Technical Writer Job Description
Technical writers write instruction manuals, assembly instructions, and other documents that convert complex information into a format that is easy for readers to understand and execute upon.
They normally work very closely with engineers, software developers, scientists, and other subject matter experts to understand how a product works so they can communicate it accurately and effectively in their final document.
Since every industry has its own unique methodology and vocabulary, many technical writers choose to specialize. For example, they may choose to spend their career focusing on mechanical assembly, computer software, medical materials, or one of many other fields.
In some cases, technical writers observe or conduct usability studies. Through usability studies, they are able to observe how users interact with a product. This can be extremely helpful, as the writers learn which actions users perform intuitively, and which ones need more in-depth explanation.
Common responsibilities for most technical writer jobs include:
- Selecting visual aides to illustrate materials.
- Interviewing production and engineering personnel.
- Reviewing manufacturer and trade catalogs
- Observing production, developmental, and experimental activities to determine operating procedure.
Work Environment and Schedule
The majority of technical writers work in offices, where they interact with engineers and other technology experts to understand the products and procedures that they need to document.
Some technical writers work on a freelance basis, but most are employed full time by the companies who need their services. Positions are available throughout the United States, but most are found in tech hubs like San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and New York City.
Working schedules for technical writers vary by position. Working overtime is common as a deadline approaches, but is normally less common during the research stages of a project. Freelancers who manage multiple projects at the same time may have to work consistent overtime.
How to Become a Technical Writer
Most employers require technical writers to have a bachelor’s degree. They normally prefer candidates with a degree in English, communications, or journalism, but there are technical writers from all sorts of academic backgrounds.
In addition to the academic requirements, technical writers are most employable when they have an understanding of a specialized technical field, such as medicine, computer science, or engineering. Developing a specialty can take years to develop, and entry-level technical writers are not normally expected to have one.
As more and more technical writing is published online, it’s becoming increasingly important for technical writers to have experience with basic web publishing systems.
There are currently 49,500 technical writers in the United States, with 1,830 new technical writer job openings created each year.
Technical Writer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Technical Writer Salaries
Technical Writer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most technical writers make between $48,900 – $82,500 per year, or $23.52 – $39.68 per hour.
Career as a Technical Writer – Description, Income, & Qualification
The electronic equipment or products we purchase usually contain a manual; we use it to understand how the product works or how to handle it properly. These manuals contain full technical detail related to the product. Technical writers write this stuff.
Technical writers not only produce hard copies of product manuals, they can also write online manuals and other product specification documents that manufacturers use during product development.
Technical writers also draw diagrams/illustrations to make a manual more user-friendly. Their goal is to understand the needs of users or consumers and then write product manuals that can enable them to use the product in an efficient manner. To do this, they first examine the given product and find all details about it. This process may require them to communicate directly with designers and engineers who built the product.
Sometimes, technical writers provide crucial insights about a product to its manufacturer that result in product improvement. Their suggestions can help improve the product to increase its efficiency or to make it safer for the users. If a product is efficient, it then usually requires fewer instructions in the manual.
Work Conditions and Timings
Technical writers usually work in their offices. They write the material needed for manuals and draw the required diagrams; they often use computer programs to do that. For some jobs, they visit factories or other locations to meet with engineers and other staff members.
This usually is a full-time job. Some technical writers work on project basis with different companies.
Just like most other professions, you need a bachelor’s degree to get a technical writing job. You can get this degree in English or any other related field. Other skills that might help you do this job better are proofreading, problem-solving, producing-error-free-writing, etc.
This can be a fun job if you are writing about subjects you find interesting.
There are currently 52,500+ technical writers working in USA. According to BLS job outlook forecast, the number of technical writing jobs is set to increase by a whopping 10% from 2014 to 2024. The demand for technical writers is increasing as more and more electronic equipment hit the market every day.
Technical writers are making an income between $40,500 and $113,430, annually. The median annual wage is around $69,850.