How To Become A Technical Writer: A Complete Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 18 December 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Technical writing is a complex type of communication that requires a thorough understanding of the technological principles contained in manuals and training materials. Technical writers rely on their ability to absorb complex knowledge and compose material that a variety of audiences can understand. If you are thinking about becoming a technical writer, it is important to understand how you can improve your abilities and become a more qualified job candidate. In this article, we discuss how to become a technical writer, what technical writers do and the skills required to succeed as a technical writer.

How To Become A Technical Writer

Developing your skills in written communication, design, formatting, research and analysis is important if you want to become a technical writer. The steps below describe how to become a technical writer:

1. Earn your bachelor's degree

Earning a bachelor's degree in a field such as technical communications or journalism can improve your job prospects and help you become a qualified technical writer. In addition to this, you may also consider developing your knowledge of specialised fields, like engineering, computer and data science and medicine, through additional coursework and training.

2. Enrol in a technical writing course

Many universities and colleges offer technical writing courses through both online and offline modes. Enrolling in these courses can help you gain necessary skills, like writing and communication, basic computer abilities and graphic design, to help you become a certified technical writer.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Choose your niche

Technical writers and communicators typically select from technical, medical and scientific courses to pursue their degrees. Choose the track that most appeals to you so you can familiarise yourself with the style, vocabulary and best practices of that particular trade. You may start by applying these tactics to create sample work for your portfolio.

4. Find a mentor

You may feel more comfortable starting work in a new field might by seeking the assistance of an experienced technical writer who can help you as you begin your journey. Your mentor can provide you with guidance and inform you which marketplaces or businesses are seeking entry-level employees. If you are not sure which sector of technical writing is right for you, a mentor can help you comprehend the various factors that may influence your decision. A mentor can also assist you in gaining access to new training and professional development opportunities.

5. Establish a professional network

Consider joining a technical writing organisation and attending networking events where experts from the IT, scientific and medical fields meet. This can give you a clear idea of the skills you need to become a technical writer. You can also join online technical groups to develop your industrial knowledge and meet with other professionals virtually.

6. Learn technical skills

As many technical writers create content for online platforms and websites, it is critical to learn design skills. You can consider taking online courses, examine learning materials and use tools that may help you obtain the skills for the job. It may also benefit your career to familiarise yourself with basic coding knowledge about HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

7. Create a portfolio

As you develop your technical writing ability, collect writing samples of your work and offer to take on small projects for friends and acquaintances. Try to make your sample impeccable and appealing as evidence of your skills. Include your specialised niche, educational experience, essay publications, achievements or tools you use in your portfolio to highlight your skills to clients.

What Is A Technical Writer?

Technical writers develop documents, user guides and other written materials for technical products and services. They create technical documents, product descriptions, user guides, reference guides, white papers, journal articles and other materials. They break down complex manuals to help different audiences understand specialised topics, such as how to operate industrial equipment or how to program a digital device.

A technical writer creates technical manuals using digital tools to collaborate with web designers, industry experts and administrative professionals. They usually work for a firm as a full-time employee or as a freelancer for a variety of clients.

What Does A Technical Writer Do?

Some of the most important tasks that technical writers regularly perform include:

  • Brainstorming, outlining and producing professional documentation that is free of any errors for a variety of audience and knowledge levels

  • Communicating technical concepts, including computer applications, medical procedures, environmental and economic regulations and manufacturing and engineering processes

  • Applying research and evaluation to create documents that communicate complex information in a clear and concise manner

  • Analysing target audiences to define the project requirements and planning the content presentation, design and tone

  • Designing documents using a variety of charts, infographics, images, diagrams, headings and lists to increase readability

  • Editing written documents to ensure the use of simplified language that explains complex ideas in a variety of technical subjects

Technical writers work in a broad range of industries to simplify complex processes and terms. In the IT industry, for instance, technical writers produce instruction manuals and user guides that help consumers understand how to use software applications. Technical writers in the medical field perform research and outline data to produce many forms of documents that explain complex medical procedures, outline medical case studies and describe the interactions of pharmaceuticals.

Skills Required To Become A Technical Writer

To become a technical writer, you need to master specific skills. Some of the critical abilities that are important for technical writers include:

  • Communication skills: Technical writers need communication abilities to share information and connect with other professionals to complete the writing process. Writing that communicates all necessary ideas in a clear manner to a variety of audiences can make your technical messages simple and understandable.

  • Technical skills: Before you begin writing technical content on any topic, it is important to become familiar with the relevant field and understand the basics of how to use or operate a device or item. For instance, knowledge of coding languages and other tools can be helpful when writing a developer's guide.

  • Writing skills: Technical writers use concise and clear language in verbal and written communication. User manuals, technical reports or case studies require different styles of writing, so it is important to develop versatile writing skills.

  • Research skills: Researching technical subjects and organising the results is an important skill for technical writers. Conducting extensive research helps you write more detailed instructions for a target audience.

  • Design skills: A technical writer's job may require data visualisation in the form of graphics, video formats and illustration. These abilities are necessary for making the material more user-friendly and easy to understand.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide

What Are The Benefits Of Becoming A Technical Writer?

With the rising use of technology in everyday life, technical writers are needed to compose user manuals, technological training documents and device instructions. Companies that invest time and money into high-quality content to communicate with their target audience need technical writers to complete complex tasks. You can also choose to work as a freelance technical writer, giving yourself the flexibility to determine your assignments and schedule.

Related: 10 Tips To Improve Your Writing Skills

Are Technical Writers In Demand?

The demand for technical writers has increased as the software development, engineering and healthcare industries continue to grow. India is growing at a fast pace, and its manufacturing and service industries are creating a lot of opportunities for technical writers. With this rise, the demand for candidates with strong technical skills is also increasing and people with these skills can find opportunities in a variety of industries.

Related: Tips on How To Work Hard for a Successful Career

Tips To Help You Become A Technical Writer

Here are some tips that can help you start your career in technical writing:

  • Become a versatile professional: A technical writer must be well-versed in several contexts, including the latest technologies, software programs and other technical fields. Broadening your understanding and knowledge in the fields you write for can help you gain expertise.

  • Focus on clear and concise writing: Technical writers take complex knowledge and turn it into writing that is easy to read for a variety of audiences. Continue to hone your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively through professional training and personal study.

  • Get certified: Many universities offer training courses in technical writing. Earning a distinction like the Certified Professional Technical Communicator from the Society for Technical Communication can prove your expertise to employers.

Please note that none of the companies or certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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