• You lack the resources to maintain existing manuals for your products or services
• There is a lag in the creation of new internal manuals and other technical documentation
• Your personnel are not adequately supported by process manuals
• There are no up-to-date training materials for new employees
• You have periods of excessively heavy workload
Your employees are likely occupied with the management, research, or development for which they were hired. Should you really divert them from the valuable functions they perform when a technical writing service can do the job? In most cases it is best to delegate the task of creating technical documentation to a technical writing service.
Technical writers collect information from existing materials and from experts in the field on a particular subject matter. A good technical writer will know, or be able to readily assimilate, industry jargon and established conventions and be able to draft the technical documentation in such a manner that it is user friendly in format and is easily understood by those who need to follow it.
Although some technical writing services will operate in a niche, a professional technical writing service is usually able to handle producing technical documentation along a broad spectrum. Service providers generally pride themselves on producing highly customized documentation for your business. In fact, you may request documentation to augment your existing framework or you can order an entirely new, coherent package. At the very least, you should expect to see assistance with writing most of the following on offer:
• Product specifications
• Service manuals
• User guides
• Software or hardware documentation
• Data sheets
• Training manuals
• Distance learning and video instruction
• Editing and proofreading
As a matter of course, production of the technical document or package of documents should go through the following procedural steps:
1. Project planning
2. Identification of objectives to be facilitated
3. Analysis of document users and usage
4. Consideration of resources and limitations
5. Content compilation
6. Formatting selections
8. Editing and proofreading
10. Document revision
The value of good technical documentation should not be underestimated since the material will be in use and providing benefits long after completion of the project. Needless to say, you need a good technical writing service to provide you with top quality technical documentation.
Technical writing is a useful form of writing and communication, which aims to provide technical details, business documentation or educational information. It is the best way to assist the individual to understand the processes, systems and procedures. Technical writing intends to give a concise and clear message in order to help the readers in better and accurate understanding.
Most people are not aware or do not notice that technical text is all around us. For instance, when the person is reading educational textbooks or trying to operate any computer, cell phone or appliances they will refer to an owner's manual and by that means, they are already being exposed to technical writing. In doing trouble shooting or just reading the frequently asked questions, that is also technical.
In fact, technical writing is the "how to" of life. For example, the companies who manufacture products should cautiously consider that technical information serves as a bridge between the users and the products. Complete facts about the products such as instructions on how to use it and detailed warnings will surely help the customer to enjoy the benefits and advantages of what they have purchased. It also protects the company and everyone involved in the creation of the product from any form of liability.
Most businesses must communicate technically to their employees, whether through handbooks, training manuals, or employee guidelines, and even in daily emails and regular seminars. Moreover, technical writing is beneficial for teachers and students in terms of accurate documentation of projects, reports, questionnaires, diagrams, research and many other types of professional writing. Furthermore, many engineers are also using technical composition in most aspects of their works. In designing audio or electronic equipment which utilizes different types of parts, being able to read descriptions of the design, a lot of data sheets and to understand the instructions precisely is very essential.
A good technical writer must be clear and direct to the point. Any room for imagination is not accepted since it involves translating technical and scientific details in simple structure, logical order, factual information and more easily understandable language. Hiring the best technical writing services can provide businesses with a competitive advantage. For example, your business competition increases with increased popularity of internet. Technical freelance services can ensure that your consumers understand your product information, including instructions, procedures, and warnings. This will save time on customer service calls and decrease your risk of lawsuits.
Sitting at home without any work can really be monotonous at times, especially when you have enormous technical writing opportunities available on internet. There are many types of writing jobs available online, and depending on your field of interest or expertise, you are really spoilt for choice.
Freelance writing work can be exceptionally stimulating and rewarding. A technical writer that is recognized for his or her applied knowledge can easily earn up to $5000 per month on a part-time basis. This amount can become even more if the writer opts to go full-time.
But not everyone has all the freelance technical writing skills which are required to deliver consistent high quality work all the time. As a minimum requirement, three or more of the attributes as mentioned below, are essential:
* Technical computer skills and expert use of word processing packages
* Knowledge about writing work including style and grammar
* Time management skills and the ability to concentrate
* Mastery in proof reading, editing and recognizing minor flaws
* Knowledge about useful day-to-day products and their markets.
In order to tart grabbing technical writing opportunities, you must take a careful look at yourself and establish whether the above mentioned qualities and attributes are residing in you. If some of them are lacking, it indicates a short-coming in your skills set, and you need to polish up in that particular direction, by attending a skills enhancement course.
You must not be reluctant in communicating with people online to get work. As a freelancer it will be beneficial for you to have a portfolio to present when seeking writing opportunities. There are many industries from where you can start your freelance technical writing career. These include;
* Daily transportation services
* Online Manufacturing markets
* Technical world of computers
* Various fields of engineering
* Construction industry
* Science and technology
* Governmental and related fields
To develop your freelance writing career you can very well select one of the above industries to make a quick start. For newbie's in the technical writing field there a various available options. If you are a newcomer, then you can start by posting your portfolio on blogs and freelance writing websites. Well-known, authentic websites offering technical writing opportunities to aspiring writers includes Bright Hub and Wise Geek. It is also possible to gain experience by writing for online forums, and thus build up your reputation.
When you going for a freelance technical writing career then you must keep in mind your rights as well as client's requirements, and only take on assignments that you are comfortable with.
Students can enroll in a number of accredited vocational training programs in order to gain an education in technical writing. Professionals in this field are trained to translate technical and scientific languages into a simple language that people can understand. Students can work for a variety of companies once they have obtained an accredited degree in the field. Students have the opportunity to train for an exciting career in technical writing by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program.
Training can include obtaining a certificate or bachelors degree in technical writing. Students can choose to complete anywhere from six months to four years of educational training. With an accredited education in technical writing students can learn a number of skills needed to enter into the workforce.
- Learn to write assembly instructions for various products.
- Train in writing user manuals for electronics and more.
- Gain knowledge in writing internet content for various websites.
- Learn to write training manuals for employers and companies.
- Train for careers producing reports for various companies.
- Learn to write policies and procedures to be used by organizations.
With an education in this field students will gain the knowledge and skills they need to seek employment in a variety of areas. Accredited vocational schools allow students to train for the career they desire.
Coursework will vary by program, desired career area, and vocational school of attendance. Students can study a variety of subjects that relate to technical writing including subjects of study such as:
- Print Production
- Web Site Design
- Content Management
- Computer Programming
- Scientific Writing
- Technical Communication
- Web Site Publishing
- Technical Editing
- Scientific Communication
- Visual Media
- User Interface Lay-Out
Career training will allow students to pursue a variety of positions with a number of companies. Accredited training can provide students with the opportunity to enter into careers working with:
- Book Publishers
...and much more. Students who earn a certificate or degree in this field can seek out employment in:
...and many other areas. Accredited vocational schools prepare students for entrance into the career of their dreams in technical writing.
By enrolling in an accredited technical training program students can gain the training needed to pursue the career of their dreams. Accrediting agencies like the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (www.acics.org) are approved to fully accredit qualifying vocational training programs. Students can learn more about the education of their choice by requesting more information about available programs. Start the path to an exciting career by enrolling in a technical writing program today.
DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved by PETAP.org.
Manuals and guides are important things that you can find in a gadget or a device's packaging and if you are trying to set up your own business, you will find the need to get technical writing services not just for electronic devices and gadgets but for so many uses.
If you have an online business, you would need technical writing services to draft your online store policies or online instructions on how to use certain devices or how to check operate them, thus it is indeed helpful to be able to seek the help and expertise of technical writers.
What is good in finding technical writing services is that, you can actually hire a technical writer and let him work virtually for you. Indeed, the internet makes a lot of things easy and convenient, and this is indeed one of those.
If you are looking for technical writers, you can also find them online. You can actually find jobsites online that allow the meeting of employers and freelancers, agree on a price and close the deal. You can also find technical writers who promote their resumes online in jobsites. They usually provide details as to their experiences in the field as well as their educational attainment.
You may also find feedback or ratings that are indicators of their performances as writers, which facilitates the choosing.
Another way of finding technical writers online is to find technical writing companies who offer their skills and expertise for you. Of course, you can always ask for their portfolio if you want to make sure that they really have a good quality work and output.
In finding a good technical writer, it is also important to consider several things. You have to check out the clarity of the writing. Keep in mind that it is not creative writing, thus a flowery writing may not be the best work that you are looking for.
Aside from the writing, technical knowledge on the product can be a big plus as well. Of course, a knowledge on the product allows you to write effectively as to the instructions on how to use it. Although the technical knowledge part can be learned, it can save you a lot of money and time to have someone who is experienced than starting another training session.
Of course, outputs and results of technical writers may differ, but it is important that you hire technical writers to save time, effort and cost and not just hire someone to train for several months later.
Keep these tips in mind in finding technical writing services later and you will find it easier and convenient to finish this part of the business.
One of the tasks that many businesses need is technical writing. This is the task that involves writing manuals or guides and writing down instructions that come along with many gadgets and equipment.
If you have a business that requires this particular skill, you can actually outsource this to get cheaper cost. There are a lot of technical writers online, most of them are part-timers and some others are freelancers who accept technical writing jobs as a means to make money online. Aside form individual freelancers, you can also find technical writing companies who offer their skill in technical writing.
Indeed, you do not have to bother yourself with the writing thing. This task will only eat up much of your time and may grab away your precious time instead of focusing on the much bigger details of your business.
Even if you are maintaining an online business, you would still need someone to draft your policies and procedures, rules, online documentations, and even online user guides. Indeed, it is important that you hire someone who is already knowledgeable and skilled in the said field and you can forget about worrying over it.
In choosing your technical writing companies or individuals to work for you in your business, it is important to consider a few factors that will help you get the best services at a reasonable cost.
- Assess the writing skills. Keep in mind that technical writing should be clear and concise, as you are writing not to impress but to instruct the consumers what to do once an item has been placed in their hands.
- Assess the technical knowledge. Of course, if you want to hire technical writing companies, make sure that they know your industry. One can write a good instruction or manual if he is familiar with the product or the item. Of course, this depends largely on the nature of your business too.
- Check out the tools used by technical writing companies. Indeed, you can also try to check whether the tools that they have can provide you with the output that you desire. Technical writing may not need very close supervision but you can actually screen your technical writers nicely and check if they can produce that clean output that you are looking for.
- Assess the clarity of the written output. This is one of the many important considerations in trying to get a technical writer. Keep in mind that they are supposed to be tasked to make everything easy for the customers and if they themselves cannot express with clarity, all your efforts may be put to waste.
It is also important that if you are looking for ways to outsource your technical writing needs, you have to set out the specific needs of your business and that you have to be specific as to the set of rules that you want followed.
The amount of difficult subject matter that needs to be understood by the everyday consumer requires specific writing abilities. Students can learn how to convey complicated content in a user-friendly way through training. Accredited programs at multiple levels can be completed online that prepare students to become professional technical writers.
Education teaches students to simplify documents so the public can understand them. Training prepares students to write for Internet sites, engineering companies, medical offices, software businesses, government agencies, and more. The world of technical writing can be pursued at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree level. The higher education level students complete the more advanced career opportunities will be available to them. Some online colleges may provide students with certificate programs as well.
Students learn to design, edit, write, and interpret information inside an associate's degree program. Coursework prepares students to work with technical and non-technical employees in order to successfully translate information into a readable non-jargon based format. The use of proper business grammar and research ability allows students to understand how to write press releases, websites, and protocol materials. Further education gives students a wider knowledge base that can be used to write about a higher level of complicated material.
Bachelor's degree programs give students a strong base in strategy and design principles. Education focuses on scientific and computer-based communications to train students for careers. Information design, production, and software are some fundamental areas that are studied. The mechanics of writing is explored to give students the ability to write proposals, grants, and more. Subjects such as documentation, professional editing, and rhetorical theory give students strong technical writing skills. Developing information, managing a system, and designing a website for professional use are other skills obtained at the bachelor's degree level.
Students that want to become upper-level technical writers should consider completing a master's degree program. Producing documents and understanding international communication are heavily focused on at this level of education. Subjects explore advanced skills that give students the knowledge to enter a large number of careers. Digital and traditional media is explored while learning visual design and style. Students produce a lot of work throughout education that helps them develop their portfolio.
When training for an accredited associate, bachelor, or master level degree some online courses students can expect to complete may include:
*Principles of Usability
The concepts and terminology of user-concentrated design is studied to establish the needed base for writing. The environment, task, and end result of a document is highly focused on.
Programming languages, network procedures, and database systems are explored in a course like this. Students learn desktop publishing and how to use interface tools for different writing tasks.
*Writing and Editing
Print and online materials are studied so students understand how to correctly write, edit, and document information. The concepts of writing styles, editing standards, style formats, and writing mechanics give students the needed skills to become professionals.
Students that complete accredited technical writing training can become independent consultants, editors, proposal writers, marketing writers, and more. Agencies like the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools ( http://www.acics.org/ ) can fully accredit quality educational programs and schools that offer the best possible education. Begin schooling today and step into a career in the technical writing industry.
DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved by PETAP.org.
If you think about it, we benefit from quality technical writing at every turn. Almost every single product we ever buy, even software, comes with an instruction manual, a sheet with introductory notes at least. Any time you have had to wrestle with a question of how to get something done on a computer program, whenever a catchy How To comes up in a favorite magazine, any time anything like this happens, you benefit from the skills of a qualified technical writer hard at work behind the scenes. Did you ever read a confusing of set-by-step instructions to operate something and think to yourself, "Of course I could have done a better job at this if anyone had asked me"? What exactly do you need going in to ask for employment in technical writing?
Technical writing isn't limited to the design of step-by-step instructions on how to operate something. Some of the best technical writers are engaged to formulate a great course plan for the teaching of technical courses in the classroom. People who develop courseware like this are called instructional designers. Other specialties in the technical writing field include the position of online help expert - a person who develops Help files for software, and hardware technical writer - a designer of complex instruction books for the way high-end industrial machines are operated. The skills needed for successful technical writing grow more complex in step with the complexity of the products they are intended for.
While there are many kinds of the specialties technical writers deal in, there are a few basic common qualifications any technical writing practitioner needs to possess. The first is a great grasp of the language. A technical writer isn't writing poetry; but he sure needs to have the creativity, the insight, to stand in the shoes of a nonexpert. One needs to be able to be able to grasp the language with rock solid sentence structure to be able to get an idea go through. A technical writer also needs left brain thinking to be able to deal with logic in such a way that they were able to show the reader exactly why and how a procedure needs to be performed the way its recommended. And of course, a technical writer needs to be the kind of person who would not mind working a desk job.
As with any kind of writing or other commercially creative jobs, a technical writer needs to be able to take criticism, to be able to follow instructions and to be communicate the ideas he has to a client. With a technical mind, and the creative ability to communicate one's understanding to those with non-technical minds, a career in technical writing is a virtual lock to anyone.
Product, service, and science-based documents are often re-written to make information understandable to consumers. Students that have a passion for words should consider completing a degree program in technical writing. Accredited online colleges and universities offer educational training programs in this field.
In essence, students learn how to accurately document specific writing into an understandable text that everyday consumers can follow. For example, a technical writer would take a medical manual and write a non-jargon based document for readers. Intricate topics are translated after students learn how to correctly and efficiently write in a technical way. Learning can take place inside training programs that traditionally include:
- Associates Degree Programs
- Bachelors Degree Programs
- Masters Degree Programs
A large number of professionals hold a technical writing degree at the associate's level. This introductory level of education teaches students the writing, editing, and layout used inside the profession. The goal of schooling is to prepare students to fully understand how to speak to technical and non-technical individuals. This ability allows students to translate documents and focus them towards the appropriate audience. Learned writing styles include instruction manuals, pamphlets, and press releases. Online degree programs cover word processing software to familiarize students with technical and business writing. Other areas that an associate's degree explores are graphic and web design techniques. Continuing education at the bachelor's degree level gives students the opportunity to specialize in a particular area.
The technical aspects of these areas are examined as students learn the mechanics of writing at the bachelor's degree level. A solid foundation is obtained as student's study computer-based and scientific communication. Internet, science, print media, and medical writing styles are concentrations available to students. Education will branch out into specializations after students learn key areas of the field. General coursework develops skills in areas related to management systems, websites, and the latest used technologies. Bachelors degree programs online offer students a wide knowledge base in reproducing multimedia documents and website based user guides. Continuing education gives students advanced training in technical communication.
The highest level of education is obtainable at the master's degree level. Students should expect to complete upper division courses in areas such as editing and documentation. With more concentrated areas available for study students will have the opportunity to learn about radio, television, and government. Students that complete a degree program at this level enter the field an expert.
Through common courses taken at all levels students have a variety of careers to choose from. Business grammar, Internet writing, science writing, rhetorical theory, and technical design are some general courses students take within a degree program. Educational programs provide students the ability to enter careers as:
- Technical Writers
- Grant Writers
- Independent Consultants
Learning how to correctly translate complex and jargon-based documents into readable text is a skill that can be utilized in a variety of industries. Completing an accredited technical writing degree program is the first step to obtaining a rewarding career. Fully accredited programs can offer the best quality education available. Agencies like the Distance Education and Training Council ( http://www.detc.org/ ) are approved to provide full accreditation to schools and colleges that meet all requirements.
DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved by PETAP.org.
Sitting down to read a training manual or a service report from a large business may not make one bit of sense to consumers. The ability for a person to read a report in understandable terms is a high priority for businesses and other organizations. The skills to take advanced technical language and translate it into an easy to read format can be gained through online schools. Students interested in this type of work can enter degree programs in technical writing.
Technical writing is the process of making hard to understand manuals, documents, and reports easy to read by making the subject matter understandable. Businesses and organizations strive to meet their customers where they're at to promote a higher quality of service. This type of writing can be completed for:
- medical facilities
- government agencies
Students have a wide range of opportunities to choose from when deciding on a degree program. Online programs are available to students that have access to the Internet and computer software. This is important because online programs use these things to communicate with students about homework. It also teaches students how to use the software programs they will use inside the profession.
Online technical writing programs are devoted to showing students how to transcribe complicated topics into layman's terms. Students that are seeking to fulfill the requirements to gain a degree can find numerous colleges that offer programs. Programs can be entered at the:
- Associate level
- Bachelor level
- Master level
These options provide students with the chance to gain a degree at the level that corresponds with their career goals. Education focuses on areas that include electronic document design, editing, and technique.
When students enter an online associate's degree they dive immediately into instruction on writing, editing, and formatting technical documents. Study teaches the ability to speak with both technical and non-technical individuals about industry topics. This is then applied to translating information and promoting the material towards the correct audience. Material focuses on working with all different types of information documents like:
- press releases
Technical editing, Internet writing, grammar, and research are some of the online courses that are completed while studying for an associate's degree.
Students dive into strategy and design within an online bachelor's degree program for technical and computer communications. Study advances to incorporate writing for proposals and grants. Students should expect to develop the capacity to manage a system and write for professionals. Skills are obtained to work with subject matter experts to produce a highly correct piece of writing. Continuing education to earn a master's degree continues to focus strongly on writing for areas like science, government, and technology. Courses could include:
- technical design
- website writing
- editing style
Students can expect to enter this field with the ability to work as writers, editors, and coordinators.
Online schooling is a very proficient way of earning a technical writing degree and entering a career. An accredited degree program can be completely done online allowing students to make the most of their time while still working at their current place of employment. Accrediting agencies like the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools ( http://www.acics.org ) can provide full accreditation to various programs. Accreditation is a schools proof that students will receive the training they need. Start a career in technical writing by enrolling today.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved by PETAP.org.
This article will list 4 advantages and 2 disadvantages behind affiliate marketing, specifically article marketing, and why it is a reasonable way to generate passive income as a technical writer. After finishing this article you should be able to decide whether a technical writing job in affiliate marketing sounds reasonable to you.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part I]
Why a technical writer should consider article marketing
As a technical writer you are already highly skilled in producing instruction-type articles for your reader. Why not combine this skill with the potential of the Internet? There are literally millions of information hungry surfers looking for instructive how-to manuals out there. A technical writer can use his well-honed authorship skills to produce this kind of material, thus generating a passive stream of long-term income.
Here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages behind a technical writing job in article marketing. These will be explained later.
- Wide exposure and the possibility of gaining a fellowship.
- A long term passive income stream.
- Establishing authority with the possibility of being picked up by a publisher.
- Consistent effort is a must before the sales will start to roll in.
- A (no too steep) learning curve is present.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part II]
The first advantage behind applying your technical writing skills to this line of work lies in gaining wide exposure and a possible fellowship. There are many poorly written how-to, instructional manuals out there, a technical writer's professional touch will serve as a refreshing change.
When submitting to an article directory you must agree to an authorship contract, while (depending on the directory of your choice) you might loose the rights to your article, your work will still bare your name and will remain credited to you, allowing you to claim it as your own and thus opening the possibility to a fellowship.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part III]
A long term passive income...
You can generate a long term passive income by offering your expertise on a particular niche. Whatever it is you are knowledgeable about, there is always a market for it. Just ask Google or search around some forums that might interest you and notice the amount of questions being asked. These are the potential topics of your next technical writing job.
You will be able to generate this passive income stream by writing a professionally crafted, instructional article, offering your advice to those who need it, later directing them to a relevant informational (or any other) product of your choice.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part IV]
A sure way to land a technical writing job and to be picked up by a publisher is to gain exposure thorough article writing. Your article will not only receive free search engine traffic but will also gain a chunk of traffic through blog and RSS syndication, once it becomes available at the article directory of your choice.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part IV]
The only real drawback with article marketing is the essential need for consistent effort. One should view article marketing as a long term investment. Payments will be received and will become more and more frequent the longer you stay in the "game" and the more articles you submit to your article directory.
Financial benefits behind article marketing will manifest themselves after a couple of months (2-3 months in general), till then you will have to find another source of income while keeping the writing and submission process active.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part V]
The learning curve...
Being a technical writer, you are already ahead of most who embark on this career path. While this is certainly a benefit, you must consider educating yourself in the ways of internet marketing and research. A successful article marketer is able to identify his competition, research general keywords, optimize his articles for Google ranking and so on. This education is essential to a successful technical writing career in affiliate marketing.
Technical writing job; the means to generate long-term passive income [part VI]
In this article you have learned that:
- A technical writing job in internet marketing can establish a consistent flow of passive income.
- It can gain you a fellowship and a potential publishing contract through wide exposure.
- It requires consistent effort from your side before you can harvest the fruits of your labor.
- You must educate yourself prior to reaping the benefits.
Procedural documentation and manuals are an integral part of industrial training. Similarly, when high-tech products are introduced in the market they have to be packaged along with user manuals that effectively communicate to the customers' optimum usage of the product as also details of trouble shooting. New business systems need to be supported by user assistance manuals and structured training manuals. All these requirements need the services of a good technical writer. The focus of technical writing is to
o analyze and assess audience needs
o design the documents with appropriate words and images
o Test and measure the effectiveness of the information disseminated and make necessary modifications as needed to increase the effectiveness of the communication.
Professional technical writers possess expertise in understanding and analyzing technical information and presenting a quality document that can be easily understood. They are able to structure complex technical information in a user friendly manner. They also gauge what information is critical for the reader - the most important being how to use the product efficiently rather than details of how or why it works. Writers with engineering and technical backgrounds who can comfortably interact with engineers and technicians are ideally well suited to handle technical writing projects.
However the cost of employing full time in-house technical writers is substantial and includes not just the salary but also insurance and paid leave, apart from office space and supplies. The cost incurred on a full-time writer is often not justified given the varying work load. As an alternative, very often companies delegate the task of writing operating manuals to their in-house engineers who may not be comfortable with the written word and may not even be motivated as they prefer to be hands on engineers.
The Solution - Get a Team of Experts at Half the Cost
The ultimate aim of technical communication is to explain, train, and teach through well made documents. This means that the writers must have sound technical knowledge and strong language skills. In addition they also require two important attributes - discipline and consistency. These are skills and attributes that offshore professional technical writing firms thrive on. The end objective of any technical document be it an online help document, a printed manual or a downloadable PDF file, is effective communication to the end customer. Offshore technical writing teams are well equipped to design textual and visual content for concise and clean technical communication delivering exceptional results at extremely competitive rates.
You retain Full Control
When technical writing services are outsourced, you are paying only for the end product. You also have more control over an outsourced technical writing team than in-house employees. Moreover these professional technical writing firms offer trial documentation before the actual offshore process is initiated. This ensures you have complete control over quality and time lines.
Your developers can focus on their core skills
Developers are not necessarily good writers. A trained technical writer is well qualified to extract essential knowledge and present it using the appropriate tone in a language that will be understood by the specific audience using the product.
The Net Value Addition
On off shoring your technical writing tasks to a dedicated, professional team with the necessary expertise and equipment, you will be able to get technical documentation done in a time-bound, cost-effective manner. As engineering and software firms work on tight schedules, outsourcing technical documentation tasks increases their overall productivity.
There are quite a few certificate programs offered in the United States by different universities for those just starting out and considering Technical Writing as a career. In my honest opinion, a certificate is not necessary to make it in the technical communication field but it does not hurt either, especially if your resume does not include a list of prior tech writing jobs.
Brooklyn College is an educational institution that you can certainly consider if you'd like to earn a certificate in Technical Writing before you apply for a related job. Perhaps it's not one of the biggest schools around but they offer a dedicated program made up of continuing-education courses.
To be eligible for the certificate, the students must take 8 classes, each $355 (at this writing) and each lasting 8 weeks. The whole program costs $2840.
Here are the full curriculum of Technical Writing classes at Brooklyn College:
TW100: Grammar, Usage, Mechanics for Technical Writers
TW101: Technical Writing Fundamentals
TW102: Graphics for Technical Writers
TW103: User Guides and FrameMaker
TW104: Technical Documentation with XHTML and CSS
TW105: Online Helps and RoboHELP
TW106: Researched Technical Reports and Proposals
TW108: Technical Editing
TW109 User Guides with Microsoft Word
TW110: Starting a Technical-Writing Career
TW113: Business Communications
TW999: Special Topics in Technical Communication
This is a very practical hands-on program that teaches real-life skills which a technical writer can start to apply right away. Their FrameMaker class is one such offering that you can put to good use since a lot of technical writing teams use FrameMaker to generate and single-source documents.
Another thing I like about Brooklyn College's program is the way they present the portfolios of their former students. That way you can see what the program actually does and how various students have benefitted from studying at BC. I think that's actually a brilliant idea that all other certificate programs should emulate since it builds trust on the part of the prospective applicants.
Check out BC's certificate program web site which offers good tutorials and full course descriptions as well. Google for "Brooklyn College Technical Writing Certificate Program."
There are a number of books, programs, and classes out there today offering to teach "technical writing." Some of these are excellent; prepared by industry veterans who know what they're doing. But some others are basically rehashing old "business writing" concepts and techniques under the guise of "technical writing."
"So what?" you may ask, which is a fair question. And here is the answer: if you are seriously considering to go out there and find yourself a job as a "technical writer" then you need to have at least one technical document prepared according to industry standards and expectations. Business writing in general will of course help you communicate better and conduct your business more efficiently. That's why it's a good thing. But when it comes to finding a technical writing job, business writing won't help you much. No recruiter will accept a business writing sample as a proof of your technical writing skills, especially in the hi-tech sector where I've been working for over 10 years now.
Business writing is all kinds of copy generated to administer, communicate with and control others in a work environment. It covers all office communications, and topics like how to write a memo; how to write an e-mail; how to prepare a report; how to write meeting minutes; all kinds of business letters, etc.
While helpful, such knowledge will not be enough to find a job in the highly competitive field of modern technical communications. Instead, what you need to learn is the kind of documentation generated every day in such hi-tech industries as software, hardware, networking, telecommunications, manufacturing, chemicals, finance, defense, etc.
Does your instructor help you learn what a "scope" document is, for example, and how it is written? How do you prepare and write "release notes"? What's the crucial difference between an "interface guide" and a "procedural guide"? Do you know how to write a QCP for a defense contractor?
There are many other similar topics that a beginner needs to learn to prepare him or herself for a great career in technical writing. Once you know the crucial difference between "business writing" and "technical writing," you can make a better decision as to which questions to ask before buying a technical writing book or registering in a technical writing program. That way you won't waste your time, money and energy on a product or a program that won't help you reach your main goal. As always the case, knowledge is power in this particular issue as well.
There are 4 different goals of writing, depending on the writer and assignment in question.
Writers try to
3) move, or
4) administer others.
And these goals give rise to the following 4 different types of writing:
1) Copy writing (sell)
2) Technical writing (teach)
3) Fiction/Creative writing (move)
4) Business writing (administer).
Copy writing tries to sell products and services, as the advertisement-legend David Ogilvie always (and rightfully) maintained. And I agree with him. Until and unless someone buys something, copy writing is not good for anything.
Technical writing, on the other hand, is an answer to the basic question of HOW.
But in order for technical writing to explain the "how" of anything, there first has to be a clear definition of its "WHAT" and "WHY". Without that pre-requisite step, your technical writing can easily get lost in the woods.
This is usually expressed as the principle of knowing who "the audience" is.
This is just another way of saying that unless a technical writer is sure of the PURPOSE behind the document, that is, the manner in which the users will use the document to PERFORM certain tasks, then just explaining how something is done, may or may not get the job done.
Because there is always more than one way to describe the HOW of anything.
For example, imagine you are asked to write a technical guide on the HOW of running; a "User's Guide to Running."
If as a technical writer you immediately pull up your sleeves and start writing i, you might be in for a big trouble.
Let's say you devote chapters on strength and speed training, without ever thinking WHAT this guide is supposed to achieve, for WHAT kind of an audience.
What if it turns out that you were actually asked to write this guide for runners over 50 years old, who could care less about "strength" and "speed" but are keen about "losing weight"? That of course would require a totally different sort of technical guide, wouldn't it?
Copy writing excels as long as people buy the product; period.
Technical writing, on the other hand, excels only when the description of HOW matches the PERFORMANCE GOAL of the project's AUDIENCE (or, the project's "WHAT" and "WHY").
Enrolling in a college-level certification program in Technical Writing might be time consuming and not that cheap either but it's an idea you might certainly consider. There are some excellent certificate programs offered by different universities in the United States if you are just starting out in your career.
Oklahoma State University (OSU)'s Technical Writing Program is one of the best available in the United States since its early beginnings back in 1977. The students get an BA, MA or Ph.D. degree, which are actually English degrees "with a specialization in Technical Writing."
The OSU program boasts 5 lecturers, an Assistant Director, a Visiting Assistant Professor and Coordinator, and a full Program Director and Professor of Technical Writing.
The students learn how to write technical reports, write web site content, write manuals, tutorials, and résumés, conduct field interviews. The program exposes "students to the tools and time demands they will face in the profession" Plus "in this program, students can expect to hear expert speakers and get plenty of hands-on learning."
Here are some of the B.A. level courses offered at OSU (all 3 credits):
English 3223 -- Technical Communication Criticism & Theory
English 3323 -- Technical Writing
English 4523 -- Technical Writing Internship
English 4533 -- Advanced Technical Writing
English 4543 -- Technical Editing
M.A. level courses include:
ENGL 5513 -- Introduction to Technical Communication
ENGL 5520 -- Internship in Technical Writing (6 credits)
ENGL 5593 -- Technical Style and Editing
If I were a high school graduate today looking for a college program to attend for a technical communication career, I'd definitely give the OSU program an honest thought.
Freelance technical writing is definitely a gold mine in terms of excellent income, especially since the demand is sky high and there are very few writers to do the work. If you are looking for a suitable niche for you to focus on, then technical writing could be for you. There are many other freelance writing opportunities available today and you need to consider many aspects before specializing in freelance technical writing. You should scrutinize the myriad freelance writing opportunities to be sure you know your options. Even if you are a good writer, that doesn't mean you'll be good at technical writing. As a general guideline, you should get into freelance technical writing only if you completely understand what you can expect from your projects.
The first step is to analyze your writing style, personality traits and abilities in all honesty. If you are a creative person, you will have a very difficult time trying to write technical material. Technical writing is scientific, accurate and fact-based, with no space for opinions or flowery writing. If you take up freelance technical writing, be prepared to write lots of factual material. Technical writing projects are often in relation to user manuals, installation guides, policies and procedures, requirements documentation, reports, white papers, reference documents, contracts, business proposals etc.
While other freelance writing opportunities present lots of creative freedom, technical writing will always be technical. You will spend 70% of your time on research. Hunting for data in lengthy reports, interviewing people from the relevant technical communities and spending hours accessing databases in search of information are all part of a technical writer's job. You might even have to do a lot of leg work, which will depend on the particular assignment. You have to be clear and 100% certain of your sources. Freelance technical writing can be very laborious, and if you are not willing to go the extra mile, you shouldn't work on such projects.
Freelance technical writing is a field for those who love a mental challenge. Technical writers are found in industries such as IT, chemistry, healthcare, engineering, consumer electronics, finance, biotechnology, robotics and aerospace. If you're a person blessed with both a tech-savvy character and a flair for writing, you should definitely specialize in freelance technical writing.
"Why should I hire a technical writer? How can a technical writer benefit my business?"
Knowing the answer to these questions is crucial to develop your technical writing career. If you can show your client or employer that hiring you will have a positive impact on the business, then you will multiply your chances of success.
How can a technical writer affect a company's bottom line? Let's take a look.
1. Satisfied customers bring in more sales
The product documents you create such as user guides and manuals are part of the product. They should be detail oriented and easy to understand. User guides and manuals should make life easier for the customer.
A well-written user manual explains all the product benefits the customer can enjoy, which results in a satisfied customer. Satisfied customers lead to repeat business, referrals, and more sales.
Conversely, poorly written user guides can frustrate and confuse the customer resulting in a waste of his time. He is unlikely to buy from you in the future and will pass on this information to his family, friends, and business associates.
2. Business documents bring in contracts and projects
Well written RFPs, RFQs, and proposals can lead to new contracts, projects, and sales. As a technical writer, your job is to take costs, schedules, budgets, timelines, and scopes and create winning business documents. But what you can also do is include the benefits the reader of these documents will enjoy. This will increase the success chances of business documents.
3. Automate the customer support process
By creating customer support documents that are thorough and easy to understand, you will reduce the number of calls to the customer or tech support department. Because your documents do such a good job of explaining the process or steps to the customer, the chances of her needing any extra support are reduced.
This can result in significant cost and time savings for the client.
4. Time savings via standardization
By creating standard processes, templates, style guides and document libraries, you are saving your client time. These processes and templates can be used for future projects reducing future development time. Plus, standardization improves the business image because of the consistent use of style, language, and other communication elements.
5. Improve business efficiency and productivity
The documents you create are concise and clear. They remove confusion and create transparency. Both internal and external communication is improved. As a result, the business functions smoothly with increased productivity.
Every business must do two things consistently to thrive: boost sales and manage costs. As a technical writer, you can contribute to both these factors.
Keep the above five things in mind when looking for your next technical writing job or project. Use them when talking to prospective employers and clients. Not only will you increase your value as a technical writer, but you will also increase your chances of success.
It's happened to most of us. It's frustrating, time consuming, and creates a very poor impression. I'm referring to poorly written instructions. These instructions could be about anything such as assembling furniture, operating equipment, or learning software. How many times have we been confused and frustrated by product assembly instructions or user manuals in our daily lives?
One of your goals as a technical writer is to create documents that help the end user accomplish a task. And one technique you should use to improve the usability of your documents is to provide user feedback.
In the world of technical writing, user feedback refers to letting the end user know what to expect after he or she has performed a step in a procedure.
As a technical writer, you must strive to provide feedback to the user at crucial steps in the procedure. By letting the user know what to expect at different steps or stages of a procedure you are making life easier for him or her.
Let's look at an example. The following are five steps on how to navigate through a computer-based training program:
Follow these steps to view the different parts of this training program:
1. Click the Navigation button on the screen
2. To view video tutorials click the Videos button
3. Select the Case Studies button to download case studies
4. Click the Installation History button to see a list of 2007 installations
5. Click the Final Test button to take the final test
Now, let's rewrite these instructions with user feedback:
This training program consists of:
- Four video tutorials
- Six case studies
- A list of 2007 product installations
- A final test
Follow these steps to view the different parts of the training program:
1. Click the Navigation button on the top left part of your screen. This will bring up a Navigation bar on the bottom half of your screen.
2. To view video tutorials click the Videos button the Navigation bar. You will need Adobe Flash Player® to view these tutorials. If you don't have Adobe Flash Player® you can download it by clicking here.
3. Select the Case Studies button from the Navigation bar to download case studies. When you click this button, the Case Studies download will begin and will take approximately seven minutes to complete. The Case Studies will be downloaded to your desktop.
4. Click the Installation History button on the Navigation bar to see a list of 2007 installations.
5. Click the Final Test button on the Navigation bar to take the final test. The Final Test consists of 10 multiple choice questions and is based on the content in this training program. You will need a score of 80% or higher to pass the Final Test.
By providing feedback to the user you let the users know what to expect and are therefore preparing him or her. You are setting the level of expectation.
An easy exercise to become good at writing user feedback is to take a product's manual and rewrite the instructions with user feedback. Compare the original with what you write and evaluate the difference.
Providing user feedback is an often overlooked aspect of technical writing. But it is very important. You can use it to impress prospective clients or when you are looking for technical writing jobs. Let them know you are a strong advocate of providing user feedback. It benefits the end user which is the ultimate goal of every technical writer and every quality driven business.
Technical writing, sometimes called business writing, is writing for a specific purpose and with a specific goal. Usually its goal is to inform/instruct or persuade/argue. Technical writing can really be considered transactional writing because there are two people or groups involved in the communication. One party has a clear goal to inform or persuade the other party. This is real-world writing in every sense. You may not be aware of how much it already impacts your world through textbooks, instructions, web sites, and communications from many businesses and service organizations. There are professional technical communicators but only large organizations have them and even then they are not there to do your daily work for you and that is why it is so helpful for many to take at least an introductory technical writing class.
Why is technical communication important and what will you use it for? Actually, technical writing will be used by most college graduates as a regular part of their work. It is much more likely that you will use technical writing than either academic or creative writing unless you specifically enter those fields. A few examples of why you will likely need these skills include: getting a job - preparing a resume or curriculum vitae, cover letter, application, and portfolio; doing your job - preparing memos, letters, reports, instructions, case reports, reviews, assignments, descriptions, etc.; and keeping your job - communicating with management, co-workers, peers, patients/students/public.
What separates technical communication from other forms of writing, such as academic writing? Technical communication has a specific audience and is purposeful, usually intended to solve a problem for that audience. One area that really sets technical communication apart is that it is quite often collaborative. Technical communication is also focused on readability issues, not only the use of clear writing, but also page design and graphics. The excellence of technical writing is judged by clarity, accuracy, comprehensiveness, accessibility, conciseness, professional appearance, and correctness.
There are seven principles to guide technical writing: remember your purpose (to inform or persuade), remember your audience (their concerns, background, attitude toward your purpose), make your content specific to its purpose and audience, write clearly and precisely (active voice, appropriate language to audience), make good use of visuals (good page design and graphics), and be ethical (truthful, full disclosure, no plagiarizing).
Technical communication serves both explicit, or clear, and implicit, or implied, purposes. Explicit purposes include to provide information, to provide instructions, to persuade the reader to act upon the information, or to enact or prohibit something. Implicit purposes include establishing a relationship, creating trust, establishing credibility, and documenting actions. Most technical communications are based on a problem statement which gives your document a clearly stated objective for your benefit as well as your reader's. The problem statement defines the problem, by doing more than simply stating your topic, it goes on to explain what about that topic is at issue. For example, if your topic is career guidance then your problem could be the fact that many adults need help identifying a career that suits their strengths and abilities and the solution that your document will present is to create a comprehensive clearing house that helps people identify career paths through military, vocational training, and higher education.
"To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is."
Bruce Lee, 1940-1973, Chinese-American Actor, Director, Author, Martial Artist
The Core of Technical Writing
There is one word that lies at the heart of technical writing. It's called simplicity. Part of becoming a good technical writer is to write simply and clearly.
Everything you write should be simple and easy to understand. Don't make life difficult for your target audience. Even when you're writing documents for engineers, keep things simple. I'm not saying don't include technical data, research, diagrams, and charts. Engineers love data. Your goal should be to present this data simply and clearly.
Writing simply is crucial when writing processes and instructions. Think of all the instructions you read when you buy a new product. Some of these are good. Others are confusing. If you confuse the end user, you fail as a technical writer.
Writing simply and clearly is easier said than done. As technical writers, our minds and thoughts are overloaded with information. Some of this information could be complex such as specifications, procedures, best practices, research, case studies, and engineering data. The challenge is to shave off the unnecessary information and only include what's relevant to your target audience.
There is something else which prevents us from writing simply and clearly. It's our individual vocabularies. As writers, there is a natural tendency to use fancy words and flowery language when we write. The key is to remove unnecessary words and phrases from your writing.
How to Write Simply and Clearly
There is no magic formula where you can write simply and clearly overnight. You will have to practice your writing skills. An easy way to start doing this is to take a paragraph of text and rewrite it using fewer words without changing its meaning. Another technique to write simpler is to break down a long complex sentence into two short sentences.
Take a paragraph from a magazine article, an online newsletter, a sales letter, or a brochure and rewrite it. Practice this daily or three to four times a week, and you will see how your writing becomes tighter and simpler. Use the Word Count feature in Microsoft Word or your word processing program to count the original number of words. Then do a Word Count on the paragraph you re-wrote.
Here's an example to get you started:
"Rassouli, the first acupuncturist to practice the technique in Canada, charges C$125 per one-hour session for the treatment, which usually requires 10 to 12 visits. Rassouli has trained more than 500 others practitioners from Canada, the United States, and Australia since 2000. Acupuncture, which has been used for more than 2,000 years, involves stimulating certain points on the body, known as "qi" with needles, heat, and pressure."
Number of words: 67
The above paragraph is not confusing. But let's see if we can reduce the word count without changing the meaning.
Here it is:
"The treatment requires 10 - 12 sessions. Rassouli is the first acupuncturist in Canada to offer it. He charges C$125 per session. Since 2000, Rassouli has trained 500 other practitioners from Canada, United States, and Australia. Acupuncture has been used for more than 2,000 years. It involves stimulating certain body points, called "qi" with needles, heat, and pressure."
Number of words: 57
Keep your writing simple. You will please your target audience and your manager or client. More importantly you will improve as a writer.
He wakes up in the morning and starts a pot of coffee. He then steps outside to grab the newspaper. He scans the headlines briefly, grabs his coffee and gets ready for work. Between showers and shaves he gets his kids ready. All the time with one eye on the clock. He can't be late to work. His shift starts at 9 am sharp.
Traffic's a snarl. Everyone's in a hurry. Somehow he manages to get to work at 8:55 am. He runs to the morning meeting and makes it at 8:59. He grabs a chair and opens a 500 page manual of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane. Wiping sweat of his forehead, he breathes a sigh of relief. He turns to page 167.
Today, his team will change the engine oil of the airplane. He starts reading the procedure. A procedure written by you. The moment of truth for a technical writer is when your target audience starts reading your procedure. If the procedure is easy to follow, then you've passed. If the procedure confuses the target audience, then you've failed.
So the most important person for you when writing your procedures is your target audience. Your target audience is the average Joe with average intelligence. Even if you're writing something for engineers and programmers, keep things simple. We all have a lot of things going on in our lives. A poorly written, difficult procedure is the last thing that anyone needs. As technical writers, it's easy to forget about our target audience when we're sitting in our comfortable office cubes. You write a procedure that you think is easy to follow.
But it's a different world out there. A world where your procedure could be the difference between success and failure. In today's example, I described a technician who works on a 787 Boeing airplane. But let's say you're an oil and gas technical writer, and you write a procedure on how to change a drill bit on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. There's a hurricane approaching and the drill bit has to be changed quickly. There's a lot of pressure and tension. A simple, well written procedure will make things go smoothly. Before writing any procedure, it's a good idea to create a profile of your target audience. Ask people questions.
The more information you can get, the better your procedure will be. The easiest way to get this information is to talk directly to your target audience. By doing this you'll also get a feel of the environment in which your procedure will be used. So remember this golden rule of technical writing: the person who matters most is not your boss or the Subject Matter Expert. It's your end user. Keep this in mind when you write anything as a technical writer.
One question that creeps up into the minds of technical writers is "Do I need to know graphic design to be a successful technical writer?" The short answer is no. Your job is pure technical writing and that's what you should focus on. But a little bit of layout knowledge will help you in your technical writing career. This is one of those instances when a little bit of knowledge is worth more to you in the long run.
If you're working as a technical writer for a major corporation then chances are that there will be a designer on staff. You will be focused on technical writing. When you're done with your part you will hand off your work to the designer who will do the graphic designing.
But if you're working for a small company or are a freelancer then basic graphic design knowledge is a plus. If you're working for a small company then you could be performing multiple roles. For example you could be writing the manual for the company's product line. When you take the completed manual to your manager, he tells you to insert company logos, photographs and illustrations.
You go back and do as you're told. This is very common in small companies.
Now you could have told your manager that inserting company logos and illustrations is not your area of expertise and you don't have the skills to do it. Nothing wrong with telling your manager the truth. But if you do possess basic layout skills and are willing to do the extra work, that's an added benefit you provide. And in the eyes of your manager you just increased your value to the organization.
The same applies if you're a freelancer. If you can provide your client a complete package including technical writing and some basic layout design, you can charge more for your services. You should let the client know up front that you can provide this extra service. From the client's perspective, he or she does not have to worry about finding a graphic designer. You provide him or her with one stop shopping.
Of course, this all depends on how simple or complex the project is. If it involves developing high detail graphics with special software then you need a graphic designer. As technical writers, we don't have the expertise for high end design work.
How much of graphic design should you know?
You need to know some of the basics like how much white space you should use, basic formatting options, and complementary color theory. You could get a book and learn the basics. If you have some basic knowledge of software applications like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator that's even better. But these are not necessary.
Don't shift your focus from technical writing. Focus on your strengths. If you have some spare time, then, and only then, should you consider learning some basic layout design. If not, don't worry about it. Over time you will automatically develop an instinct for good design.
If you are considering a career in technical writing, chances are you have heard it is a great way for English or Journalism majors to earn a solid paycheck. The field does indeed offer great pay compared to many entry-level jobs available to liberal arts majors. Also, a professional technical communications career can provide a path to other lucrative fields. Writing manuals develops your communication and project management skills; both of which are essential to most professional careers.
Year after year, the salary surveys provided by organizations such as the Society for Technical Communication show strong earnings potential for writers who work in technical fields. These writers spend their days writing training manuals, user guides, user assistance topics, procedures, and other related materials. At times the technical subject matter can be demanding, and writers with strong computer skills or knowledge of engineering or science will have an advantage. However, many technical writers find success by combining strong writing skills with the ability to interview subject matter experts and gather the technical details from others.
While the technical writing field grew during the dot-com era and declined a bit after the technology market slumped, the future of the field looks bright. More and more technology is finding its way into the hands of consumers. Each gadget, software product, etc. requires instructions that teach consumers how to use the product. Also, technology is becoming more advanced, and products that were once simple now require detailed instructions for users to implement them successfully.
A liberal arts major with strong writing skills should definitely consider the technical writing field. Writers can later leverage their skills to move into product management, marketing, programming, and other careers.
If you are interested in technical writing, attend some of the Society for Technical Communications meetings to get a feel for what technical writers do. Talk to as many writers as you can; you will likely find them very friendly and helpful. Also, contact the English department at your local university and ask if they have technical writing courses. The instructors for these courses can offer a lot of information and provide valuable contacts that could help land your first job.
Whether you enjoy writing, editing, science, or computers, chances are you will find a professional technical writing career fulfilling. If you can find a job at a company that keeps pace with the changing technical marketplace, you will learn and grow through the many projects you take on. This growth and change will keep you from getting bored and offer you the opportunity to complete some impressive projects. Over time, you should find your salary and your resume growing sufficiently to please both you and your employers.
So, what are you waiting for? Start looking into technical writing today. You will not likely be disappointed.
The explosion of technology and the pace at which businesses, industries, and even average consumers are adopting it has fostered the development of technical writing courses. There has never before been a time when so many people were using intricate technology that they do not understand. Writers are needed who can explain how things function and how they are used - people with excellent writing skills and a gift for communicating complex ideas to others. If you enjoy writing and you are good at explaining things to people with less knowledge than you, you will probably make an excellent technical writer.
Technical writing training often focuses on writing specifications and user manuals for computer software; however, this is just one aspect of the profession. Technical writers also write manuals for household technology - kitchen appliances, laundry appliances, vacuum systems - or construction equipment, vehicle user manuals, medical device manuals, detailed procedures for medical tests, or any of the other technical products and procedures so prevalent in our lives. Think about which of these areas interests you the most and when you are evaluating technical writing courses, look for the ones that will cover the subjects you want to pursue.
Most of us have had experiences with user manuals that either don't give us the information we're looking for, or don't clearly explain some process or procedure that we need to understand. Most of us have shaken our heads over material that is poorly organized, poorly written, or poorly translated from another language. This is why there is a growing need for graduates of technical writing courses who can produce good documentation. If you are already a good communicator, technical writing training will give you the polish you need to turn you into an excellent communicator.
There are some good technical writing courses available online; indeed, the personal computer is unsurpassed as a writing tool and the internet supplies the communication abilities that make online education an excellent venue for this type of learning. The best technical writing training is offered by universities with accredited online programs. Successful students earn university degrees in technical writing that will give them a great base for a successful career.
Technical writers in the United States earn between 33,000 and 88,000 annually: graduates of technical writing courses tend to earn slightly more in some of the northeastern states and in California and Hawaii. Technical writing training also puts you at the front of the line for the best jobs, ahead of candidates who have not specialized in this form of written communication. If you think you'd like to pursue a career in technical writing, it's worth investigating the education options and requesting information from schools that offer this type of program.
Salary stats were taken from America's Career InfoNet.
Technical writers are earning big bucks while enjoying the luxury of working at home. If you're put off by the word 'technical', don't slam the door to a lucrative opportunity. As long as you can string your grammar correctly, you can start a new writing adventure.
What is Technical Writing?
When you buy technical gizmo, you always have to read the manual that explains how to operate or set-up a system. It is specifically written for end-users so they can understand how the details work together. If you can't make heads or tails of the instructional manual, then you're reading poorly written or highly technical stuff. Technical writers come to the rescue, inspired by a bottomless pit of vocabulary suited to the material.
The word 'technical' does not always refer to technology; rather, it refers to a skill. This type of writing is putting together information in a logical and coherent discussion. The aim is to inform, not amuse. Instead, you have to observe processes and operations to be able to provide accurate information. You have to show how it is done.
Engineering, surveying, medical, architectural, and software firms require technical writing experts to help them explain away their products. What used to be the domain of technical geeks is now the realm of writers who can fuse creativity and technology into one dynamic package. And the pay is way beyond the ordinary paycheck you get every payday.
How to create a niche in this elite circle? Well, for starters, you have to love gizmos. If you're not a techno fan, you still have hope by learning the basics. If you want to write about software or computers, you can sign up at the nearest computer school and learn the basics about software and computers. Technical writing has its own vocabulary and there is no excuse for sloppy writing if you want to earn a fat paycheck.
Tools of the Trade
Before hopping into an assignment, make sure you have the tools of the trade. Get a copy of 'Strunk and White Elements of Style' to help make your writing crisp, clear, and tight. The usual jargon cannot be used. Instead, get to know the technical jargon involved in different requirements. Brush up on your active voice to make the manual easier to understand.
You may be working with a graphic artist, or if you know how to do it, the better for you. You can rely on software to help you with your technical writing when working for a small company.
If you want to get into technical writing, you have to be a keen observer to explain logical problems. It takes awhile before you can finish your paper because you will have to be repeating the processes to have more angles in explaining things to the reader.
Technical writing courses are available online. With a certification to back your qualification, companies will be willing to hire you. You can always request to do your work online, miles away from the company, if they can send over the gadget you will write about. But for sensitive projects, you have to go to the site.
Technical writing is the new wave of writing. More writers are seeing the glimmer at the end of the tunnel and hopes are high that writing skills can pay far better than the 8 hours you put in as an employee. Interested?