technical writing

5 step guide to become a technical writer

Nancy Jaiswal
Nancy Jaiswal
Posted on 10 Sep 2022
11:13 AM
Technical writers use their excellent writing and communication skills to create professional, error-free documentation

Technical writers use their excellent writing and communication skills to create professional, error-free documentation Source: Rawpixel

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Summary
Whether you have enrolled in a technical degree or a writing or communications degree, there are opportunities in technical writing that you can still explore
Nearly every industry today has a basic need for technical documentation and the demand for technical writers is growing like never before

What does a technical writer do?

Technical writers use their excellent writing and communication skills to create professional, error-free documentation. They conduct extensive research to write documents that convey information in clear and useful terms. This in turn helps readers understand complex topics appropriately.

Technical writers craft corporate documents, such as instruction manuals, intermediate and end user manuals, reference guides, how-to guides, white papers, and special product briefs. They are also highly valued and find place in the tech and IT industries as well. In fact, nearly every industry today has a basic need for technical documentation, making technical writers constantly in demand.

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5 step guide to become a technical writer

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's degree

At the bachelor’s level, there are two routes one can take.

  1. The first is to study a subject which lays emphasis on writing or communication. A degree that teaches writing, proofreading, and business writing will enhance your writing skills and also makes your CV stand out to a recruiter. It will demonstrate that you have a good hold on the language and communication is one of your skills.
  2. The second route is to study a science or a technical degree. While you will need to focus on the writing and communication skills later, this helps to build detailed subject matter knowledge - which again adds to your CV.

Step 2: Choose a niche

At the beginning of your bachelor’s you may not have decided to become a technical writer. However, once you start getting to know your subject, especially if you are in science or technology degrees, you have to then critically think about whether you want to pursue a career in hands-on work in your field, or you would like to utilise your subject matter expertise in helping others.

Once you make this crucial choice, then you must decide your niche and pay special attention to the area.

Technical writers craft corporate documents, such as instruction manuals, intermediate and end user manuals

Technical writers craft corporate documents, such as instruction manuals, intermediate and end user manuals Source: Flickr

Step 3: Complete a skill-based course

The next step is to acquire the specific skills that will help you excel in a career as a technical writer. In India, many universities offer technical writing courses, both online and offline. These courses equip you with the skills you need to become a certified technical writer, including writing, communication, and basic computer skills. Read on for a few of the best online courses available.

For those who have studied communications, language or writing courses at the bachelor’s level, this is the stage for them to enroll in a subject matter specialisation course - to gain the in-depth knowledge required by technical writers to simplify complex concepts for end users.

Step 4: Gain experience through internships

Entering a new field can feel more comfortable with the support of an experienced technical writer. Doing an internship under such a professional can help you discover what markets and companies are looking for in young professionals. Such mentors can also help you find professional development opportunities in the future.

Step 5: Build a work portfolio

Once you've developed technical writing skills, make a folder of writing samples, and samples of your work. When applying to organisations for vacancies, your portfolio serves as a ready proof of your skills. So focus on producing your best work while you are interning and freelancing, and make sure to have the work on file for future recruiters.

And now a bonus - here are..

3 top online technical writing courses:

Technical writers are in high demand globally owing to an increase in engineering, software development, and healthcare industries. India too has seen a rapid growth in these industries as well as the demand for competent technical writers. By all projections, this demand has definitely not peaked and it projected to grow further in the next decade or more. So work on building up your technical knowledge and communication skills to build a fulfilling and rewarding career in technical writing!

Last updated on 12 Sep 2022
11:54 AM
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