Job Profile: Technical Writer
Explaining complex technologies in a simple way. This is the challenge that faces today's technical writers. A technical writer produces various forms of documentation, including instruction books, user guides, repair manuals, catalogues, brochures, policy guides, and handbooks, among others. These may be in either text-only format or accompanied by graphics and multimedia enhancements. Technical writers are hired for what they know as much as they are for their writing prowess. Consequently, many of them have extensive knowledge in broad IT areas like the Internet, consumer electronics, hardware, etc. Top earning technical writers also have knowledge of specialized software packages such as FrameMaker, PageMaker, and QuarkXPress; online and offline layout and design experience; and proficiency in HTML, Java, or another programming language. To stay on top of the game, savvy tech writers keep up with the constantly shifting tech market by continually updating their skills.
Contrary to popular belief, a technical writer is more apt to be a tech expert than a word lover. In fact, English majors who are looking for high-paying IT jobs that will also feed their souls won't necessarily be happy as tech writers. Poetic license always takes a back seat to accuracy and conciseness. There is no typical career path for technical writing. A history of programming or other IT work becomes technical writers since many companies live by the motto: "Write about what you know." Nevertheless, non-techies an learn the tricks of the trade by taking a few technical writing classes or earning certification in the field. Regardless of professional background, all technical writers will need to furnish writing portfolios. These usually contain technical writing samples, desktop publishing samples, feature articles that have been published, letters of recommendation, references, and a professional resume.