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Career Profile: Technical Writer

Why Is Technical Writing a Job of Tomorrow?
Technology has pervaded every aspect of modern life. It has largely replaced cash with credit cards that can draw funds electronically from bank accounts, replaced beepers with handheld mobile phones that can not only instantly connect callers, but also act as a tiny web browser and gaming system, and pushed globalization into overdrive through the World Wide Web. The technological boom has not been confined to just personal gadgets. Advances have taken place in every sector of technology, including aerospace, biomedical, and the automotive industry. With so many different aspects to the technology field, an outsider trying to gain perspective into the complex language of technology may be left confused and lost. Technical writers help to eliminate the technical jargon and bring science, engineering, and technology to the understanding of the masses. With so many new developments happening, the need for technical writers to translate the science into everyday understanding is rapidly rising. Employment opportunities for technical writers are expected to grow 20 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary of technical writers is $58,050 annually.

What Does a Technical Writer Do?
Technical writers take complex technical topics and write about them in a simple manner so that those without an in depth educational background in technology can understand. These writers typically write the content for instructional manuals on electronics, troubleshooting guides, assembly instructions, and online “help” forums. Technical writing merges writing with science, and writers must possess a clear understanding of computer science, engineering, and other science fields as well as the skills of a writer in order to produce the best possible material. Many writers work with engineers and write the reports for the engineers regarding the projects that are being developed. Those who prepare manuals are typically also responsible for the presentation, illustrations, and diagrams in the manual as well.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Technical Writer?
Technical writers typically must have at least a bachelor’s level degree in journalism, English, or computer science. A bachelor’s level degree generally takes four years to earn. A journalism degree program covers research methods and writing methodology. An English degree program covers writing development and literature. A computer science degree program covers computer languages and network analysis. With all three educational options, prospective technical writers must also prove that they are capable of writing clearly and authoritatively on technology. Writers should write as often as possible, building up their resume with writing samples to show to potential employers.

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