What Does a Technical Writer Do?
If you’ve ever needed technical help with your computer or tried replacing a part in a washing machine, you've probably referred to the how-to guide written by a technical writer. Technical writers transform complex information into clear and concise documentation that can be easily understood by the average person. They research, compile and prepare technical information to create instruction manuals, quick reference guides and white papers for manufacturers, designers and clients. They may also create content for social media posts, press releases and web pages. Technical writers work in many fields – such as technology, engineering, medicine and the sciences. Many technical writers are self-employed.
- Analyze the target audience
- Research, write, edit and proofread complex technical data
- Create, maintain and update manuals and other documents
- Determine the best way to share the information, such as video or paper manual
- Provide writing, editing and design support to other team members
- Design and establish style guidelines and standards for texts and illustrations
- Incorporate images, lists, charts and headings to increase usability
- Collect user feedback to update and improve content
Some companies allow employees to work their way up to a technical writing role. Many employers look for a bachelor’s degree in English or communications.
Not surprisingly, knowledge of or experience with a technical subject, such as science, engineering or medicine, is beneficial. Many writers get on-the-job training to understand and utilize the company’s preferred communication style, especially if their background is in narrative writing.
Most credentials are not mandatory but they may provide opportunities for advancement.
- Have excellent critical thinking skills
- Are detailed-oriented
- Have excellent writing skills
- Are skilled at clearly explaining complex ideas
- Enjoy working on a team