The 4-Step, Tried and Tested Strategy for becoming a Technical Writer
Anything related to technology will never die out completely, even writing. Whether it’s a new software application or a new product introduced in the market, there has to be some accompanying documentation and the experts to create this piece of documentation are none other than technical writers.
A master’s in English Literature or a Doctorate in Computer Science won’t always make a successful tech writer out of you. If you wish to become a technical writer with the most relevant qualifications, read on to discover how you can help unfold your career in technical writing.
Step 1: Make your Basic Strong
There are two areas we mean to talk about when we say ‘basics’. The first one is the basic skills in technology and second are the basic skills in English writing and grammar.
Basic Technical Skills
Are you aware of the basic of how a computer and network system works? Do you know how a software functions and what are the hardware and software components of a computer system? If yes, then your technical basics are strong. If not, a course or certificate program in computer science or software design from an accredited online school can be a great first step.
Basic English Writing Skills
Everybody can write, but not everybody can write well. Technical writing requires a certain style of writing that even creative writers tend to struggle with. First of all, there is active rather than passive voice involved. Secondly, the messages sent across have to be direct, short, sweet and to-the-point. If your basics in grammar are strong, you can master this skill with some practice and experience. But if you don’t what the active or passive voice is to start off with, then a program or course in English Communication and Writing is in order!
Step 2: Now get the Education
Once you feel confident about your basics, it’s time to work on your qualifications. A college degree is the industry standard for technical writers today, and that’s what employers will look for in you as a potential candidate. Journalism, English and Communication are common majors pursued by writers, while a know-how of computer science, software development, or a technical field such as engineering is always a plus.
Step 3: Know the Industry
Till now, we have only focused on what you can do passively by pursuing the right education, getting trained through the right courses, etc. There’s something more you can do by getting to know the industry more closely.
Some of the areas you must work on include:
- Study technical writing samples that you come across, making sure to read those written by experienced writers
- Get trained by a seasoned technical writing professional. Many technical writers who are currently working also work as faculty at accredited online schools and at renowned colleges. You can enroll in one of their courses to get this training
- Learn about the software and tools used by writers in the industry. For instance, did you know that besides MS Word, technical writers also use the Adobe FraneMaker? Learn how to use tools like these and explore others that are used by professional writers
- Network with technical writers in your family and friends or other acquaintances as this will open up potential opportunities for you and make you ‘known’ in the market.
Step 4: Enter the Job Market
All prepared and honed well in the field, you are now ready to enter the job market. Make sure you have your CV and a portfolio of writing samples when you step out, and do highlight all your relevant work experience.
We’re sure that if you follow these steps dedicatedly, there is nothing that can stop you from becoming a successful technical writer.