How to Become a Technical Writer
Technical Writer Job Duties
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Technical Writer
Technical Writer Salary
Influential Technical Writers
Leading Organizations for Technical Writers
Top Cities for Technical Writing Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
Employers look for two things when hiring a technical writer. They want writers with either a broad liberal arts background or a degree in communications, journalism, or English. If you are looking to write for a specific field like engineering, business, or science, additional education or knowledge in that field is a must.
Understanding web design, computer graphics, and other technology will give technical writers a leg up on the competition because they often use these resources in order to stay in touch with their sources, editors, and other writers while working on their assignments at home or out in the field.
Many technical writers begin their careers as scientists, technicians, or engineers letting their writing ability allow them to transfer into the technical writing field. Other writers start out being research assistants or trainees in a technical information department.
They are responsible for writing both operating and maintenance manuals, assembly instructions, catalogs and project proposals. Writers oversee and edit technical materials, illustrations, photographs, designs, and charts. Many write for online help menus and instructions for computer software. Some technical writers find work helping a team to conduct studies of an existing product to see how it can be improved.
Technical writers can also be found writing information for the internet. Electronic editions of newspapers, short fiction and poetry, and online technical information are some of the items that can be written. These writers have knowledge about web design, page layout, graphic design and multimedia software.
All technical writers conduct research on their topics. They get their information through personal observation and usage of a product, library and internet usage, and interviews with scientists and engineers who created the product or idea.
Some technical writers work full time, while others like bloggers or online chatters work part time and use their writing as a supplement to another job.
Technical writers must be able to work under pressure because they often have to finish projects quickly in order to meet a deadline or publication date. Knowing how to use electronic publishing programs, graphics, and video production materials is becoming more and more of a requirement, especially of you are looking to work for an online newspaper or magazine. Online publications expect their writers to know how to use computer software that combines online text with graphics, audio, video, and animation. Employers also want their writers to be familiar with wireless communication equipment so that they can always be in contact for emails with last minute reviews and edits.
Most employers want writers with some prior experience. Newspapers produced for a local community, college and school journals and local television and radio stations will give you a leg up on the competition.
Jim Seymour was the founding editor of PC Computing Magazine and had served in his post since 1988. While he recently passed away in 2002 his expertise and knowledge of his field lives on in his two books: Jim Seymour's PC Productivity Bible (1991) and Jim Seymour's On the Road (1992). He was a consultant to Dell Computer in Austin and graduated from the University of Texas.
Currently Houston, Pittsburgh, New York, San Diego, and Chicago employ the most technical writers, but work can be found throughout the U.S.
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