Are you good at explaining things in ways other people can understand easily? If so, a technical writing career could be an interesting choice.
Here, we take a look at what technical writers do and what it takes to succeed in this writing career.
What Is Technical Writing?
In a nutshell, the job description for technical writers involves taking complex information and turning it into plain language that nonexperts can comprehend. They try to “think like their audience” and present what needs conveying in understandable ways. Organized, concise, jargon-free language certainly leads to that goal. Technical writers may also add visuals such as illustrations, photos, and graphs to support efforts.
You’ve probably encountered technical writing many times without even realizing it. Common examples of technical writing include website help pages and FAQs, instruction manuals and assembly guides for products, and inserts accompanying prescriptions and medical devices to ensure proper usage and care.
Businesses depend on technical writing for internal operations, too. For instance, coming up with a list of commonly used terms and definitions promotes understanding between departments. Or perhaps a company has a standard procedure it wants all of its salespeople to follow when calling on new clients; a technical writer can outline and explain the steps in a convenient reference manual.
Technical Writing Skills
Obviously, to be successful in a technical writing career you must be an outstanding wordsmith. But you’ll also need other skills, such as:
- Strong organizational skills and good attention to detail can maximize the effectiveness of their writing.
- Excellence at reading and researching can aid with their own comprehension, which translates into better writing.
- Solid interpersonal skills are needed for consulting industry experts, product designers, and company coworkers to gain a greater understanding of a subject before writing. Listening carefully and asking pertinent questions ensures an accurate, comprehensive final product.
- The ability to put yourself into another’s shoes helps immensely in this profession. Sincere concern for how the target audience thinks and responds leads to clearer presentation of information.
Technical Writing Salary
A technical writing career is one of the best-paying writing-related occupations, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual technical writing salary as $71,850. Achieving certification through the Society for Technical Communication sometimes increases compensation and attractiveness to employers.
Educational Background for Technical Writers
Technical writers often hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field such as English or communications. Some colleges offer classes specifically in technical writing or as part of a major in professional/public writing.
Depending on the nature of what needs to be produced, employers may look for candidates with certain backgrounds. Writing about medical topics, for instance, benefits from previous experience in the healthcare industry. Likewise, solid understanding of technology proves beneficial when conversing with software engineers or trying to make computer jargon user-friendly for the average person.
Finding Employment as a Technical Writer
Projected job growth is a big benefit of a technical writing career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of technical writers to grow 11% between 2016-2026. Much of this need stems from technology expanding and changing, leading to demand for people who can explain new products or concepts.
Some companies hire technical writers as part of their regular staff. Other technical writers take on short-term projects for various employers as freelancers or as part of firms dedicated to providing such services.
No matter which setup you’re looking for, FlexJobs has a technical writing job category where you can find these roles with a variety of flexible work options, such as part-time schedules, remote work, freelance gigs, and flexible schedules. Using FlexJobs to find a flexible technical writing job will guarantee a job search experience that’s better, easier, faster, and safer.
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