Tech Writing

Who is a Technical Writer? How to become one (2022)

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A technical writer is highly-sought in the tech industry because technical writing is a valuable skill and a high-paying skill also, either for freelancing or side hustle. It is crucial for anyone working in a tech-related business or if you love working full-time as a writer.

If you love writing and technology, you’re on the right track to becoming a technical writer.

This article is part of our Technical Writing Series, you can read the previous series before you jump to this one.

  • What is Technical Writing?: We explored technical writing in-depth and get you started creating your first technical content.
  • Who is a Technical Writer?: We explore who a technical writer is, the different types of technical writers, and the different skillset required to become a technical writer.
  • Types of Technical Writing: We broke down technical writing into 3 broad types and discuss in detail these different types and how to choose a specific category.
  • Technical Writing Niches: We explored the different technical writing niches or types of technical content you can specialize in as a technical writer and produce.
  • The Technical Writing Process: We will explore the lean technical writing process that will help you create high-quality technical content consistently.
  • How to Become a Good Technical Writer? We discussed the factors you need to make you stand out and become a good technical writer.

In this series, we will explore who a technical writer is, the different types of technical writers, and the different skillset required to become a technical writer.

Who is a Technical Writer?

A Technical writer is a skilled wordsmith that converts complex technical information into easily readable content. This technical content can be in form of documentation, whitepapers, Howtos, user guides, manuals, blog posts, etc.

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There are different types of technical writers based on the type of content that they produce. In the next section, we are going to explain the two major types.

Type of Technical Writers

There are different types of technical writers based on the following criteria job title, type of content, etc.

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But we will group them into two broad types viz:

  1. Staff Technical Writer
  2. Freelance Technical Writer

Staff Technical Writer

The umbrella houses all the technical writers working in a company as a staff. No matter the different job titles or seniority positions. This set of technical writers focuses more on creating technical content for the specific company they are working with.

The type of content they create includes documentation, howtos, user guides and manuals, instructions, technical blogpost, Product Requirement Documents(PRD), etc.

Freelance Technical Writer

Freelance technical writers focus more on creating technical content for clients as either contract base or one-time payment.

They can also create different types of content such as documentation, whitepapers, manuals, step-by-step how-to guides, and technical blogposts but the difference is that they manage their business and processes.

However, you need to understand what technical writers really do in their day-to-day careers.

What does a technical writer do?

A technical writer is responsible for creating content. These technical content can range from journal articles, technical and instructional manuals, and training guides, to assessments.

Despite the different titles a technical writer can have such as tech writer, technical communicator, etc. They all produce technical content or manage other technical writers. 

Additionally, the type of technical content produced may differ based on the focused niche or based on the company’s requirements.

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However, as part of enhancing the end-users experience with the products, technical writers sometimes work with product liability specialists, customer service managers, and user experience experts to enhance the quality of their content.

Next, we will explore the skills you should have to become a technical writer. This will give you insight into how to become a technical writer.

Technical Writer Skillset?

Technical writing cut through different fields of study such as Technical Communication, Engineering, and Computer Science. Therefore, there are many skills you should have to become a technical writer and it is summarized into 2 broad categories.

Writing Skills

The most important skill of a technical writer is learning how to communicate effectively through writing. 

The main duty of a technical writer is to explain complex technical terms to readable content or documentation which is the most important factor that determines you as a good technical writer.

Therefore, a technical writer needs to learn how to convey meaning through writing, and how to structure technical content with proper punctuation, tenses, voices, etc that convey meaning to the target audience.

Technological Skills

To become a technical writer requires a certain skill and domain knowledge in technology.

You can either know any of these fields or any field not listed below that is related to technology in general.

  1. Software engineering
  2. Product manager
  3. Project manager
  4. QA engineers
  5. Data and business analysts
  6. Product designers.

If you have domain knowledge in the above technological path listed above, it may accelerate your learning process in becoming a technical writer.

Nevertheless, becoming a technical writer does not ultimately depend on your knowledge of technologies as everything is learnable.

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As stated above, the main duty of a technical writer is to explain complex technical terms to readable content or documentation which is the most important factor that determines you as a good technical writer.

Therefore, learning or knowing how to write and structure your content to explain complex technical terms in the simplest form possible becomes the most sought-after skill of a technical writer?

So anyone without any of the above domain knowledge can become a technical writer provided they know how to write and are willing to learn along the journey.

So now that you know that skillsets are needed. In the next article series, We will explore how to become a good technical writer and the factors that make you stand out.

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