Top 5 Reasons to Become a Technical Writer
What do you imagine when you think of technical writing? Many people consider this work difficult and boring because it’s about writing different sorts of instructions, complicated reports or product descriptions. That’s why many people hesitate to start their career in technical communication. But technical writing is much more than that.
In order to dispel your doubts, we’ve interviewed technical writers and asked them why did they decide to make a career in technical writing. Using their answers we wrote top 5 reasons to become a technical writer.
It’s a Creative Job
Many people think of technical writing as a dull job. This is true in part, because technical documentation writing doesn’t sound like fun. But technical writing is not about text only, but also about visual communication. The latter means that technical writers have to deal with different graphic tools and create not only images, diagrams or charts, but also audio and video files. Moreover, this job is not routine — today you are invited to present a project, tomorrow you are creating a video and so on.
The writing part of the job also has many advantages. For example, developing a user guide for a product provides an opportunity to work with the newest technologies and devices before they are released.
“Technical writing helps one understand technology better and thus increase one’s capacity to adapt to new waves of technology that affect every aspect of our lives. That helps us increase our feeling of adequacy in life and increase our resilience to cope with the challenges of everyday life. That’s the technically empowering aspect of technical writing.” -Ugur Akinci, Sr. Technical Writer at Fortune 100 Companies (1998-present).
Technical Writers Make Good Earnings
If you believe the myth that technical writers are pay less than other professions, you’re sadly mistaken! The data below confirms that technical writers are paid well.
According to PayScale, a technical writer earns $57,851 on average. Of course, it depends on experience and varies from company to company.
Jewel Medley, Research Lab Coordinator at FutureSearch commented on her salary:
“I really like having enough money to pay my bills, and since I’m determined not to get degrees in business or computer programming (where most of the folks I know seem to be making all the money), I find tech writing to be a happy compromise.”- Jewel Medley, Research Lab Coordinator at FutureSearch.
You’ll Acquire a Unique Set of Skills
In order to be a valuable player in a techcomm team and a competitive specialist on the market, a technical writer should possess a set of skills. For example, an analytical mind, good listening and interviewing skills, ability to interact with scientists, engineers and illustrators, research and exploration skills. Therefore a career in technical writing will make self-development a lifelong process for you.
“Technical writing teaches one how to be a keen observer of events and actions. Without observing sequential steps clearly, one cannot write a technical manual. That skill gradually transfers to other parts of one’s daily life as well, making you a more attentive and sensitive person.”- Ugur Akinci, Sr. Technical Writer at Fortune 100 Companies (1998-present).
You Don’t Need a Technical Background
In fact, you don’t need to know everything about the subject matter. You just need to know where to find necessary information, be able to analyze it and make a research and be passionate about writing.
Stephen Sealy, a technical writer who worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, shared his story:
“With a BA in journalism, I spent 8 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, then decided to look for a career with a better future. I took an occupational interest test at the local community college and saw that computer programming was one of the best choices for me, so I went to night school for that.
When I finished school and looked for a job as a programmer, I was offered a job as a technical writer because of the newspaper background. That worked out fine for me.
After spending some time as a technical writer, I got a surprise when I looked back at the results of the occupational interest test. The №1 choice for me on the test results was a technical writer, but I had ignored it, thinking it would be boring. I was wrong about that; it was interesting work.”- Stephen Sealy, Retired. Worked at Digital Equipment Corporation.
You Don’t Need a Degree
It doesn’t mean that you don’t need appropriate knowledge if you want to start your career as a technical writer. But it’s not necessary to get a B.S. or B.A.
A story of Andrew Gumperz confirms that:
“I started working as a technical writer because it was an easy way to make a professional salary without needing a lot of educational credentials.
I started as a tech writer in my late 20’s. I had not graduated from college and spent most of my twenties barely scraping by. Due to changes in my life, I now needed to make a professional-level income right away. Finishing college and earning some graduate degree to qualify myself for a well paid job was not a realistic option. So I had to find an inroad into an industry where advanced degrees were not that important.
I was bright, highly verbal and I liked computers (although I was not a programmer). I knew how to format a document using Word and other products and I learned new skills very quickly. This made me well suited for writing technical documents. And fortunately for me, nobody in the software industry cared about degrees if you could understand the ideas and do the work. That was almost 25 years ago and I have worked steadily in the computer industry ever since.”- Andrew Gumperz, LMS Administrator at John Muir Medical Center.
Ready to Start?
Technical writing is not easy, but it’s a job, that is available for everyone. You might think that you need to be a Jack-of-all-trades to suit the position requirements for the job, but it’s not like that. Leave out all the hesitations and make a career in technical communication!
Good Luck with your technical writing career!
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