How To Become A Technical Writer and Make Money

Technical writing isn’t just about drawing up instructions, manuals, or legal documents; it transcends that.

Technical writing takes high-level information and processes it into digestible content for a specific audience.┬áIt’s crucial for anyone working in a tech-related business, and if you want to know how to become a technical writer, you’re at the right place.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for technical writers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024. Employment growth in this field will exceed the national average for other occupations due to the continued increase in scientific and technical products.

Therefore, in this article, we will outline and define the technical writing processes. Additionally, we will also look at the best practices and steps you can follow to launch your career as a technical writer.

Meanwhile, let’s understand what it means to be a technical writer.

What Is Technical Writing?

As defined by the Society of Technical Communication; technical writing is any form of communication that shows one or more of the following qualities:

  • Communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations.
  • Communicating by using technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites.
  • Providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of how technical the task is or even if technology is used to create or distribute that communication.

Technical writing is expected to cover any type of text that aims to explain detailed information. Such information must also be presented by the technical writer in a manner that the reader can easily interpret and use the information for an intended purpose.

Check Out: How To Land Premium Writing Gigs Even As A Novice

What does a technical writer do?

Technical writers commonly perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Brainstorming, outlining, and producing professional documentation free of errors for a range of users and knowledge levels
  • Communicating technical concepts, including computer applications, medical procedures, environmental and economic regulations, and manufacturing and engineering processes
  • Applying research and evaluation to create documents that clearly communicate complex information
  • Analyzing target audiences to define project requirements and planning a content presentation, design, and tone
  • Designing documents using charts, images, infographics, headings, and lists to increase readability

Skills a Technical Writer Needs?

  • Writing
  • Technical knowledge
  • Research
  • Communication
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Audience knowledge
  • Empathy
  • Planning

Prerequisites to Become a Technical Writer

Technical writers are specialists in their areas whose writing is focused on certain topics.

To put it simply, content development experts with a focus on simplifying tough knowledge into easily comprehensible text are known as technical writers.

A technical writer’s job description may include “technical content development,” but they can also be resident engineers, scientists, or technicians, depending on the company. Writing content is just one aspect of the job; there is much more to it.

The job description itself will vary from employer to employer, just like any other. Regardless of their area, experience, or sector, technical writers are expected to do the following key tasks:

1. Carry Out Detailed Research

Undertaking setailed research is a technical writer’s main duty.

Good technical writing is defined by a strong basis. Even if a tech writer is an expert in their field, they sometimes need to compile material from multiple sources to guarantee that the content they post is 100% correct and current.

After all, the company’s financial line may be directly impacted by the material they provide. A technical error in a machine’s preventive maintenance checklist, for example, can interfere with regular operations, cause delays, and even endanger the personnel’s safety.

That only scratches the surface of the job’s effects. Organizations therefore want technical writers with strong research skills.

2. Create personas

A good technical content foundation consists of more than merely obtaining and verifying a lot of data. The other is having a thorough comprehension of the target group.

Because of this, creating and maintaining audience personas is one of a technical writer’s main duties in the majority of companies.

This aids the writer in choosing the right language, tone, and amount of detail when creating the content.

Technical writers do not, of course, create or manage personas daily, but it is an important aspect of their work.

3. Carry out editing tasks

The majority of an expert writer’s time is spent on editing.

To finish the content, this entails organizing calendars, writing drafts, and going through several rounds of editing.

4. Work along with your teammates

A technical writer’s duties include creating personas, gathering information, handling all editorial tasks, and regularly working with other team members.

The kind of technical material that the company is making will determine this communication level.

In any case, the following is a list of the people with whom a technical writer might have to collaborate in an organization:

  • Designers: A large portion of technical content is design. Document layout, graphics, charts, and other parts can finish a document. To guarantee that everything fits flawlessly, writers and designers must work closely.
  • Web developers: The writers and developers must work together if the technical material is meant to be published as a landing page.
  • Technical Managers: They work with concept-aware technical managers, engineers, and experts.

Being proactive is important for a great technical writer to guarantee timely and constant communication with the relevant parties.

Check out our Technical Writing Certification Course to find out more about how to become a skilled technical writer.

5. Obtain Input for Better Work

The work of a professional writer is never truly done.

They must evaluate the technological content’s performance even after it has been made and published.

To do this, you must get feedback from the target audience. Feedback gathering is simple for an internal audience, like a group of engineers or techs. All you have to do is ask them if the goal or goals were achieved.

However, if the content is meant for an external audience, such as a panel of investors, gathering feedback isn’t always simple. It’s tough to clearly link the writing to the success of the project or product unless you ask the readers for their opinions.

In any event, a skilled technical writer must devise a method for gathering, evaluating, and applying this feedback to their work.

How To Become a Technical Writer

There are a few steps to becoming a technical writer, these steps you must take to develop your skills in written communication, design and formatting, research, and analysis.

They are as follows:

#1. Get a bachelor’s degree

While you can kick-start your technical writing career without a degree, gaining one makes you more exposed to opportunities. Additionally, a degree in fields like technical communications, scientific writing, or journalism can improve your job prospects.

#2. Get certified as a technical writer

This is still optional. However, you can enhance your career with a credential from the Society for Technical Communication (STC). The STC offers a three-tiered certification program. And it consists of foundation, practitioner, and expert certification levels.

There are other associations that offer training for technical writers in a particular niche. Identify such organizations if they fit into your niche. Get trained to write better.

AMWA is an example of such an organization.

#3. Create a portfolio of samples

A portfolio is a way to put your best work in a single file or document for easy access. The projects you’ve done before should be the content of this portfolio.

If you’re just starting out, do not shy away from carrying out small projects, as they will form your portfolio.

Your portfolio can be used as a resource when you apply for jobs. It can also be used to show employers evidence of your writing experience and written communication skills.

#4. Build your professional network

This can be done by joining relevant professional organizations and attending seminars and conferences. Also, go to events where IT, scientific, and medical practitioners may gather. It’s also a good way to build your network.

It is in building your network that you will be exposed to more technical writer jobs. Opportunities to practice your skills and boost your reputation as a qualified, tested, and trusted technical writer.

#5. Develop your industry Knowledge

Stay up-to-date on your industry’s trends and new developments to support your knowledge of the field. Staying current on new technology and software, medical advances, or the latest scientific research is important for planning and writing your project materials.

If you choose to join a professional association, use the resources the network offers to remain informed of the latest news for whichever field you specialize in.

You can also subscribe to relevant newsletters for new developments and information. By staying informed, you’ll know the latest technical writer jobs available.

Tips for becoming a technical writer

You must consider these points as you intend to start a career as a technical writer or land technical writer jobs.

  • Be proactive about your skill development.
  • Focus your development in one niche.
  • Learn and develop web design skills.
  • Create online courses for tech writers.
  • Familiarize yourself with coding.

Technical Writing Tips to Get You Started

When you’ve finished the initial draft of your next post, keep the following in mind:

  • Observe a style manual when writing. It assists you in staying on course and adhering to the best writing practices.
  • Keep your lines brief and focused on a single idea. Avoid fitting everything into a single line.
  • Keep your phrases concise, clear, and accurate, since the purest form of sophistication is simplicity.
  • After writing your first draft, pretend to be the reader and read your content aloud. This might help you identify phrases that can be rephrased.
  • Only edit your initial writing while you’re concentrated.
  • Since no technical writer is an authority on every topic, get feedback by speaking with professionals in the field you are writing about.

FAQs on How To Become A Technical Writer and Make Money

What skills are required for a technical writer?

Technical knowledge
Editing and proofreading
Audience knowledge

Is technical writing well paid?

Nowadays, the bulk of Technical Document Writer salaries in the US fall somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000.

Is it hard to become a technical writer?

No, it isn’t. However, it is hard if you do not have a certification.

What are examples of a technical writer?

User Manuals
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
Case Studies & White Papers
API Documentation
Press Releases
Company Documents
Annual Reports
Business Plans

Final Thought

Technical writing is burgeoning, and while it’s not as easy as it might seem to become a technical writer, the remuneration makes up for it. I hope this piece was of help to you.

Good luck.