A technical writer is a type of writer who simplifies technical manuals. In the U.S, tech writers, content designers, and information developers are the alternative names of a technical writer.
We can find tech writers doing their jobs in many NGOs, corporations, and businesses. The U.S Department of Labor predicts the number of jobs will grow 11% from 2016-2026. Such numbers are slightly faster than the average numbers of any other jobs.
This makes a tech writer one of the job seekers' dream jobs. Yet, there are things that you should pay attention to when you want to be a technical writer. In this article, we're going to show you these things.
What is Technical Writer?
Technical writers are professionals who write in technical areas such as engineering, medicine, technology and the sciences. They help to communicate with the target audience the complex technicalities through easy to understand documents. The documentation can be informed of instruction manuals, guides and white paper. They may also create content for platforms in social media posts, press releases, and web pages.
Technical Writer Jobs?
A technical writer is a promising professional career, finding its demand in industries in science, medicine, engineering, manufacturing and software industries. Technical writers improve business performance by helping people to understand technology products easily thereby providing decision-makers with valuable reports.
Becoming a Technical Writer:
Here will look at factors to become a successful technical writer:
- The Skills You Need
- The "Props" You Would Work With
- The Things You Need To Execute
Technical subject skills:
As a technical writer, you need to be subject matter experts, in technical fields including engineering, technology, science, medicine. The technical experts need to break down the complex information into simple language for the readers.
Technical writers are in writing jobs. So, you need to have command over language, know grammar, and put your thoughts in writing. You should also know to deliver according to the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Stylebook) and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) guides. These two style guides are the most popular in the U.S.
You need to master basic writing and grammar skills and master designing skills for creating more engaging pieces. Good content can make communication easy while images will make more impact and people tend to retain images, charts for a longer duration. Technical writers can always team with graphic designers, illustrators, editors to produce good deliverables.
If you work with online materials, it's important to know "technology" skills, too. These skills include video editing, HTML, and usability testing. If you have programming and computer scripting skills, those would be great additions. Tech writers also create content for platforms such as web pages, social media sites etc. Now with rising of online education many technical writers working with online materials as in e-learning platforms.
The "Props" You Would Work With
The "props" means the materials you're going to work with and the tools like software, etc that you're going to use. Essentially, you can't use the "props" without having the skills. Conversely, you also can't use your skills if you don't have the "props" with you.
Technical writers for e-learning platforms are getting more popular these days. Even so, e-learning platforms aren't the only materials you're going to work with. Depending on your projects' scopes, you're also going to work with online help pages, software test plans, APIs, and more.
You may need more of these materials if you work in specific types of industries. Examples of such industries are e-commerce, medical, or manufacturing industries. Other industries may not require many materials, especially if they're less than three years old startups. You're going to use the materials as your references, your main work platforms, or both. Either way, you're going to use them at least 80% of your working time. The remaining 20% will go to other tools for technical writers.
Those other tools include writing and communication software. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint and the built-in Content Management Systems (CMS) are examples of the writing software. These help you as a technical writer to process the words in your materials.
Skype, Zoom, and Slack are three of the most popular communication software. You're going to use these to communicate with the project manager, fellow writers, or other team members.
The Things You Need To Execute
So, now you have the skills and the "props" you need as a technical writer. Yet, you can't leave them out without executing the important things to be a well-performed tech writer. The four aspects of the things you need to execute:
- Contexts and
- Document designs
The first thing you should remember is that you don't write the technical manuals for yourself. Instead, you're writing those for your audiences. So, profiling your audiences and analyzing their profiles should be the first steps you need to execute.
The demographic characteristics, the audience's roles, how will they feel, and more, are the things you should consider. When you can answer these concerns, you can get a guideline on how to work. This includes how you'll shape your document's contents, designs, and finally, present them to your audiences.
The second step you should execute in being a technical writer is all about the purpose. Some of the most common purposes are to persuade and to inform audiences. Yet, in this step, you don't stop in determining the purposes of your technical content.
Instead, you should also analyze the purposes of your content. Doing this will let you choose the right materials and communication means for your technical writing projects. You will also know to format in ways that are suitable for what your audiences want to hear.
The third step that you should execute is all about the physical and temporary contexts. These are the environments where you can put your content on. For example, if your content is a guide for gaming consoles, you need to place them as the consoles' stickers.
The fourth step, and the most crucial one, is the document design step. In executing this step, you use visual elements to enhance the readability and usability of your content.
Technical writers play a major role in business growth. They help customers as well as client for preparing an understandable document and powerful business communication. So, we have discussed here all the skills, "props", and things you need to execute to be a technical writer. By now, you'll feel more confident in being a technical writer.