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Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services 6 Most technical writers work in offices. They routinely work with engineers and other technology experts to manage the flow of information throughout an organization.
Although most technical writers are employed directly by the companies that use their services, some work on a freelance basis and are paid per assignment. Either they are self-employed, or they work for a technical consulting firm and are given specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing about a new product or coordinating the work and communication among different offices to keep a project on track.
Technical writing jobs are usually concentrated in locations with information technology or scientific and technical research companies, such as California and Texas.
Work Schedules Technical writers may be expected to work evenings and weekends to coordinate with those in other time zones or to meet deadlines. Most work full time. Education and Training A college degree is usually required for a position as a technical writer.
In addition, experience with a technical subject, such as computer science, Web design, or engineering, is important. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine.
Web design experience also is helpful because of the growing use of online technical documentation. Work Experience Some technical writers begin their careers not as writers, but as specialists or research assistants in a technical field.
By developing technical communication skills, they eventually assume primary responsibilities for technical writing. In small firms, beginning technical writers may work on projects right away; in larger companies with more standard procedures, beginners may observe experienced technical writers and interact with specialists before being assigned projects.
Training Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing. Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offers certification for technical writers.
In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing.
These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and allied scientific communication fields. Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers.
Advancement Prospects for advancement generally include working on more complex projects and leading or training junior staff. Some technical writers become self-employed and produce work on a freelance basis.
Personality and Interests Technical writers typically have an interest in the Thinking, Creating and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws.
The Creating interest area indicates a focus on being original and imaginative, and working with artistic media. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Thinking or Creating or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a technical writer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Technical writers should also possess the following specific qualities: Technical writers must be able to take complex, technical information and translate it for colleagues and consumers who have nontechnical backgrounds. Technical writers create detailed instructions for others to follow.
As a result, they must be detailed and precise at every step so that the instructions can be useful. Technical writers must be able to think about a procedure or product in the way that a person without technical experience would think about it.
Technical writers must be able to work well with others. They are almost always part of a team: Technical writers must be able to understand and then explain highly technical information. Many technical writers need a background in engineering or computer science in order to do this. Technical communicators must have excellent writing skills to be able to explain technical information clearly.
The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. In Maythe median annual wages for technical writers in the top four industries in which these writers worked were as follows: Information Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services Professional, scientific, and technical services 66, Manufacturing 64, Technical writers may be expected to work evenings and weekends to coordinate with those in other time zones or to meet deadlines.
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