Writing has always been a very diverse niche. And, as we progress through the digital age, different forms of writing are becoming more common. Technical writing is one of the many forms of writing. It can be described as a form of writing that requires a thorough condensation of complex information into simpler terms.
Several fields and industries deal in a lot of complex information. Usually, this information is hard to process even for specialists. Much less their potential or target audience and customers. This is where technical writing and technical writers come into the picture. Their ability to convert heaps of complex data into understandable information is what makes the field highly lucrative. This article will take you through everything about technical writing, what you need to do to understand how to become a technical writer, how to Become a Freelance Writer and how to get started immediately.
The Basics of Technical Writing
Various professions in medicine, law, data sciences, manufacturing, and other industrial fields often deal in heaps of technical information. And although the professionals and experts in these fields can understand the data, their audiences or customers simply cannot. Thus, to make all the vital information accessible, companies hire technical writers.
In broad terms, technical writing may be defined as the process of collating complex information into more straightforward and more understandable terms. In order to answer the questions of how to become a technical writer one needs to learn all about the overall presentation of information so that readers can understand and put it to use. Thus, to become an excellent technical writer, one should focus on the overall communication between a company and its audience.
Duties of a Technical Writer
Most technical writers usually go through a variety of personal or standardized processes. Although some of them can be similar, many depend on the particular field of work and writing. Some of the most common steps in the life of a technical writer are –
- Heavy Research: Researching is usually considered the most crucial component in technical writing. Without it, it would be difficult to obtain the latest and most accurate information.
- Understanding Their Target Audience: All types of writers need to understand their target audience thoroughly. By doing this, they will know the best language, writing tone, and direction to take forward.
- Brainstorming: Technical writers need to heavily brainstorm the best ideas while also keeping their target audience in mind. This will help them to condense their writing only to retain the most essential information.
- Creating Formats, Outlines, or Structures: Another critical step to present all the information in the best possible way is to format and structure their writing pieces. This will improve the overall readability of their work. Creating rough outlines can also help in this process.
- Selecting the Right Medium of Communication: Technical writers need to choose the most suitable medium of communication-based on their clients, audience, type of industry, type of writing, and more. Some of the channels may be different forms of social media, blogs, websites, magazines, technical journals, and more.
- Selecting the Right Forms of Media: Most forms of technical writing are accentuated with various forms of media and graphics. These could be in the form of pie charts, diagrams, infographics, images, and more. Writers should always use only the most recently created graphics.
Thus, creating a standardized approach and process can help answer the question “How to become a technical writer” in a much better way.
How to Become a Technical Writer?
Technical writing usually requires a broader skillset than other forms of writing. This is because it primarily deals with more complex information, which may be harder to understand. Some of the skills required are design, formatting, communication, research, presentation, and writing. Here are a few quickfire ways of becoming a technical writer –
1) Earn your Bachelor’s Degree
The journey into learning all the aspects of technical writing can be a long one. Some specialized fields like investigative journalism, law, medical sciences, engineering, and more require in-depth knowledge. Without it, one would find it hard to excel at technical writing and find appropriate jobs to support their dreams. Thus, a bachelor’s degree in a particular field is usually one of the best starting points to become a technical writer.
2) Pursue a Technical Writer Certification
A technical writing certification can help one to obtain a lot of extra knowledge required for the job. While a Bachelor’s degree can help, a specialized certification course can give students an extra push for job opportunities. Depending on one’s chosen field and type, of course, certifications can also boost one’s overall credibility as a writer.
Some of the best courses offered are by the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the American Medical Writers’ Association (AMWA), and the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire (UWEC). One can also check Google, Coursera, and Udemy for online courses in technical writing.
3) Create a Portfolio of Samples
An excellent way to become a professional technical writer and land good jobs is to create a portfolio. A portfolio should always contain one’s best samples and work. Other than this, it should also be created so that it is well-formatted and presented. Today, one can easily create a neat portfolio online that can be easily shared with one’s connections and potential employers. A good portfolio can massively boost one’s credibility and chances for success. A student can also add articles like “How to become a technical writer” to help others succeed.
4) Build Up Your Professional Network
Depending on one’s field, they can also attend various networking events to meet with potential employers. There are always events in medical sciences, Information Technology, engineering, and other technical fields. These events happen throughout the year in locations across the globe. One can attend such events by simply registering as a delegate or attending member. One should not think of socializing at these events as much as professional networking. This will keep them on track and help them meet many more people who can help them with jobs in the future.
How Much Can You Earn as a Technical Writer?
Some of the factors that determine the average salary of technical writers are one’s position, certifications, industry, education, experience, and other additional skills. According to Salary.com, the average salary of technical writers as of July 2021 is around $95,640. The website also shows that wages mostly range between $51,952 and $139,329.
The field of technical writing is also a lucrative choice because it witnesses fewer layoffs than other writing fields. This is because technical fields like medicine and law are some of the most vital and functional fields. Thus, technical writers can keep their jobs even as professionals like journalists, public relations writers, and authors lose theirs.
There is also evidence that the requirements for technical writers in the future will only continue to rise. This is because today’s digital atmosphere has enabled the creation of several more platforms where one’s writing can be published and showcased.
Inside the Mind of a Technical Writer
It may seem surprising, but the technical writing process can take a lot more time than the actual writing work. This is because technical writing is about a lot more science than art. Other forms of writing like articles or public relations writing don’t require as much information or planning. In contrast, technical writing involves heavy research, fact-checking, precision, accuracy, and design planning.
Thus, the answer to the question of how to become a technical writer lies in the way you prepare. Here are a few techniques to get started with the technical writing process:
For a technical writer, every process always begins with a request for a project. These projects can be shared by employers, clients, friends, or colleagues. Usually, a project request is sent with various details determining the requirements of the work. The best way forward for writers is to start by absorbing all of the essential information.
Then, they can begin mentally mapping their work out. If the project details aren’t entirely straightforward, one should immediately contact their client. After this, one can start preparing their actual work. This phase usually entails creating preliminary designs, frameworks, research, and sourcing additional material.
Perhaps the most significant merit of an excellent technical writer is how effectively they can communicate heavy information to their audience. While expert writers have a knack for this, beginners need to learn to incorporate this vital element in their work. Upon receiving all the details of one’s project, they should immediately focus on understanding their exact audience. This is because the main premise of technical writers is to explain the meaning of complicated jargon and text to readers.
In most cases, the overall technical information will not change. This means that to become a technical writer, one should always focus on conveying their message in the easiest possible way. And, one of the quickest ways to perfect this is to keep on reading and practicing.
Understand the User
Another vital aspect in the technical writing niche is to thoroughly understand the final use of the documents or work prepared by writers. This is different from understanding one’s audience because it gives writers the ultimate purpose for their writing. But this aspect can also be taken as an extension of understanding one’s audience.
Understanding the exact needs of users can also broaden the perspective of a technical writer and their work. An excellent way to determine how users can use their work is to assess how and where it will finally be used. This can be done by measuring the two extreme spectrums of one’s work. One end would be for experts, and the other would be for beginners. After this, they can adequately categorize how they should produce their final output.
Tricks of the Trade
So, how do you become a technical writer? Here are some valuable tips to becoming an excellent technical writer with good-paying jobs are –
- Always Be Prepared – Don’t wait for any opportunities to come your way. Start with what you have and make progress. Working to keep yourself up-to-date and prepared is key for success in technical writing.
- Be Consistent with All Aspects of Writing – Don’t falter while on your way. You need always be a part of the technical writing game to not miss out on any opportunities to learn and grow.
- Write! Write! Write! – The more you write, the better you become at it. It’s as simple as that. Expert writers have earned their fame because of consistent writing.
- Read Books & Similar Work to Your Field – Reading is perhaps the best form of learning. Especially for growing in any technical field. Reading can give you access to knowledge and give you more elegant ideas for your writing.
- Take Specialized Courses – As discussed, specialized courses can make the difference between landing average jobs or great jobs. Depending on your field, select the best courses or programs so you can move towards landing your dream job(s).
- Consult Technical Writing Professionals – Today’s digital climate has allowed professionals to quickly reach out to those who want to learn from them. Likewise, students can also privately consult with such professionals to get some good tips.
Teach and Learn
Helping others get better is an excellent way to help us get better at what we do. And, a perfect way to do this is through tutoring? Today, several online platforms can help one to get started with tutoring jobs quickly. The only challenge is to select the most suitable platform and get started. One of the best platforms to help someone to begin a tutoring job is Studyfy.com.
This platform has a vast network of tutors spread across a variety of fields. It has also got various professionals that can help with a slew of different tasks. Studyfy.com is designed to allow all types of students to manage their workload in a better way. Some of the functions usually include technical writing, essay writing, proofreading, editing, and more. Another significant aspect of this platform is that it always has open positions for skilled professionals.
Technical writing is a highly respectable job. It is also often considered as the gold or platinum standard of writing. This is because the question ‘How to become a technical writer’ is hard to answer. But there are a lot of ways through which one can significantly improve their technical writing skills. Online platforms like Coursera and Udemy can help give aspirers a kickstart in terms of knowledge. At the same time, a platform like Studyfy.com can also help them get quick teaching jobs to improve their skills further.