Standing in a digital world that is driven by technology, people in all technology-related fields see good career opportunities. Since we cannot assume that every user of a technological product or service is a tech-savvy individual, companies need to release user guides and detailed documentation with every tech product that they introduce.
The essence of such documents is to explain the complex features and their utility to the customers in layman’s terms.
These documents are important in the customer’s decision-making process when they get down to choosing a product over the others in the market. Technical writers are responsible for writing such manuals and instructional documents.
If you are looking to build a career as a technical writer, then you need to be ready to walk the extra mile. The high pay and intellectual satisfaction associated with the job ensure that there are a lot of people contending for every such job post.
Given below are tips that you can follow to make your mark despite the competition and pursue a career as a technical writer.
Get the Academic Qualifications
Different organizations have different academic pre-requisites from its technical writers, and while some may want people with an associate degree, others seek a bachelor’s degree.
If you are sure about a career in this field, then try to get a bachelor’s degree in technical communication, journalism, or scientific writing.
Although most organizations are open to having candidates from any discipline as technical writers, people qualified in the field have an edge in the rat race for getting a job as a technical writer.
Understanding the basics of any specific industry such as data science, engineering, medicine, or computer science will be an added advantage.
Work on Your Skill Development
While it is important to have the academic qualifications, possessing the appropriate skills is an essential element of becoming a technical writer. Work on your written communication skills and practice designing content, outlining, and editing.
These skills come with practice, and the more you work on them, the better will be your quality of work.
Further, you can consider taking up an online technical writing certification to have a basic understanding of the complex terminology associated with the world of technical writing.
In recent years, there is a surge in online websites and platforms that need technical writing. Having a basic understanding of web design will allow you to do justice to such job roles.
Identify Your Niche of Expertise
Today’s world is one of super-specialization, and a potential employer would expect you to have an area of specialization. Rather, when an employer has multiple candidates, they would prefer going for someone who has expertise in the area they are looking to employ.
Start by identifying a niche you see yourself working in and build your knowledge of the field.
Every genre has a tone and style, and choosing a niche will help you familiarise yourself with such details. That way, you can practice the application of such techniques when working on open-source projects or academic assignments.
Once you decide upon your niche, you can choose a mentor who will then guide you towards improving your technical writing skills.
Create a Portfolio of Your Samples
Despite the educational pre-requisites, you must remember that technical writing is essentially a creative field, and your expertise has the highest weightage when you get down to job hunting. Start by offering to take up small projects for free from your friends and acquaintances.
Give each such project your best shot and document it well. You can then use such samples as evidence of work to a potential customer. Samples of real-life professional technical projects are an excellent way of demonstrating one’s technical and written communication skills.
Work on Your Networking Skills
You will be shocked to learn about the role of referrals and professional networking in landing lucrative technical writing jobs in the industry. Start by joining professional organizations for technical writers who are expected to have professionals from the world of science, IT, and medicine.
If you attend any technical writing certification, you should consider keeping in touch with your peers and instructors.
Such association contacts will help you find open-source projects to contribute to. These will help you build your portfolio that will get you a better job.
Similarly, professional acquaintances are more likely to approach you when they need a software manual for their product. This increases your chances of getting freelance technical writing jobs as well.
Keep Your Industry Knowledge Updated
Technical writing is a highly dynamic field, and things here are changing by the minute. As a technical writer, you need to make conscious efforts to keep up with the latest industry trends and know about the latest medical and technological advances.
For someone keen to begin their career as a technical writer, it is important to have a basic understanding of the technical advancements of all the sectors.
Later, as you join a particular sector (such as medical, IT, or DevOps), you will be expected to have a detailed understanding of the advancements that are relevant to your industrial area. Failure to keep up with the latest trends will cause your skills to become obsolete, thereby bringing down your employability.
Create Content for Other Technical Writers
In any field, teaching others helps to improve one’s conceptual understanding, and tech writing is a non-exception to this. Irrespective of whether you are experienced in technical writing and are looking to make a career switch or if you are a fresher looking to begin your journey, sharing your knowledge with others is a smart move.
Try to come up with short videos illustrating the topic you want to cover. Not only will this improve your understanding of the core concepts, but it will also cast a good impression on the interview panel looking to employ you.
With these seven tips, you are now ready to begin an illustrious career in the world of tech writing. As you look forward to climbing the ladder of professional success, the tips discussed in this article will continue to be a lifelong friend.