How to Become a Technical Writer?
Steps to Become a Technical WriterA technical writer translates complex information into easily understood pieces of content, such as user guides, reference guides, white papers, and online help sections. While these writers typically deliver their content in written form, there's also a growing demand for content that includes visual elements like illustrations, photos, screenshots, and graphics. The technical writer may create or source these for their finished pieces.
Hone your writing skills.
Strong writing skills are one of the most important qualifications for a technical writer. There are many ways that you can work on improving these skills. You might pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in technical writing, English, journalism, communications, or a related field. You can also take online classes, participate in writing workshops, or join a writer's group where you critique and edit one another's work.
One of the best ways to improve at writing is to practice the skill every day. There are many websites that accept submissions. Though these are often unpaid, they will give you hands-on experience in writing, and you will often receive insightful feedback that can help you improve your skills.
What type of degree should you pursue to become a Technical Writer?
83% of people working as a Technical Writer earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be a Technical Writer?
- Degree IN English
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Content Management Systems
- Written Communication
- Security Clearance
Build a portfolio.
Most companies interested in hiring a technical writer will want samples of each applicant's work. You can get your work published in print or online by searching for websites and publications in your field of expertise and checking their submission guidelines. Some will request that you send a pitch before completing a written piece, while others ask that you write on spec so they can consider the entire article before publication. Look for outlets that will include your byline so you can include these pieces in your portfolio and build a well-rounded sampling of your work for prospective employers.
Gain relevant work experience.
If you're interested in specializing in a particular type of technical writing, such as software manuals, it can help to have related work experience on your resume. Working at an IT help desk, for example, will demonstrate your experience working with technical issues and explaining the problem-solving process in understandable terms.
You can also gain writing experience simply by writing for as many outlets as possible. This may include starting your own blog, guest posting for other blogs, or writing pieces for professional websites.
Consider pursuing additional certifications.
Earning relevant certifications can help you build a stronger resume for a job as a technical writer. The Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) certification from the Society for Technical Communication demonstrates your knowledge of the best practices for technical communications. There are three levels of certification: Foundation, Practitioner, and Expert. You can achieve each level by passing a test.
The American Medical Writers Association offers the Medical Writer Certified designation for those with a bachelor's degree and two years of experience in medical communication who can pass the 125-question test.
Technical Writer Career Path
Senior Technical Writer
Lead Technical Writer
Total Pay Trajectory
Technical Writer Career Path
Related Careers in the Media & Communications Industry
Interested in other Media & Communications careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Technical Writer skills. Discover some of the most common Technical Writer career transitions, along with skills overlap.