Tech Writing Career for Engineers

If you are an Engineer or a Computer Science graduate and looking for a career other than software development or testing, then try considering technical writing as a potential career option. Little is known about technical writing as a career and people miss out on good job opportunities.

But, as companies are realizing the need of technical documentation the demand for technical writers has also gone up with salaries at par with that of software developers and testers.

A technical writer must possess a good technical background, as he must be able to comprehend complex technical processes, applications, products and services and be able write technically about them. Technical writing is a link between technology and the users. Looking at the current market situation where Customer is King, the efficiency of the technical writers plays a major role in getting or loosing a deal, as companies are becoming conscious about the information they convey to the customers. Therefore, they hire technical writers who are experts.

You, being an Engineer or Computer Science graduate, are better than the other entrants with non-technical background as you already are familiar with the technology.

A technical writer is expected to have basic writing skills, as documents should be written in simple, clear and concise manner. Also a technical writer should be able to edit his work for clarity and usefulness. There is Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publication to help you understand how to write and edit technical documents.

Usual work of a technical writer is to write a software or hardware document. For example, writing online helps, help for desktop applications, FAQ pages in the website, user manual for mobile phones and many more. Firstly, a technical writer needs to study the software and identify the target audience. He also needs to interact with the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to gain as much knowledge about the product as possible in limited time. Then make an outline of the document and write what he has understood which is then reviewed by the editing team and if approved is sent for publishing.

For this purpose also unless a technical writer has strong technical skills he would not be able to decipher what the SMEs are talking about and what questions to ask to gain better understanding of the product let alone to produce it into a document later on.

The most difficult part of technical documentation is to understand the associated jargons and convert them into easy to understand documents as the target audience may or may not understand the technicalities of the product. Here also, engineers have an edge over the other non-technical graduates.

Talking about training programs, you should choose the ones which teach technical writing concepts and principles, rather than giving emphasis to technical documentation tools as your technical background would make it easier for you to learn them. Moreover, different organizations use different tools and they will be willing to hire you with good technical documentation concepts and train you in the particular tool they use.