Technical writing is any writing about technical information. May include, but is not limited to, the preparation of technical manuals and technology manuals. Technical writers must have good writing skills, because they have to convey complex information.
Professionals ranging from doctors and engineers to chemists find it necessary to convey complex problems to regular consumers or less experienced professionals. This act of making complex material in the form of reports, product descriptions, or instruction manuals more understandable is known as technical writing. Learning more about this communication style can help you pursue a career that suits your interests and develop the right skills.
In this article, we explain what technical writing is, provide examples, and share the steps to pursue a career in this field.
What is technical writing?
Technical writing is a form of communication used by professionals to convey information on specialized topics. A technical writer might produce written material with instructions or technical explanations of medical treatments, computer programs, or environmental laws.
Some of the more common industries that rely on technical writing include:
Computer hardware and software
medical and health
Examples of technical writing.
Some prominent examples of technical writing:
When writing for a particular industry, a technical writer may use terminology that is appropriate to the academic background of their target audience. However, sometimes a technical writer writes for a general audience. Many of the details provided by technical writers are complex, so the writing process involves parsing the information and presenting it in a way that’s easy for anyone reading it to understand, even someone who doesn’t have a lot of subject matter experience.
How to become a technical writer
Here’s how to become a technical writer:
1. Pursue education
Most technical writing jobs require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Students interested in this sector can choose to enroll in writing and communication courses in addition to technical courses in science, engineering, and medicine. When applying for jobs, technical writers often need to submit writing samples to demonstrate their proficiency in this style of writing and their knowledge of certain topics. It is useful to have a portfolio of samples, especially for those who want to work as freelance technical writers.
2. Develop relevant skills
In addition to earning a degree, you must develop the skills necessary to be a successful technical writer. These include industry knowledge, communication, writing, and other technical knowledge. Technical writers must have strong communication and writing skills.
If you have good computer skills, you can design and edit diagrams, graphs, and documents using a variety of software programs. A technical writer also has strong proofing and editing skills to be able to deliver documents without grammatical and style-related errors. In addition, technical writers use tables, diagrams, graphs, photos, illustrations, and drawings more clearly and effectively.
3. Learn style guides
It’s also helpful to be proficient in all the major style guides, including the MLA Manual, Chicago Manual of Style, Associated Press Book of Style, APA Style, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Style. The most popular whitepaper style, particularly in the engineering industry, is IEEE, while other companies and customers may have different specifications. Consider concentrating entirely on that style guide and the particular requirements of the organization if you work in a specialized area.
4. Get certified
Technical writers may also go through a process to become certified. The three main certification options are:
Society of Technical Communicators
The Society of Technical Communicators offers a three-tier certification program. The levels are Foundation, Practitioner and Expert. Each level has a more demanding and challenging exam than the previous one. You may have an advantage over other technical writers who have not gone through the certification process if you are certified by this society.
American Association of Medical Writers
If you want to work as a technical writer in the medical industry, you probably need to learn how to write about unique tools and procedures used in the industry. As a result, if you decide to pursue this vocation, certification from the American Association of Medical Writers is a smart choice. To become certified, you must have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of experience in medical communications. To keep your certification current after you earn it, you must enroll in continuing education classes throughout your career.
National Association of Science Authors
In the sciences, there is a particularly strong need for technical writers. You can show that you are knowledgeable about scientific topics and have excellent writing skills by earning a certification from the National Association of Science Writers.
5. Determine where you want to work
A technical writer may be self-employed or contract, or can often find full-time positions with software or hardware companies, engineering companies, construction companies, chemical processing companies, defense companies, and other related businesses. Understanding the field and what it requires is an important first step in making sure it is what you want to pursue in your career. Talk to technical writers to get an idea of what your daily job tasks include, or review technical documents, including customer support content and career guides.
6. Develop a portfolio
When applying for a technical writing job, it’s important to demonstrate your skills. If you’re an entry-level writer, you can work on white papers on your own to build a portfolio. While you are earning your bachelor’s degree, you can also look into internships and freelance writing opportunities to gain more experience.
7. Build your network
Start by looking at your existing network of professional contacts to determine if you know anyone in technical writing. Connecting with others can help you find job opportunities and be a part of groups that focus on the field of technical writing. You may also want to attend related conferences and events in your area to further develop your network.