With the goal of communicating complex and highly technical information more easily, technical writers are responsible for preparing instruction manuals, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, journal articles, and other supporting documents in simpler terms.
Also commonly referred to as technical communicators, technical writers develop, collect, and simplify technical information for people with diverse professional backgrounds and knowledge levels.
Daily Duties for Technical Writers:
- Determining the needs of users of complex technical information
- Studying product samples and interviewing product designers or developers
- Collaborating with technical staff to make products easier to use for fewer instructions
- Organizing and composing supporting documents for products
- Utilizing pictures, drawings, animation, diagrams, and charts to further users’ understanding of complex directions
- Standardizing technical content across various platforms and media sources
- Collecting usability feedback to judge customer, designer, and manufacturer satisfaction
- Modifying or revising documentation as new problems occur
Technical Writer Job Description
What do technical writers do? Job opportunities for technical writers are most highly concentrated in information technology, scientific development, manufacturing, technical research, and administrative support services. Although most technical writers are employed directly by their companies, others may work on a freelance basis for technical consulting firms and be given specific short-term or recurring assignments for writing about new products.
While the majority of technical writers are employed full-time, some may be expected to work evening and weekend hours to meet deadlines or coordinate with business associates in other time zones. Applying their knowledge of the product, technical writers often serve as part of a team of computer hardware engineers, scientists, computer support specialists, software developers, illustrators, other writers, and engineers to manage the flow of information.
Skills Needed to Be a Technical Writer
In order to gain entry into this profession, technical writers usually must have at least a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. However, it is also required that technical writers have knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, medicine, web design, or information technology to develop the technical skills that are needed for simplifying complex information.
Technical writers must possess strong written and oral communication skills to explain technical information to individuals with non-technical backgrounds, interpersonal skills to effectively collaborate with other members of the project, and writing skills to explain technical information clearly with good grammar. Furthermore, successful technical writers need to be precise at creating detailed step-by-step directions and be imaginative to see a product from the point of view of a person without technical experience.