If you have a talent for writing and typing, you may have wondered how to become a technical writer at some point or other.
Well, this comprehensive guide has the answer to all your questions!
Join us as we teach you everything from the skills you’ll need to the money you can earn.
- An Overview of a Technical Writer: A Primer
- What You’ll Need to Become a Technical Writer [& Associated Costs]
- Is it Hard to Become a Technical Writer?
- How to Become a Technical Writer in 6 Simple Steps
- Reasons to Consider Becoming a Technical Writer
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Gigs to Check Out
- Wrapping Up
An Overview of a Technical Writer: A Primer
Technical writing involves creating content on technical subjects for particular audiences, including technicians, scientists, researchers, and business professionals.
Unlike other forms of writing that are done for leisure or entertainment, technical writing serves a specific purpose. This may include providing instructions on how to operate technical products, demonstrating the usage of software, providing a financial summary, and more. This is done through articles, reports, and instruction manuals.
Technical writers also employ a different writing style that includes active voice, accurate word choices, and concise sentences free from fluff.
How Much Do Technical Writers Make?
Pursuing a technical writing career can be financially rewarding, especially if you’re well-versed in your craft.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average technical writer earns $78,060 per year or $37.53 per hour. BLS also projects a 6% average employment growth for technical writers from 2020 to 2030.
Another stat by Glassdoor states that the average technical writer’s salary is $53,282 per year, with the highest earners making up to $79,000 annually.
What You’ll Need to Become a Technical Writer [& Associated Costs]
Becoming a technical writer requires meeting specific criteria and fulfilling certain requirements. We’ll discuss these below and provide a breakdown of the associated costs.
Many technical writers have a strong background, often having a bachelor’s degree in relevant fields such as Computer Science, Engineering, or Information Technology.
While not a hard requirement, having a degree can provide you with an edge over other candidates when seeking employment. The average cost of a 4-year degree program at a public college is $102,828, while a private college degree can cost up to $218,004.
Being a technical writer requires possessing technical writing skills. These are not the same as other forms of writing. You must adhere to specific writing styles, pay close attention to grammar, and have the ability to effectively communicate technical details related to the appropriate subject matter.
You can develop these skills through practice or by taking technical writing courses, the prices of which can range from free to several hundred dollars.
Having significant knowledge about the technical subject in question is a must for a technical writer, and having the ability to effectively apply that knowledge in your writing is essential to excel. The cost of gaining knowledge can vary widely, from self-studying for free to taking specialized courses that cost thousands of dollars.
To create technical documents, you’ll need a computer with writing software installed, such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or others. The cost of these tools can range from being freely available to costing tens or hundreds of dollars a year. As an example, Microsoft 365 costs $99.99 per year.
Building a network is one of the fundamental requirements to succeed in the professional world. As a technical writer, it’s important to build a network of contacts in the industry that help you find job opportunities and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.
You can do this for free using social media sites such as LinkedIn or attend networking events that cost between $50 to $200.
How Much Does it Cost to Become a Technical Writer?
The primary cost of becoming a technical writer is the cost of earning a degree. If you choose to attend a public college, the total cost will be around $120,000. Choosing a private college will increase the cost to approximately $220,000.
Is it Hard to Become a Technical Writer?
While becoming a technical writer can be challenging, it’s not particularly difficult. Like any other career path, technical writing has its own set of challenges and obstacles to overcome.
You’ll need to be well-educated on the subject matter, be a proficient writer, and desire to gain knowledge.
Additionally, you’ll need to be able to consume complex information, which means having a strong core understanding of the topic at hand, whether it be writing on software, scientific and technical products, or any other subject.
There may be times when you feel like giving up, but remember, persistence is key. Keep moving forward, and you’ll find success.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Technical Writer?
This can vary depending on the type of education you pursue. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree can take up to three or four years; an associate’s degree will take two years, while a technical writing certification program typically takes around six months.
In general, completing a course in technical writing may be sufficient to find work in the field. However, most employers require you to have a bachelor’s degree in the related field.
How to Become a Technical Writer in 6 Simple Steps
In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of becoming a technical writer.
Step 1: Develop Your Skills
Start by building and polishing your technical skills. These are the core fundamentals behind every good technical writer, without which the technical writing process will fail.
Basic skills such as communication skills, proofreading skills, and critical thinking skills are also valuable in this field. These allow you to effectively communicate with your intended audience, ensure your work is grammatically sound, and enable you to think clearly about technical details.
Step 2: Gain Technical Knowledge
Possessing the necessary technical know-how is key to becoming a technical writer.
You’ll need to get accustomed to technical concepts and the relevant jargon. Reading technical content, conducting research, examining technical documentation, and paying close attention to technical details will enable you to develop an understanding that you can then use in your own writing.
The best way to gain knowledge is through education and practice. Enroll in a degree program, read books, or complete certifications.
Step 3: Build Your Portfolio
Now, it’s time to apply the vast knowledge you’ve gained and build a portfolio. Every good tech writer has a professional portfolio, and it’s time for you to make one too.
Create a collection of writing samples on your area of expertise to showcase your skills. You can do this for open-source software, work with non-profit organizations, or simply write about technical products.
Having a professionally curated portfolio allows you to market your writing and provide samples when seeking jobs. This will make you distinguish yourself from the competition.
Writing exceptional content devoid of grammatical and punctuation errors is important to create a lasting impact on the hiring team.
Step 4: Build Your Network
Building a network of like-minded individuals can help you gain further knowledge and experience and may lead to job opportunities.
Attending industry events, joining technical writing groups, and working with a technical writing team can help you build valuable connections.
Step 5: Apply For Jobs
Explore different online platforms where technical writers are required and complete their application forms.
Ensure to follow all the application guidelines and send your portfolio.
Try applying to companies and organizations with a high pay rate. You can also contact current employees and post queries about their work ethic and environment.
Step 6: Continue Seeking Knowledge
Your quest for knowledge isn’t over yet!
Technical writers are lifelong learners who must stay up-to-date on the latest developments and research to ensure their knowledge base doesn’t become deprecated.
It’s important to read articles and technical material and follow relevant social media pages and channels to stay on top of your game.
Reasons to Consider Becoming a Technical Writer
Here are some compelling reasons to consider pursuing a technical writing career.
- Flexibility: Becoming a technical writer and freelancing allows the feasibility of working from the comfort of home. You’ll have the freedom to decide your own hours and work as much or as little as you desire.
- Future-Proof: Technical writing jobs are in high demand, with BLS predicting a growth of 6% in the coming decade. This means companies and organizations will be seeking highly skilled writers.
- Monetary Benefits: Technical writers are offered competitive salaries, particularly those with experience or specialized knowledge about certain subjects.
- Constant Learning: As a technical writer, you need to keep up with the latest advancements and write about them. This field demands continuous learning and adaptation, which can be an enjoyable challenge for some writers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Should You Look for Technical Writing Jobs?
Keep an eye out for job openings on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and others.
Additionally, network with your fellow peers, read job postings in newspapers and magazines, and create an account on popular freelance platforms.
How Can You Identify Your Target Audience?
In short, you’ll need to conduct an audience analysis. This means understanding the demographic, education, interests, and needs of your intended audience.
You can conduct surveys, reach out for interviews, or analyze existing data to gather vital information.
This will help you fine-tune your writing according to the target audience.
Similar Gigs to Check Out
If you think technical writing isn’t really your style, maybe you’ll fancy some of these gigs instead.
- How to Become an IT Worker: Are you a computer whiz seeking a tech-related career? Read our guide and learn the secrets of becoming an IT worker.
- How to Become a Freelance Videographer: Do you have the talent and passion for shooting professional-grade videos? Start a lucrative career as a videographer now!
- How to Become a Photographer: Do you enjoy capturing natural beauty through a lens? Learn the inside secrets of becoming a photographer with this handy guide.
Starting a career as a technical writer can be scary in the beginning, and you’re bound to encounter hurdles. However, with the right mindset, you can overcome the challenges and emerge victorious.
If you possess the right skill set, this can be an enjoyable and rewarding venture that opens doors for new experiences.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject, so please comment below.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with other fellow writers.