How to Start a Career in Technical Writing

Ivan Walsh gives some advise on how start a career in tech writing over on his site. “Technical writing has proven to be a very lucrative field in the last ten years with many contractors earning well over 100k per year. As discipline continues to gain recognition, there are increasing opportunities for motivated individuals to make the switch to this field and reap the rewards. In the article, I will provide some background on what is technical writing and how you can start a career in this field.

What do Technical Writers actually write?

Most Technical Writers work in the IT industry. The create user guide, instruction manuals, reference material, maintenance guides, technical articles, knowledge base material, proposals, training materials, reports, brochures, online documentation, help systems, Web pages, multimedia presentations, work instructions, and materials that feeds into the sales and marketing cycle, for example, white papers and case studies.

So, the scope of what tech writers write can be quite extensive. As you can see, it is not just user guide but all types of written material that must be expressed by someone with the relevant technical knowledge.

What type of tasks does a Technical Writer perform?

The range of writing tasks may include some of the following:

  • Analyzing the needs of the target audience
  • Interviewing subject matter experts to understand the product
  • Index and cross-reference documents user manuals
  • Creating illustrations, charts, and tables to be used in publications
  • Editing, standardizing, or revising material prepared by other individuals, for example, programmers.
  • Gathering and preparing the layout of material for publication.
  • Preparing draft publications for reviews with project staff and/or customers.
  • Create and edit online documentation and web content.
  • Format technical documents to align with industry standards
  • Work with engineers to evaluate and summarize test processes
  • Edit technical documents for accuracy, clarity, and organization
  • Organize hardcopy documents into formats
  • Create formats, tables, templates, etc.

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