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.