Technical writers explain valuable technical knowledge to audiences. They may help write how-to books, define instructional pamphlets, or create content for companies online. Their importance has grown in the last 40 years commensurate with the rise of public-facing technology companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Salesforce, and many more. If you want a job as a technical writer, which is growing in demand and salary, we recommend you check out our guide below about how to build the best resume.Let’s start by studying the following three resume formats:
See What People are Saying About Us
Job Duties of Technical Writers
Technical writers are responsible for a very important part of their company’s efforts. No matter what their company produces, whether it’s an electric toothbrush, a software system for designing houses, or a wooden stand-up desk, technical instructions are critical to understanding, learning from, and using these products. That’s why technical writers need to have both expert knowledge or know-how to know, about their company’s subject matter, in addition to having excellent writing skills. What are some of the other skills they need? Check them out below.
Planning, developing, drafting, and writing documents depending on project requirements.
Working closely and in coordination with other internal or external departments. Preparing high-quality technical documents suitable for their intended audience often requires compliance with legal and technical guidelines about what you can and cannot say and then explain why you can and cannot say those things.
Editing material prepared by other writers.
Communicating with clients and subject matter experts. Remember, you will often not know how a particular product or service is built, so you need to ask very specific, clearly defined questions that help you answer questions regular people will have. And many times, the expert will even need help to verbalize their process.
Preparing a wide range of technical public-facing documents like white-papers, business plans, product descriptions, research papers, company press reports and user manuals.
Median Salaries of Technical Writers
According to a survey published by the U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics, a technical writer’s average income in the U.S. is $72,850 per year, making their hourly wage around $35.03 per hour.
Top Skills for Technical Writers
Technical writing seems simple and straightforward: You ask some people questions about how something works, write them down, and then put it together legibly. But it’s actually a bit more complicated and exciting than that. It is, in fact, a skilled fusion of various abilities. This profession requires proficient knowledge of the field you work in and many other skills that will make your clients return to your business again and again.
Here are the top skills our certified resume writers know will help you in your profession and your resume:
- Writing proficiency: Technical writers are the communication link between subject matter experts and the general audience. An expert writer can easily explain a complicated technical topic in easy-to-read-and-understand language. That’s why many technical writers started as excellent writers who then spent years learning about technical matters to be able to describe the sometimes-dense technical concepts in detail confidently.
- Relevant technical expertise: As a technical writer, it’s easier to move between sections inside an industry than between industries themselves. For example, if you want to work for hardware technology companies like IBM, you are more likely to build an avenue of consistent work by starting in smaller hardware companies. You can move to other hardware makers like those selling microchips or work with robots since you work in the hardware. You could also write for a software company, like Facebook, but it won’t be easy. If you wanted to move outside of tech to apparel like Nike or the beverage industry, it would be even harder still to that relevant knowledge.
- Research skill: Whether you work independently or as part of a team, a technical writer should source all research independently and efficiently. And how do you discern which analysis is accurate and which is not? That requires even more research and learning.
- Clear communication: The technical writer serves target audiences, so any writing needs to be coherent for expert and non-expert readers alike. Therefore, excellent and clear communication skills are required, which are also beneficial during routine meetings, presentations, and discussions with clients and subject matter experts.
- Creative insight: It is a general perception that any job involved in “technical” matters cannot use one’s creativity. But that’s not true! If you don’t know the special sauce about how to prepare interesting, fun, even wittily compelling content, then you won’t be able to receive your reader’s attention, and your bosses won’t be happy. Having a job as essentially a translator of technical language doesn’t mean it has to be boring.
Educational Requirements for Technical Writers
There is no specific degree needed for technical writing. If you think your writing is compelling and understand technical concepts better than others, you can be a technical writer. But a degree or certification in the subject you write about is often appropriate for the job.
A degreeA degree from a recognized college or university affirms your knowledge of the specific subject matter. For example, suppose you have taken science courses in college. In that case, you might have a better opportunity to work as a technical writer for a science company such as San Francisco’s Genentech. According to Forbes Magazine, employers prefer a technical writer with a specific, valid degree over a non-degree writer.Other specific domains of technical writing, like medical writing, require expert knowledge of the particular field. Therefore, their demand is huge in the market.
A certificateThe right certification can enhance your technical writing career. There are various online and offline certification courses specific to technical writing, including for-profit educational companies Udemy, Coursera, Communicaid, TechnicalWriterHQ, and Emphasis. Individual universities and colleges worldwide also offer specific certifications for low-cost, one-time general technical writing courses, like Oregon State University’s Technical Writing Course and California State University’s Technical Writing Certificate. We recommend you look up your local educational institution to find if they offer one. Like the University of Wisconsin, some colleges even provide niche classes for professionals that want to become better technical writers, such as industrial engineers who have to write project management papers and work statements.Several associations also offer certificates. The Society for Technical Communication (STC) has a certification for technical writers, editors, and managers of technical writers administered based on your level of experience: “foundation,” for beginners, “practitioners,” for those with some experience writing about technical subjects, and “experts,” focusing on one-on-one interviews and tests of technical tools. The American Medical Writer’s Association offers a test-based certification program, managed with the Medical Writing Certification Commission (MWCC), for people who have worked at least two years in the technical, medical writing field and have a bachelor in any degree. With the growth of technical writing jobs in different industries,
Technical Writer Resume-Writing Tips
Like any other job profile, technical writing also has specific skill and experience requirements. Here are some tips to increase the visibility of your resume to employers and clients.
- Prove your ability through past projects: Writing is an experience-oriented job. Employers or clients look for a candidate with practical experience. Therefore, adding the most valuable experience working with technical literature benefits your resume. If you are an experienced technical writer, write all of your top tasks in specific detail. If you are a recent graduate without much experience, focus on your skills, such as knowing about the editing process between different departments.
- Define your most up-to-date technical knowledge: You need to continually learn about how things work and why to thrive as a technical writer. You can show off your technical knowledge gained through certifications, specific training, and any hobbies that deal directly with the technical world you want to work in.
- Mention specific accomplishments: Share clear glimpses of your past working on complex technical writing tasks and use as much data as you can. Were you part of an engineering team that had to write a complete manual in four weeks? Is your pamphlet for how to use a new Dell monitor still used five years later? Did your work help the company sell millions of units of a product? Find an actual quantifiable number and use that in your resume.
Who is a technical writer?
A writer who can translate engineering, medical, or other technical matter or knowledge into simple and effective language is known as a technical writer.
Is a technical writer career offers you job satisfaction?
A technical writer’s job will always be needed, no matter how much automation enters the business world. From composing a sophisticated white paper to writing a product description, there is still a need for intelligent human beings to translate complicated instructions or technical engineering language into copy that everyone can understand. So there will always be jobs for them. Moreover, content writers have the freedom to work either in an organization or as a freelancer.
What skills do I need to become a technical writer?
Technical knowledge of the respective domain and good writing skills are necessary to begin your career as a technical writer.