A Career in Technical Writing - What Does It Take?

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.