Technical Writers

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Also known as:
Assembly Instructions Writer, Documentation Writer, Engineering Writer, Handbook Writer, Medical Writer, Specifications Writer, Technical Communicator, Technical Writer

ABOUT TECHNICAL WRITER CAREERS
Video transcript

Do you like to explain how things work? That's often what a technical writer does. It is very important to be able to write clearly and simply. This is a job that usually requires a college degree in the liberal arts, especially majors in communications, journalism, and English. It also helps if you have training in the field for which you'll be writing. For example, technical writers who describe how to operate equipment can benefit from a background in engineering.

When you read operating or maintenance manuals, catalogues, assembly instructions, product descriptions, and other materials meant to inform and educate, you're reading the work of a technical writer. A technical writer is, in a way, a translator. He or she translates scientific, medical or other complex information into easily understandable language.

Technical writing is a skill you can take anywhere. They are employed throughout the country, with the most jobs being available in the Northeast, Texas, and California. With rapid growth in technology and electronics, demand for the services of technical writers should continue to rise, especially for people who are comfortable with changing technology.

SNAPSHOT
Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Develop or maintain online help documentation.

Confer with customer representatives, vendors, plant executives, or publisher to establish technical specifications and to determine subject material to be developed for publication.

Observe production, developmental, and experimental activities to determine operating procedure and detail.

Review manufacturer's and trade catalogs, drawings and other data relative to operation, maintenance, and service of equipment.

Study drawings, specifications, mockups, and product samples to integrate and delineate technology, operating procedure, and production sequence and detail.

Select photographs, drawings, sketches, diagrams, and charts to illustrate material.

Draw sketches to illustrate specified materials or assembly sequence.

Review published materials and recommend revisions or changes in scope, format, content, and methods of reproduction and binding.

Interview production and engineering personnel and read journals and other material to become familiar with product technologies and production methods.

Analyze developments in specific field to determine need for revisions in previously published materials and development of new material.

Assist in laying out material for publication.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
TOP SKILLS
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.