative writing, content strategy, content curation, and even product design.

The technical writing niche has broadened greatly, offering a lot of jobs and opportunities. Forget about the general opinion that you will just sit at the computer by yourself – the profession is much more collaborative and interesting than that.

Good Luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Online Technical Writing & Documentation Tools

 

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