How To Become A Technical Writer: A Complete Career Guide
Technical writing is one of the demanding skills in various industries. Mainly because every industry wants to document their products or services to attract clients. Here you can get an idea of how to become a technical writer without experience? You can also find some career guidance tips.
How to become a technical writer? To become a robust technical writer, first, start writing. Additionally, brush up your technical skills thoroughly in the niche you work in. Being updated in the field with high-quality technology communications makes you earn more perks and benefits.
The average wage for a technical writer in India is around 4.9 lakhs. Experience and skill set will boost the pay. Additionally, once the writer gains subject expertise, they can advance to the level of business analyst. With the increase in the number of web-based products, the demand for technical writers has multiplied more. The flexibility and the cheques they offer are pleasing. Hence it also attracts many women towards this.
This article mainly deals with why technical writing and how to become a technical writer without any experience and the required skills to be a strong and unique technical writer.
Learn the Fundamentals of Technical Writing
Why technical writing?
In earlier days, communicating technically was an informal mode to communicate. But in the prevailing tendency, many start-ups, IT giants, and other industries are looking for strengthening their documents. Reports reveal that companies have recruited 20% more people to strengthen their documentation and improve technical communication.
In India, Bengaluru tops the list with 35% of the total jobs for technical writing. Top recruiters include many big names like SAP, Oracle, Nokia, L&T, Cisco. It is also interesting to note that about 50-80% of those recruited are women. Being a more flexible option with lucrative cheques, technical writing also includes a factor that you are a life-long learner.
Choose a niche you are confident in. You should have in-depth knowledge to write as the audience reading the document does not have any knowledge.
The reports from the US Bureau of labor statistics estimate the demand for technical writers would increase by 10% from 2014-2024. Employment growth will also be increased by 10% as the technical and scientific products continue to increase with a web existence.
Read this article about the Top 10 Technical Writing Courses in India
Check out these courses from IIM SKILLS
What is technical writing?
Technical writing communicates all the technical aspects of something. These include computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations. This can be done on web pages or help files. Though it is a technical explanation, even a common man should understand the content for the intended purposes. High-level content is processed into digestible content for a specific group of audiences.
How to become a technical writer?
The next question that arises in the mind is- how to become a technical writer? Does becoming a technical writer requires any skill set or educational background? The below texts will give the solution.
Also, check How to Get Technical Writing Jobs
The technical writer requires customer-oriented writing skills. The content should be clear and concise. It should convey proper instructions to a wide variety of audiences. The writing should be perfectly organized and clear for the reader.
Whenever a writer uses a term, phrases, or any kind of slang, they should identify whether the audience will be able to understand or not. If it is not easily understandable, they should replace it with basic terms that help the audience to intercept easily. Proper grammar and syntax are necessary to make their writing user-friendly.
Technical knowledge on the niche the writer pens in will boost the strength of their writing skills. This also provides means to understand specific language and translate the terms. Documenting should be done from the reader’s point of view. If the words are too technical, it needs to be trimmed according to the audience capability.
For example, a person working on software or hardware can write a user manual for the same only when he knows the technology used. The same applies to pharma, where the scientific terms need to be turned into simple language. A writer should know all these before they can pen it to a simpler one.
Learn about Career Growth in Technical Writing
Needless to say, a technical writer needs to know various skills to provide documents. Specific tool knowledge like adobe FrameMaker, MSword, Madcap flare, Robohelp, even page marker, and quark is mandatory. The knowledge of these tools increases the salary. Because these are the tools organizations mainly rely on for documentation. Professional technical writers can learn these tools in no time as they are open to learning.
A good writer should be a good listener. They should listen to the client’s requirements.
To receive information, you need to approach a subject matter expert (SME). They mostly are experts working together or clients, or a technology worker. The writer should listen to them carefully, gain complete knowledge. Jot down the points. Clarify all the doubts, if any, and organize them well. If this is done properly, the output the writer produce will be worth it.
The heart of the document lies in its text. However, the visual display is the key factor. Even the clearest instruction can be lost with poor visual representation. Good formatting, templates, and images will make your text easy to understand for your audience.
Tips on how to become a technical writer:
To become a strong technical writer, the following aspects will help in becoming successful. These are pro tips for a technical writer.
1. Good research skills:
Research is an extensive process. The writer might or might not have knowledge of the research topic. With ubiquitous research, one can arrive at a clear understanding and hypothesis with evidence-based decisions.
As a strong technical writer, it is the writer’s responsibility to do research even on the topic they are confident about. This enables the flow of words and enhances the writer’s confidence.
This skill does wonders, especially in an outsourcing company where arises the need to deal with many clients. Many products, services are brand new. Writing under such situations is a tough call as it demands hours of extensive research, and consolidating the information is essential. After all, this is done, the writer needs to begin writing.
2. Writing in a correct style:
While as a good writer, writing skills are very essential. Before starting to write, ensure the content they are going to write. After this, ensure to pen in as a technical document abiding by the style or format. It needs to be direct and professional. Emotional texts are not welcomed in a technical document. It is also important to be more cautious in the following points while writing.
Writing in active voice over passive voice helps in simplified communication. They are direct and easy to understand. Active voice comprises the doer of the action as the subject.
Careful selection of words is a very essential part. The writer may need to choose the best words for the context. Additionally, the inclusion of details that are precise and easily understandable is essential. Writers should avoid using more pronouns as it may make things difficult for the readers to understand.
Technical writing needs to be direct. It is the instruction that a writer is going to provide for the users. Writers need to be brief in what they say. It is important to make texts as concise as possible by adding or eliminating the words. It is not necessary to add any color or complexity.
This is a real trap for the technical writer. Being more familiar with the industry, writers may end up using these without their knowledge. Hence, it confuses other readers. Jargons should be avoided and can be used only when it is for a specific audience. If they happen to use an abbreviation, include a technical term on the first usage, and within the parentheses give the abbreviation.
Use plain language:
Use plain language as it has a big takeaway that it makes readers understand texts clearly. Using fewer words communicates the same meaning to the reader in a more accessible way.
3. Audience analysis:
The technical writer needs to understand the audience’s goal. Gather information whether they are experts or the topic is new for them or they are at an intermediate level. The audience will have their expectations and needs. A clear understanding of their goals will guide the entire writing process. While you are analyzing your audience, analyze the following questions before starting.
- Who is the audience?
- What are they looking for?
- Where they will be reading?
- Why they will be reading?
- How will they read?
Before preparing the document answer these questions; it enables a clear flow in your writing process.
4. Documentation planning:
With the documentation request and audience clearly defined, next comes the greater part of conceptualizing the document. The technical document is complex, and lots of factors need to be considered. The writer may happen to skip some too. It is essential to create a mindmap for this. A mind map helps in inferring high-level relationships. This gives a visual overview before of how your writing will be.
Note A free tool available for mind map called free mind. It is easy to use and helpful in the brainstorming process.
5. Open for learning:
No technical writers know every technical aspect. Consulting with the experts plays a critical role. Experts will provide complete information that is more useful for the end-user. Engage with subject matter experts as early as possible as they play a crucial role in each stage. Their contribution during editing is very important. The subject matter experts may be colleagues, client contacts, or external experts- who are authorities on your topic.
6. Formatting styles:
A clear and professional formatting style will make the readers understand the documents well. A well-chosen, readable font, sizing, and layout will assist the reader while reading. Inclusion of a table of contents, appendices are needed if the document is large. This is one of the best structure information.
7. Enhanced appropriate graphics :
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is true even with technical writing. However, not all images are worth technical documentation. It is difficult to explain all technical information through texts. The incorporation of correct diagrams enhances the writing. The image should be direct, clearly referred to in both text and explanatory caption.
Note Do not use any decorative images on a technical document. It will distract the readers and degrades clarity.
As a writer, self-editing the document makes wonders. This mainly helps in avoiding grammar errors, spelling mistakes; if it is a lengthy document following tools may help out.
- Grammarly helps in checking grammar and spelling mistakes. It also helps in checking the various aspects of your writing like engagement, correctness, and how far it is favoring the readers.
- Hemingway editor helps in analyzing the readability score of your document. You can make your writing according to the targeted audience.
This acts as a primary review of the documents. Followed by this, a self-review through eyes is essential. Reading aloud will help in identifying potential long or awkward sentences and make them shorter.
9. Refresh your computer skills:
The technical writer needs strong computer skills like MS Office suite, typing skills. They have to give unique and plagiarism-free content. A good writer is someone with excellent writing skills and high-quality unique content.
10. Plan before you pen it:
Before they start writing, a writer should plan their document. Planning makes sure that the design of the document is in such a way that it is user-friendly. It should be clear.
How to become a technical writer successfully?
With all these steps and tips, ensure to do the following basic steps to get success as a technical writer.
How to become a technical writer without a diploma or degree?
Not at all! You do not want any degree to become a technical writer. There are many courses available online or offline mode. These course certifications and proper writing portfolio will fetch you winning jobs or impress your clients.
Just start writing:
Do not wait for the project to come your way. You can start building your writing portfolio on your own. Take any gadgets you use or any productive app with technical instructions that you feel you can write better, start writing on your own. Make the document better to be more clear and concise. Focus on the parts that you feel need improvement. These add to a great portfolio for you.
Focus on your niche:
This is an important step of the selection process. You need to be more specific in your niche to get clients. This is because every industry has different formats and technology. IT industry has a specific language that differs from pharma. The financial documents need different parameters. It is possible to write for multiple fields, but you need to focus on a particular field to get strong in writing.
Freelancing vs in-house:
Technical writers can fall into the category of independent freelancers or in-house employees. Freelancers work at their own pace and fashion. They are responsible for their own business and working hours. With the growing need for technical writers, there are more opportunities available for both freshers and experienced.
On the other hand, in-house employees provide their skills to one employee. This can be either as full-time writers or technical staff responsible for writing. Full-time writers work with subject matter experts in the concern to document. Employers usually prefer in-house employees because they know all the specific details. They act as subject matter experts. This ability of expertise communication is desirable for all employers.
Employees who are engineers or analysts can get befitted if they include technical writing in their skill set. Communication is the greatest barrier for a company. It is difficult to take any business decision with a communication gap. An employee who bridges the gap between technology and business will add greater value to the organization.
Where to look for jobs?
As a freelancer, you can find technical writing jobs on various online platforms like
Apart from this, your professional network has a great potential for fetching opportunities. Or if you are already working as an in-house employee offer samples of your writings with your supervisor.
Continuing education become a technical writer:
Technical writers are always in the learning phase. Good writers never stop polishing their writing skills. To have additional gains on educational benefits, you can enroll yourself in online or offline courses which are available. Some prominent ones are below:
You will get exposure to writing various reports like laboratory reports, research reports, consulting reports, etc. The course also approaches several languages, structure, content issues encountered while writing.
Learn more at Coursera Technical Writing Course
Almost all industries require technical writing to communicate with customers, clients, and reporting. For any type of documentation, Udemy has the course to succeed.
Explore this for top 8 technical writing courses in Udemy
Google itself offers a technical writing course for a software document. It is completely free. You do not need excellent English proficiency. With basic proficiency and with basic coding knowledge, you become an expert in this particular field.
These are some tools available online. However, many dedicated institutes provide technical writing. Please do your research based on your requirement and get one. No technical document can be an exciting one to read but reviewing highly read or used documents will help in improving your writing.
I hope you would have got an idea from above on how to become a technical writer. Technical writing is a real career boost and the most demanding skill in the current situation. An employee who can technically communicate is an asset for an organization. Becoming a pro in technical writing is not an overnight process. With slow and steady progress in your skills could fetch you a rewarding career. Investing in gaining this skill with time and money will make wonders in your professional life. To get a good kick start, never hesitate to start writing. With practice on and on, you will become an expert both in technical and business communication.
All the best to have a lucrative career!!!!