Are you interested in becoming a technical writer?
Technical writing is an expanding field that offers so many opportunities. If you are interested in starting a career as a tech writer, then you should read on because this article will look into how you can get started.The article will also delve into the salary and the compensation that you can expect. That way, you can decide if going into tech writing is going to be worth the time and trouble.
What Is Tech Writing?
The old definition of technical writing is that it is the process of writing of manuals with technical details in it. The writing of manuals for software for example can be classified as a form of tech writing.
That is the old definition of technical writing since it has expanded now. These days, any form of writing that requires some technical knowledge can be classified as technical writing. So any documentation that involves technical knowledge is technical writing and all kinds of industries may require it now.
Any kind of format that requires technical knowledge can fall under tech writing today. To make it simple, if you are working in a technical field, you are doing technical writing to some degree.
Now, you might be wondering if technical writing and business writing are the same. The simple answer is no. Those two are not the same. Technical writing is a kind of business writing but not all business writing is technical writing. Copywriting, for example, is a kind of business writing but it’s not technical writing.
What’s the Job of a Technical Writer
As you should have realized by now, technical writing is a very broad category. There is no single task that a technical writer will have to perform. It may vary from one industry to another. In fact, it may even vary depending on the company.
A technical writer’s job will go beyond writing. On top of technical writing skills that will be needed to perform the job properly, a technical writer must also have in-depth knowledge of the technical details that he is supposed to write about.
How to Become a Technical Writer with a Competitive Salary
So how does one become a technical writer?
There is no specific career path to be followed. There are Associate’s Degrees and Bachelor’s Degrees being offered now for technical writing but those are not the only ways that you can have a career in this line. Keep in mind that to become a tech writer, you would need detailed technical knowledge of the field you are writing about, that is on top of the necessary writing skills and mastery of the language.
While tech writing degrees may teach you about the format and the necessary writing skills, that will not teach you about the tech details of the industry and company that you will be writing for. For example, if you will be writing for a petrochemical company, there are a lot of scientific and technical knowledge that you will need to perform the role of technical writing. You cannot get all of the knowledge you need by getting an Associate’s Degree in technical writing.
Many technical writers start by getting degrees in English, journalism, and communications. Those are the degrees where writing is emphasized, so their graduates can transition easily to writing some of the documents needed for various industries.
Still, for the industries and businesses that require some really heavy technical knowledge, the technical writers start by being within the industry first. Technicians, nurses, and other industry specialists for example can start writing the necessary documents needed.
Again, there is no specific path that can be followed by a person to go into technical writing. But if you are interested in becoming one, then you should try getting a technical writing degree or one of the other degrees that we have mentioned. Not to mention the plethora of online courses that can be a good starting point.
Technical Writing Skills
Technical writing salary depends on skills. To be a good tech writer, here are some of the skills that you need to have:
You really must be good when it comes to research when you are doing technical writing. Unlike creative writing which relies on your mastery of language and your imagination, technical writing requires extensive research, especially in the case of some documents.
Sometimes, the document that you are required to write will require the use or even the interpretation of data. For that, you really have to do your research homework.
Ability to Craft Audience Perception
There was a time when the documents written by technical writers were mostly for internal consumption. The people who read those documents were mostly insiders who are part of the company or the industry. There little or no need to shape their perception.
Things have changed now. Technical writers now sometimes communicate to an outside audience and for that audience perception must be shaped. That means tight control of the language and precise use of information.
To convey the difficult technical data and to craft audience perception effectively, a technical writer must have excellent communication skills. That means mastery of the language and the ability to write clear and concise sentences.
Writing skills would fall under this category. It goes without saying that a writer should be able to write without any grammatical or spelling errors. Errors like that on technical documents can affect the credibility of the company.
Technical documents follow a specific format and design. A technical writer must know and follow those design requirements. He must be an authority when it comes to formatting a document that is needed for publishing.
A technical writer is also expected to have mastery of the digital tools that he is expected to use. Those are the tools that will be needed for formatting the papers that he will be writing. It’s a very important and useful skill to have.
Technical Writing Salary
Now, one of the main things to consider before you venture into a technical writing career is whether the technical writer salary is going to be enough for your needs. The good news is that median pay for a technical writer in 2019 was $72,850 per year or $35.03 per hour. That’s actually very good.
The job outlook for technical writers is very good. All industries and large companies require the help of technical writers to craft their technical communications and for drafting their documents. At the end of the day, there will always be a demand for technical writers to work in companies.
Most companies would require a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field for you to be hired or several years of related experience. So, any opportunity for you to start technical writing, even in an unofficial capacity, you should take advantage of that.
So, is becoming a tech writer a career path that you should opt for? All indicators point to a very positive light. It is predicted that the technical writing field set to increase by 8% up until the year 2028. Of course, the pandemic has disrupted so many industries, but once everything is back to normal, the demand for technical writers will surge again.
This job is not for everyone. If you have a talent for writing and you have a knack for research, then it is a promising career where you can enjoy high technical writing salary.