Technical writers are responsible for taking technical information and rewriting it in a way that can be easily understood and utilized by non-technical people. Some of their work includes instruction manuals, user guides, manuals, white pages, design specifications, system manuals, and online help. These documents can be for technical, business or consumer audiences. Operating and maintenance manuals are also created by a technical writer. These are created for the technical worker who has a greater understanding of the subject. Creating these documents requires a great deal of research and subject matter knowledge. This is why many technical writers are subject matter experts. The online help files, documentation, and user guides that are seen on websites are also written by technical writers. To be a technical writer, one should have excellent research and writing skills, along with an understanding of information design, information architecture, training material development, illustration and graphic design, website design and management, user interfaces, and business analysis. An associate's or bachelor's degree in a science or technology field is required to work as a technical writer. It is also helpful to have a background in journalism or similar writing field. Technical writers are often experts in English language and grammar. It is important to become familiar with software programs such as Microsoft Word, Photoshop, and Illustrator. With these qualifications, a technical writer can be employed by the government, engineering firms, equipment manufacturers, and book and magazine publishers, or he or she can choose to be an independent contractor that does consulting and writing for many different companies.
Technical Writer Tasks
- Gather and research information for use in technical documentation.
- Assist in layout work.
- Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions.