What Are the Typical Job Duties of a Professional Technical Writer?

Professional technical writers communicate information in an accurate and concise manner useful and understandable to end users. Technical writers must be able to discern pertinent information by conducting research and performing usability tests. They may also need to interview experts in the field they are writing about. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

Typical job duties for technical writers vary depending on specialty. Technical writers produce written materials online or in print that are intended for a variety of readers or viewers. The product is generally written in an easy-to-understand language and format. Materials that technical writers might produce include the following:

  • Operating manuals
  • Maintenance manuals
  • Catalogs
  • Proposals
  • Instructions
  • Online help manuals
  • Training course materials

Important Facts About Technical Writing

Median Salary (2014) $69,030
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 10% growth
Certification Not mandatory but favored by many employers; Certification available through the Society for Technical Communication
Similar Occupations Public relations and fundraising managers, editors, interpreters and translators, and public relations specialists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Typical Education and Experience Requirements

While many employers prefer that job candidates have at least a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, communications or a related field, others may accept a broad liberal arts or technical background along with satisfactory writing experience. For smaller companies, new writers may begin writing and editing materials immediately. In the case of larger companies, new writers generally conduct research, fact check, and copyedit drafts before being assigned their own writing projects.

Technical writers should generally be comfortable with computers, electronic publishing and video production as a part of their work. Drafts and finished products are often shared via e-mail or other digital relay systems. Depending on one's role within an organization, a technical writer may also be expected to read and interpret engineering plans and specifications, test software for usability, interpret scientific data or quickly become familiar with new digital applications and programs.

Common Career Opportunities

A professional technical writer may work for a magazine or book publisher, an engineering and design specification department, a product development team, an information technology firm, a usability study group, a programming department or a broadcasting company. Additional fields for technical writers include marketing and advertising agencies, safety and quality assurance departments and even public relations firms.

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