what's a technical writer?

Becoming a Technical Writer: Skills and Qualifications

This article provides an in-depth guide to becoming a successful technical writer, highlighting essential skills, qualifications, and career prospects.

It offers valuable insights into the role’s complexities, the necessary educational pathway, and the potential challenges encountered in this dynamic field.

For those considering a career in technical writing, this comprehensive overview will serve as an indispensable resource.

Key Takeaways

  • Technical writers typically need a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, journalism, or a related field.
  • Knowledge of or experience with a technical subject, such as science or engineering, is beneficial for technical writers.
  • Technical writing jobs may require candidates to have knowledge of a technical field, such as engineering or computer and information technology.
  • Additional training may be needed after employment to gain necessary skills in technical writing.

Understanding the Role of a Technical Writer

In understanding the role of a technical writer, one must recognise that they are pivotal in converting complex technical information into simpler, comprehensible content for non-technical audiences. As the demand for technical publications writer jobs continues to grow, it is increasingly important to understand what is a technical writer.

Essentially, they serve as a bridge between complex information and the end users who need to understand this information. Their work involves creating user guides, manuals, and other technical documents that help users navigate and use various products or services.

If you are wondering how to become a technical writer, the first step is usually earning a degree in English, communication, or a related field. Further, an understanding of technical fields and excellent writing skills are also crucial.

Essential Skills for a Successful Technical Writer

Anyone aspiring to be a successful technical writer must possess a diverse set of skills ranging from exceptional writing ability to an understanding of complex technical concepts. Equally important is the capacity to translate technical jargon into language easily comprehensible by the average reader. Exceptional research skills are also vital, as technical writers often need to decipher and distill complex information from various sources.

Technical writers must also have excellent attention to detail and strong organisational abilities to structure information logically. They should possess a deep understanding of their audience’s needs and be proficient in the use of technical writing tools and software. Additionally, they should have a knack for visual communication, given the role of diagrams, charts, and other visual aids in effective technical documentation.

Excellent problem-solving skills round out the core competencies of a successful technical writer.

The Educational Pathway to Technical Writing

The educational pathway to technical writing typically involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as English or communications, and it often benefits from additional experience or knowledge in a specific technical domain. However, this is not the only route. Many successful technical writers come from diverse backgrounds including science, engineering, IT, and healthcare. What they all have in common is a strong foundation in writing and a deep understanding of a specialised field.

Route Description
Bachelor’s Degree In English, Communications, Journalism, or related field
Experience In a specific technical domain
Certification From organisations like the Society for Technical Communication
Internship To gain practical experience
Continued Learning In new technologies, industries or writing techniques

Each of these routes can provide the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in technical writing.

how to become a technical writer

Career Prospects and Salary Expectations in Technical Writing

With regard to career prospects in technical writing, one can anticipate a myriad of opportunities across diverse industries, along with a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience and expertise.

Due to the importance of technical writing, the demand for technical writers is on a steady rise, driven by the expansion of scientific and technical products, and growth in digital product support.

The median annual wage for technical writers was $79,960 in May 2022, with the highest 10% earning more than $128,110.

The scope for advancement and high earning potential make technical writing a lucrative career choice.

The field is projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, indicating robust job prospects.

Therefore, a career in technical writing is not only financially rewarding but also offers substantial growth opportunities.

Overcoming Challenges in Technical Writing

Frequently, technical writers grapple with the challenge of simplifying complex information to ensure it is easily comprehensible by non-technical users. This task requires a fine balance between technical accuracy and clear, accessible language.

Another challenge emerges in the form of constant product updates that necessitate frequent documentation revisions. Moreover, technical writers must adapt their content to different user personas, an exercise that tests their versatility and understanding of the target audience.

Lastly, resistance from users who prefer not to read documentation poses an obstacle to user engagement. Nevertheless, these challenges can be surmounted through continuous professional development, effective use of technical writing tools, and a profound commitment to ensuring user satisfaction through high-quality documentation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Personal Qualities Are Beneficial for a Technical Writer to Possess?”

Beneficial personal qualities for a technical writer include strong communication skills, attention to detail, adaptability, problem-solving abilities, and a knack for simplifying complex information. Patience and curiosity also serve well in this role.

Are There Any Specific Software or Tools That a Technical Writer Should Be Proficient In?”

Technical writers should be proficient in various software tools. These include documentation software like MadCap Flare, Adobe Framemaker, version control systems like Git, and project management tools such as Jira and Trello.

What Kinds of Ongoing Professional Development or Training Are Important for a Technical Writer?”

Ongoing professional development for a technical writer may involve learning new software tools, enhancing research methods, developing graphic design skills, and staying updated on industry trends and technical advancements. Regular training is crucial for job proficiency.

How Does a Technical Writer Collaborate With Other Team Members in a Typical Project?”

A technical writer collaborates with various team members, including subject matter experts, developers, and designers, to gather information, clarify complex concepts, and ensure the final documentation accurately represents the product or process.

Are There Any Industry-Specific Considerations for Technical Writers in Fields Such as Healthcare or Law?”

Yes, industry-specific considerations for technical writers exist. In healthcare, understanding medical jargon and compliance laws is essential. In law, knowledge in legal terminologies and ability to interpret complex legal concepts are crucial.


In conclusion, a career in technical writing requires a unique blend of skills, qualifications, and experience.

With proper education and a thorough understanding of the role, individuals can navigate the challenges posed by this dynamic profession.

The prospects for job growth and competitive remuneration further enhance its appeal.

Therefore, aspiring technical writers should focus on developing the necessary skills and gaining comprehensive knowledge of their potential responsibilities to succeed in this demanding field.


How Does Article Usage in Technical Writing Impact the Work of a Technical Writer?

Article usage in technical writing is crucial for clarity and precision, and a technical writer must meticulously choose the right articles to ensure accurate and unambiguous communication of technical information.

What Is the Relationship Between a Technical Design Authority and a Technical Writer in Project Development?

The technical design authority provides the essential technical specifications and guidelines, which the technical writer then translates into clear, comprehensible documentation for various stakeholders.

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