I may be wrong but I do feel from the very core of my heart that technical writing does not attract the same amount of respect that the writers in many other fields get.
The sole motive of my article is to grab the attention of the unemployed, under-waged techies and make them seriously consider technical writing as a much better career option in comparison to many other professions.
As an electronics and communication engineering graduate I have come across unemployed technocrats and also those who deserve a good wage but are hugely underpaid.
In an article published in The Economic Times, India, technical writing was held as the 3rd of the 6 highest paying jobs in the nation. You can have a look here.
When I got to study deeper into things like technical documentation, product spec creation and peer comparison, it was of gradual enlightenment for me to understand that for those having a knack for technical matters, technical writing was a boon.
In the following paragraphs the problems due to which techies do not try their hands in this field have been raised and dealt with in detail.
Read the problems and read further to understand why the solutions are so easy. You will definitely soon be filled with a feeling of regret, thinking why you sidelined this chance of a great career.
However, I’ll advise to not waste any more time regretting and swing into fast action.
Why Don’t You Consider Becoming a Technical Writer?
To my understanding, the following are either the reasons for your not venturing in the field of technical writing even though technical matters interest you or the reasons why you should rather venture :
If you’re reading this article, I hope machines attract you. And perhaps you like to give solutions for removing technical snags. I assume writing not being your forte, you cannot express your ideas too often.
Good technocrats are seldom good writers. That may sound a bit illogical but that has been my observation. Perhaps technical component hogging the lime light in their lives, they find little time to learn and hone the skill of writing.
Perhaps, you’re unable to rid yourself of the fear.
Had communication been the only problem, I would not have invited you to read this article. What really makes me persuade you to read this blog post is an information I want to share with you.
Plenty of money is waiting for you and all you have to do is add another skill and make that work in combo with your technical knowledge and acumen. And yes, the skill is technical writing.
Here, let’s have an idea about what kind of salary yo may expect as a technical writer:
|Sl.No.||Technical Writer Salary||Information Source|
|1.||The median salary of technical writers in United States in 2018 was $71,850||MONEY.USNEWS website|
|2.||The average salary of a technical writer in the United Kingdom is GBPs 36,631 p.a. (updated 6th July, 2020)||GLASSDOOR website|
|3.||Average salary of technical writer in Australia is AU$ 82,008 plus other benefits.||PAYSCALE website|
|4.||The average Entry Level Technical Writer salary in the United States is $57,201 as of June 28, 2020 and the entry level salaries vary from $49,000 to $65000||SALARY website|
If you are an engineering graduate like me, you know the degree of unemployment among technical literates. Even though basic unemployment in this class may not be a factor to bother about, still good employment with good remuneration is.
First, look at the roles technical writing jobs want you to play:
Job Profile of a Technical Writer
|Sl. No.||Jobs to be performed|
|1.||You will prepare technical instruction booklets and Spec manuals|
|2.||One of your jobs will be to simplify sophisticated technical terms and educate your customers on them.|
|3.||Write on troubleshooting (solving) technical snags|
|4.||Interact with product developers to understand the intricacies of operation and specifications|
|5.||Create tutorials and compose technical documentation|
|6.||Write on troubleshooting (solving) technical snags|
Now, pitch yourself against a general writer who’s chilling out on a company’s fat emoluments and barely knows and bothers about intricate technical matters. Can you be a better technical writer than him?
Did you say, ” Why was I not thinking of this? I can definitely write a better cellphone review than a run-of-the-mill review-writer.”?
Apps, cellphones, tablets and other gadgets rule the world – you’ll be a person in great demand. Whereas people respect you as a tech guru you will find great satisfaction in making a layman understand his gadgets and use them well.
As I mentioned earlier in an article published in The Economic Times, India, 2017, technical writing was found as the 3rd most rewarding job.
Even today, with the range of consumer products ever increasing and online selling platforms mushrooming everywhere, the future of work definitely holds a good rank for technical writing.
Yes, Technology Interests me But How Can I become a Technical Writer?
Now that you’ve accepted your curiosity for technology and expressed your will to become a technical writer, let’s explore the ‘HOW’ of it and let’s move step-by-step.
You Have Technical Knowledge, Now Concentrate on the ‘WRITING’ Component
At the very first step you have to make a promise to yourself – that of writing 500 to 1000 words daily. Write on any element of the tech world and write on any aspect of it. But try to drive this point deep into your head that you cannot become a writer of any sort without writing daily.
Create a List and Start Writing
Make a list of appliances, gadgets and apps you use regularly. A typical list might look like this:
- Fridge (General Electric)
- Washing machine (LG)
- Dishwasher (Bosch)
- Cell phone (Motorola)
- Mobile app (Radio Garden)
Start writing about these on your own. Mention main points as well as minutest details. Remember you have an edge over others here. Then compare your points with those in the manuals/ booklets of these equipment.
As you are a technical mind you will notice at this point that your write-up is technically superior to that in the technical document but lacking in presentation.
It may take a month or two before you will feel satisfied over the samples you are producing.
Different types of technical writing are intended for creation of:
- User manuals, booklets and other reference material
- Product marketing releases and promotional elements
- Trouble shooting guides, tutorials etc.
You are at your liberty to choose any particular stream or some or all of them. So, read about them, take a decision and move to the next step.
Find Some Sources for Reference
Next step is to scan the internet for some great technical writing content from where you intend to learn. You will also find some guides on the web to help you. Here are some examples:
- Download this book
- Tips to improve your technical writing
- A practically useful article on how to do technical writing research by Kesi Parker
- Get acquainted with some technical writing examples by Ferry Vermeulen
If you intend to take a more serious approach you can find and take a paid course that will award you with a technical writing certification.
After you feel you have gathered some sort of technical writing skill, I think you are well placed to find your way. Next step consists in creating your technical writing samples.
Preparation of a Technical Writing Portfolio
As you have been writing 500-1000 words daily and it has been more than a month, I believe you have some blue prints at hand. Now is the time to prepare your final, well presented samples and create a portfolio out of them.
Apply these mini steps:
- Select one of the topics.
- Cut the unwanted words, sentences and paragraphs.
- Split the content into numbered lists, subheadings, tables etc.
- Provide suitable images, info-graphics and schematics.
- Your write-up must contain finer intricacies to edge out the generalist.
- Separate the content into smaller parts through colors and font styles.
This makes your sample ready. Find time to prepare 5-10 such samples.
Technical Writer Resume
I will not elaborate much on this because there are lots of material on this on the net. However, include these important points along with the basic ones:
- A technical qualification in case you have one
- Any special achievement like a published paper
- Any branch of technology in which you are specially interested
- An item or product that you have invented or designed
- An item in technical docs you think is often wrongly depicted and your suggestions for improvement
- Your technical writing portfolio containing the samples
Here is a link to one good web source to consult while preparing your technical writing resume:
Consider Technical Writing as a Career Option Seriously
The motive behind painfully collecting the above mentioned job description is to make you understand that someone actually interested in technical matters can do a far better job as a technical writer than one who is not interested in latest technical trends and is just discharging the duty.
The entire effort here, is to warm up your fondness for technical writing. When you try your hand in this field I firmly believe you’ll be rewarded well. Getting a breakthrough may not be easy but the struggle towards the top will put hefty money in your pocket.
Remember one thing, the earning figures I’ve shared earlier are average and median salaries. I also want you to know that the top-notch technical writers are earning above $94,000 and that with effort and training you can well place yourself in the category of those select technical writers.
However, the Covid effect must have taken its toll in this field too thereby reducing salaries in the segment. Once we are ahead of the crisis, normalcy will come fast because of the fast upswing in digital marketing activities.
My suggestion will be to start venturing in and get acquainted with the climatic conditions in the sector at the earliest. The earlier you season yourself, the better will you place yourself in the sector.
The best way to shoot into technical writing will be to summarize what you gathered from this post and chalk out a course for yourself.
Once you are done with the planning, take the steps suggested in the article and launch yourself in the field.
Please find time to comment on the article and write what you gained from it. I hope if this post propelled you into considering technical writing as a career option, the purpose of this post has been achieved.
You’ll soon feel that you have taken not only a right but hugely beneficial decision.