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Documentation Writer Education Requirements
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The education needed to be a documentation writer is normally a bachelor's degree. Documentation writers usually study english, business or writing. 63% of documentation writers hold a bachelor's degree and 16% hold a associate degree. We found these by analyzing 325 documentation writer resumes to investigate the topic of documentation writer education more precisely.
The most common colleges for students to pursue their goal of becoming a documentation writer are Vincennes University and New York University. We also broke down what colleges provide the best overall education for a documentation writer. Students have a great path to earning their documentation writer qualifications at the following schools:
- Northwestern University
- Stanford University
- Pennsylvania State University
If you're interested in getting a college degree in an affordable college for documentation writers - Baruch College of the City University of New York is an excellent option for you. If your SAT or ACT score aren't as high as you'd like, you can look at Holy Names University, as the admission requirements aren't too selective. On the other end of that spectrum are the Northwestern University, Stanford University and University of Southern California.
For those who would rather stay in your pajamas during the day, we prepared some online courses that can help in documentation writer education paths.
What Degree Should I Get to Become a Documentation Writer ?
The most common degree for documentation writers is bachelor's degree 63% of documentation writers earn that degree. A close second is associate degree with 16% and rounding it off is master's degree with 12%.
- Bachelors , 63%
- Associate , 16%
- Masters , 12%
- High School Diploma , 4%
- Other Degrees , 5%
Most Common Level Of Education For Documentation Writers
What should i major in to become a documentation writer .
Most documentation writers, 15% to be exact, major in english. Some other common majors for a documentation writer include business and writing majors.
- English , 15%
- Business , 14%
- Writing , 8%
- Education , 6%
- Other Majors , 57%
Most Common Majors For Documentation Writers
Check jobs that match to your education, most common colleges for documentation writer.
Here are the most common colleges for a documentation writer career in the US based on their resumes. Advocates often get their degree in Vincennes University, New York University, and University of Phoenix .
New York University
University of Phoenix
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
University of Massachusetts Boston
Most Common Colleges
Average documentation writer salary by education level.
Documentation writers with a Bachelors degree earn more than those without, at $70,227 annually. With a Masters degree, documentation writers earn a median annual income of $69,653.
Salary By Education Level
Documentation writer jobs, 10 best universities for documentation writers.
In a lot of cases, a higher education can mean a higher salary or even a better job. That's why we found out the best colleges for documentation writers. We based this list on these metrics: admissions rate, retention rate, mean earnings of students working, ratio of working vs. non-working students 10 years after admission, average cost of attendance and median debt for graduates.
1. Northwestern University
Evanston, IL • Private
2. Stanford University
Stanford, CA • Private
3. Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA • Private
4. University of Houston
Houston, TX • Private
5. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA • Private
6. Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY • Private
7. San Diego State University
San Diego, CA • Private
8. Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI • Private
9. Duquesne University
Pittsburgh, PA • Private
10. Boston University
Boston, MA • Private
Best Colleges For Documentation Writers
20 best online courses for documentation writers.
- Technical documentation
- Subject matter experts
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Best Documentation Writer Certifications in 2023
1. certified professional technical communicator - expert (cptc).
The Certified Professional Technical CommunicatorTM (CPTC) credential assures employers and the public that the certified practitioners possesses the knowledge, skill, and ability needed to meet the demands of complex technical communication projects from the planning stage through completion.
- More than two years of education or training after high school required? No
- More than two years of work experience required? Yes
- Oral or Written Exam Required? Yes
- Renewal Required? Every 3 year(s)
- Technical Writer
- Principal Technical Writer
- Contractor-Senior Technical Writer
- Senior Technical Writer
Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Documentation Writer
Top 10 affordable universities for documentation writers.
If those top 10 were a bit out of your price range, you might want to check these schools instead. After factoring in in-state tuition and fees, average cost of attendance, admissions rate, average net price and mean earnings after 6 years, we found that these are the most affordable schools for documentation writers.
1. Baruch College of the City University of New York
New York, NY • Private
2. University of Florida
Gainesville, FL • Private
3. USF Sarasota-Manatee
Sarasota, FL • Private
4. SUNY Farmingdale
Farmingdale, NY • Private
5. California State University - Dominguez Hills
Carson, CA • Private
6. Brigham Young University
Provo, UT • Private
7. Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL • Private
8. Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
Brooklyn, NY • Private
9. City College of New York of the City University of New York, The
10. California State University - Bakersfield
Bakersfield, CA • Private
Most Affordable Colleges For Documentation Writers
Top 10 hardest universities to get into for documentation writers.
Some people like a challenge. Well, we challenge you to get into one of these schools. It's not going to be easy. We know this based on these institutions' admissions rates, average SAT scores accepted, median ACT scores accepted and mean earnings of students 6 years after admission.
3. University of Southern California
4. boston university.
5. Washington University in St Louis
Saint Louis, MO • Private
6. Northeastern University
7. George Washington University, The
Washington, DC • Private
8. New York University
9. Villanova University
Villanova, PA • Private
10. Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX • Private
Elite Colleges For Documentation Writers
Top 10 easier to apply universities for documentation writers.
Why make getting a job harder on yourself than it has to be? With these colleges, you're sure to be accepted in no time. We compiled admissions rates, average SAT scores, average ACT scores and average salary of students 6 years after graduation in order to uncover which were the easiest schools to get into.
1. Holy Names University
Oakland, CA • Private
2. Notre Dame de Namur University
Belmont, CA • Private
3. Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Bartlesville, OK • Private
4. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
Standish, ME • Private
5. Mount Saint Mary's University
6. Barry University
Miami, FL • Private
7. Notre Dame College
Cleveland, OH • Private
8. Kean University
Union, NJ • Private
9. Cardinal Stritch University
10. rochester university.
Rochester Hills, MI • Private
Good Colleges For Documentation Writers
Documentation writer internship jobs, documentation writer jobs, jobs with similar education.
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- Documentation Writer Education
A detailed Guide to Become a Documentation Writer
A documentation writer deciphers the complex data or information into understandable language. the job of a documentation writer is almost similar to a technical writer. however, it varies as you work with different kinds of businesses. as easy as its sounds, the work of a documentation writer is not like a walk in the park. these writers work with almost all departments of businesses to gather information and structure full-proof content. knowing and understanding the customer is also a part of the job..
So how can you kickstart your career as a documentation writer? This article includes all the ins and outs details that you need to begin your career as a documentation writer. The demand for writing in the industry will remain unscathed even with the advancement in AI technology.
AI can re-phrase the existing content, and some tools can give you content from scratch, but it will not be as detailed as human writing. That said, the future of writing is bright and getting competitive as the day passes. When we say writing, it’s not like drafting a short note or essay like we all used to do in school.
Becoming a writer in the industry is a totally different experience. A simple content writer’s work majorly includes research. However, when it comes to a documentation writer, things are different. When you strive to become a documentation writer, you always have to be ready for challenges and work with the first-mover mindset.
You might wonder, why first-mover mindset? Well, before a consumer uses the product, it will be you who is going to use it. You have to scan the product entirely to draft its guides on how to use it, explain its benefits, and other legal information like its warranty and so.
So, what kind of degree or certificate do you need to get a job as a documentation writer. Next off, this article will walk you through what it takes to be a documentation writer.
What is a Documentation Writer?
The example we give you about a product guide is just one thing; there’s more to it, e.g. IT documentation, API documentation , Java documentation, Process documentation, policy and procedures, knowledge base, and training materials. As you can see, a document writer is nothing less than a backbone for a business.
A simple definition of a document writer would be a person who simplifies technical jargon into simple language for the end-user. Now, the end-user doesn’t have to be a customer all the time. It can be another business or a particular department of your own business.
Recommended Read: Technical Writing Courses in India
Is It A Right Career Choice For You?
Before jumping into any career path, it’s necessary to do a little bit of research to get a basic idea about whether it is worth doing or not. In the above section, we’ve mentioned some of the work responsibilities of a document writer. Well, it’s not like when you get a job, you have to do all those things.
Every business has different requirements, so thoroughly read their job description. Now that we have cleared a misconception. Let us help you understand whether it is the right career path for you or not.
If you match with any of the points we have mentioned below, you are a right fit for becoming a document writer:
- You love to read and write.
- You can understand complex information and easily explain it to anybody.
- You love learning new concepts.
- You are tech-savvy.
- You are creative and adaptive.
These are the basic key point you will find in any document writer. Even if you don’t match with any of the points we cited, don’t worry; you can still give it a try to test your luck.
How To Become a Documentation Writer
To begin with, let’s focus on the writing part first. How good can you write? Can you explain the difficult-to-understand terms in simple language? Apart from writing about your bio for yourself, what else can you write? Also, how good are you at adapting to new changes? These are some of the basic questions that you should ask yourself.
You already know how to write. What you don’t know is what to write. You can refer to other people’s work using the Google search engine, and you will get the idea. I will be explaining each point in detail that helps you get started so, read till the very end.
Understanding The Groundwork
Document writing is not a popular field in education. Therefore no university will teach you about it in detail. However, everybody had done it subconsciously; the only difference was you didn’t notice it. To mention some of them, once in a life you must have done a project in your school and college, where you made ppts, flowcharts, written a thesis and more alike.
What are these? These are documents you created explaining one thing in different ways. Now, how does it works in the industry? The game of documentation is almost the same as you’ve done in school/college, except there are some technicalities.
To understand how an industry document writer writes, find the instruction manual/quick guide/user guide of the device you have in your home like TV, Refrigerator, AC, Smartphone, etc. A document writer has done the paperwork you get along with your electronic gadgets.
Start reading it, and you will get an idea of what to write. After that, analyze these documents’ structure. Meaning what comes first and how each step is planned; so the end-user can understand it easily. To learn more, read the troubleshooting articles on software products.
Simply search “Microsoft troubleshoot” or any other product you like to use a lot. Once you read these document we have mentioned, you will get a crystal clear idea of how a document writer work.
Learn The Required Software
There is a wide range of software and web tools available for a document writer because it’s not just writing; you should be able to represent contextual information in a way that catches the eyes of the targeted audience.
Below tools are most known in the industry:
- Adobe Photoshop, Robohelp, Framework, and Illustrator
- oXygen XML editor
- Microsoft Word
- Windows Sniping Tool and Movie Maker
If your head gets spun with the fact, do you have to know all of them? Then, let us help relax your mind with the answer, NO. Many of you have at least used Microsoft Word or Google Docs once in a while. You know the basics of it, and to advance your skills with these SaaS products, you can use Youtube.
What we recommend learning is Adobe SaaS products and Microsoft Visio. Learning them at first can be quite difficult but as you spend more time learning and applying, there’s no doubt you will become a pro at using these SaaS products.
Become a Curator
You have to be proactive in this field to get your work done. A document writer is not limited to a particular subject matter or product. That said, you will always explore new things every day, and since you are not an encyclopedia, you have to gather knowledge from others.
To explain it in more simple terms, here’s an example. You work in an office writing product guides. To do that, first, you need to understand what problem it solves and who’s going to use it. To accomplish this task, you will be contacting the marketing team to help you out with the questions.
Next up is the design and manufacturing team that explains technical terms of products like dimension, weight, the material used, warranty, etc. You will work with the different departments of your office consistently until you get the work done.
As a document writer, you are responsible for paperwork of the business such as a whitepaper , contract, legal documents, and more alike. Therefore, you should always be prepared to take upon challenges and learn new subjects because technology is not the only complex field.
Structure the Intel
After gathering information, you need to process the intel incoherent language, but that’s not enough. A proper structure of content drives the user from point A to B without any redirection. Structure content means what goes first in writing. Sound easy, right?
For the experienced user, it might seem easy, but for a beginner, it’s not a cakewalk. Fret not, you will learn it with practice in no time, so don’t quit that easily. While structuring the content, you have to keep in mind its visual representation.
How will it look on paper because product guides are not like textbooks? You can carve your visualization into software like MS Visio, Adobe, or any else from the list that we mentioned in the section “Learn The Required Software”.
Let’s summarize the points till now I’ve discussed.
- Analyze other people work
- Learn soft skill
- Communication with other departments
- Structuring the content
Now, it’s time to write.
Where to begin? Writing the first word and sentence is primarily the rigid part of any writing, be it an essay, your bio on LinkedIn, or writing a guide. What to write? Even though you have everything on the table and read other people’s work, you can’t think of anything.
First of all, reading other people can help you get ideas and inspiration, but you can’t copy the lines. A simple exercise to come up with something while writing a document for anything is to put yourself first in the process. If you are writing a product guide, think about how you are going to use it and start writing.
Start forging the sentence around the intel you have. As for help in writing, use Grammarly to get rid of spelling and grammar errors. Do not edit anything until you have utilized all the information in text form.
Once you write everything, arrange them in the correct order. Use new docs or spreadsheets for it, as changing existing documents can take a longer time.
After writing and setting up all the lines in order, check the content like a scanning machine. Fix the spelling mistakes with the help of the Grammarly tool and keep the text tone as required. Editing is vital because when you read the entire content, you get the idea of what to keep and what to remove.
Also, sometimes you have to re-write an entire sentence, so editing is no walk-in-the-park procedure. So while editing, pay attention to details like a hawk.
Tips To Improve Your Document Writing
Document writing is not about just words; the way of representation matters equally. If it’s text-only, no one will ever read your work. The software helps you with the representation, and you are the one who gives it a shape. When you write something, try including an image in it if possible.
As you know, “An image says a thousand words.” Not limited to that only, it gives the reader a reason to read the text around it. Keep the writing tone according to your targeted audience. When you constantly write in a single tone, it becomes a habit, so when you begin writing a document, make sure to keep in mind the audience’s persona.
There are various types of writing tones . The majorly known are conversational, informal, storytelling, and technical. As we have already written in the article, a document writer works with almost all divisions of the business, so be good at communicating with people. Constant learning is a key element for a document writer.
Job or Freelancing : Which Is Better?
A document writer said as a part of a technical writing role. As a beginner, you can expect to have a package of 3 LPA. Now, it will vary depending on the locality you are living in. While doing your job, you can take on some freelance projects too. You can do it to earn extra cash for yourself.
If you are not a student, we advise you not to leave the job or business you are in and start freelancing in your free time. In the case of a student, you should start freelancing in the early stages. In our opinion, none of these options are good or bad. It depends on your situation and how dedicated you are.
Frequently Asked Question
Q.1. how long does it take to become a documentation writer.
Ans. There’s no time rule that can show how much time it takes. It comes with practice. Learn the basics, master the soft skills and communicate better with others.
Q.2: What are the education requirements to get a job as a document writer?
Ans. From the perspective of the hirer, most of them prefer a person with at least a bachelor’s degree in journalism, or marketing. But we say don’t let it be the barrier. Even if you don’t come from the education we mentioned you can still apply if you love to do it and you are really good at it.
Q.3: Should I take a course or learn from the internet to become a writer?
Ans. It depends on your financial situation and how much time you have to invest. To get a streamlined flow of learning and getting the result faster a course is definitely a way to go. However, if you thinking to start part-time then self-paced learning is also a good option.
Starting as a document writer can be crucial, and since it’s a part of a technical writer, you can try enrolling in the technical writing course . You can become a document writer on your own by using the sources available on the internet. However, it will take more time than usual to speed up your career in this field; learning from the best is beneficial. A document writer is an excellent job though it’s not that anybody can do it. If you have an interest in writing, then you should try to become a document writer.
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Document writer job description.
A document writer, also referred to as a technical writer , works for corporations to provide documentation for their products and services. Their writing is usually factual in nature and often highly technical. Software companies, technology corporations and electronics manufacturers are three of the main types of employers that rely heavily on document writers to produce technical documents for their clients.
A document writer produces factual information about products in a variety of formats, from instruction manuals to help desk material, frequently asked questions (FAQs), how-to's, fact sheets, technical specifications, and reference manuals. He needs to be able to describe complex processes such as installation, setup and functions in clear English for consumers of the software or products, who will often be complete beginners and may have no technical expertise. He must produce his documents on time without errors. He may be expected to contribute to the layout and design of the document, particularly with reference to diagrams that support the step-by-step instructions he has written. He may work solo and be responsible for all aspects of the document, or be part of a team and need to perform his duties reliably to get the project completed on time.
Education and Qualifications
A technical writer should have a bachelor's degree in English, communications or journalism. Some technical writers may also be expected to have a technical background or experience in working with technology companies. They may also be required to have experience in certain computer languages and be able to use a variety of word-processing and layout programs for both print and online documents.
Skills and Abilities
Document writers must possess excellent communication skills, particularly in writing. They must also be able to work with a wide variety of colleagues from developers to engineers to be sure they have a good understanding of the product they are writing about to convey all the important information about it to the end user. They must be able to work under pressure and meet all deadlines.
Document writers must be able to handle complex transactional language to describe processes and functions of complex computer programs or electronic equipment. They should also have a good command of the technical terms and vocabulary commonly used in the field in which they are working. They should be able to adhere to the style specified by the corporation they are working for, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.
Document writers should be able to work well with their senior editor and a copywriter and fact checker, who will all review the document writer's work before it is published and released. Document writers should have an excellent command of grammar and punctuation and show great attention to detail.
Salary and Benefits
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for 2009, the average salary for a document writer is approximately $65,610 a year, with an average hourly wage of $31.55. Many document writers work freelance, but those who are in a large corporations can enjoy paid vacations and health and other benefits.
Because of the world's increasing reliance upon existing and emerging technologies, and English as a global language of business and commerce, particularly in computer technology, document writer jobs are expected to increase at an above-average rate over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Documentation Writers: Everything You Need to Know
Technical documentation keeps a business running smoothly. Good documentation is easy to read, well-organized, accessible, and, most importantly, comprehensive when written properly. With essential data at its fingertips, a company can leverage critical information into successful business outcomes.
Furthermore, technical documentation is one of the best examples of professional technical writing services . That’s because tech writers are experts at documenting the highly technical aspects of products, services, and processes.
In this article, you will learn the definition of a documentation writer, the types of documents they write, and why they are critical assets for your business. Moreover, remember that while documentation writers are technically a subset of technical writers, both terms are used interchangeably.
What Are Documentation Writers?
In every industry, big and small organizations use a variety of documentation. Companies cannot operate without these manuals, guidelines, and SOPs. They contain the company’s essential data. That is why business operations, continuity, and success depend on the quality and effectiveness of documentation.
In addition, a documentation writer is responsible for communicating complex information in a clear and useful manner . They simplify product functionality and oversee and maintain document management systems and processes.
Moreover, documentation writers obtain essential information by working alongside subject matter experts (SMEs), developers, engineers, and project managers. Documentation writers are experienced in industries that rely on technology, like IT, medicine, marketing, and engineering.
Documentation Writers are fluent in 7 Types of Technical Documents .
Over the years, documentation writers have developed a misleading reputation. Many often think they produce simple documents, like board game instructions or TV guides.
Moreover, they tend to focus on various technical documents, from compliance policies to aircraft specifications to incident management plans. These are critical documents for daily business operations.
In addition, documentation writers produce so many types of documents that listing every kind is nearly impossible. But there are a few examples of technical documentation from the tech industry.
IT documentation is a collection of documents describing how an IT team operates. These are critical documents for ensuring that all systems use as expected at all times.
API documentation is a reference manual on how to use and connect multiple APIs, allowing different software services to connect seamlessly.
Process documentation describes a series of steps to complete a task or process. This can often refer to the “how” of your business. Furthermore, prospective users will be able to access critical recorded maneuvers.
Finally, When a process document is done correctly, your business could benefit from reduced busy work, eliminated errors, streamlined the process, allocated resources accordingly, enhanced communication, and retained knowledge.
Policy and Procedures
Policy and procedures documents are guidelines for a business’s day-to-day operations and other courses of action.
A knowledge base document collects frequently asked questions (FAQs), how-to guides, and troubleshooting instructions. A Knowledge Base can be thought of as a database for a company, where new questions and answers regarding a product or service can be added at any given moment.
Training materials are a documentation writer’s most well-known type of work. They consist of various manuals, job aids, and other tools to help employees learn specific skills or knowledge.
The Java computer programming language can be very complex. Documenting its principal rules for an organization or one of its projects is critical for business operations.
Moreover, there are generally two types of Java documents:
- External documents: A description of the guidelines and restrictions in a Java program.
- Internal documents: An explanation of a specific code and its methodology.
That’s just an overview. If you want more information about technical documents and all the other types, click here .
The Skyrocketing Value of a Software Documentation Writer
Revenues for the global software market are projected to increase annually until 2027, when they may reach $813 billion . Everyone in software development will play a significant role in this excellent value creation.
Software is designed by engineers and built by programmers in alliance with business goals. While some companies expect those specialists to explain the products they’re developing in clear writing; others know that a software documentation writer is best suited for this position.
Similarly, software documentation contains instructions explaining how to use a program or a service. This type of documentation needs to target a specific audience, whether an IT professional, a business leader or an end-user at any level of any organization.
Documenting this highly sophisticated technical material in simple terms is an artful balancing act best executed by a professional writer. The companies that realize this have seen firsthand the difference between clear and concise documentation of their essential data and sloppy writing that costs everyone time, money, and headaches.
Why Are Documentation Writers Important For Your Business?
When you invest in a documentation writer , you take an essential step toward creating deliverables that ensure your in-house employees can achieve their goals. Documentation writers have not siloed workers.
Instead, they work alongside computer hardware engineers and support specialists so that they can manage complex information flows. Their work keeps your company’s projects on time and under budget, freeing up resources for development and testing.
Furthermore, this happens whether documentation writers are on a project from the beginning or brought in later to fix errors, reduce redundancies, remove documents, and increase productivity. Similarly, their work lays down new standards that often serve as the single source of truth about company products or processes.
In addition, this bridges the gap between current employees, that have gained valuable knowledge over time, and future employees. In a demanding business environment, seamless information flows can be the difference between increasing user satisfaction and retaining customers – or losing out to an organized, efficient, well-documented competitor.
How Essential Data Corporation Can Help Your Documentation
Whether you need a single software technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or [email protected]
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Difference between document writer and content writer
Content writers are those professional writers who write various contents for applications over the Internet. They are generally referred to as Internet-savvy individuals whose responsibilities include creating articles, blogs and also other forms of written web materials. They create contents for various types of websites including blogs, social networking sites, e-commerce sites, news aggregators and also for college websites.
Document writers are those professional writers who work for various corporations to prepare documentation for their products and services. They are sometimes referred to as a Technical writer depending on their job profile. A document writer creates factual information about products in a mixture of formats, from instruction manuals to help desk materials, technical specifications, popular FAQs, fact sheets, and also certain reference manuals.
Document writer and Opportunities
A Document writer should have a Bachelor’s degree in English, Communications or Journalism. Some job profiles demand basic technical knowledge as well. They are offered good remuneration also in reputed firms. Some of the common firms recruiting these people include the following.
- Software companies
- Technology corporations
- Electronics manufacturers
- Business Process Outsourcing firms
- Knowledge Process Outsourcing firms
Content writer and Opportunities
The basic educational qualification required to become a Content writer is a Bachelor’s degree. Most of the employers demand for a basic knowledge in English and also creativity skills. Some firms deal with mathematics oriented contents and they demand for a basic knowledge in Mathematics as well. Content writers have several job opportunities in various areas where they can work in flexible work profiles and they get exposure to various undertakings also. They are paid good remuneration as well. After gaining sufficient experience in the field and by acquiring knowledge and skills in the field they can earn even more. Some of the common areas where these people get placed include the following.
- Information Technology firms
They can also work as a freelance writer.
Key difference between document writer and content writer
Content writers are those professional writers who write various contents for applications over the Internet whereas Document writers are those professional writers who work for various corporations to prepare documentation for their products and services.
The basic educational qualification required to become a Content writer is a Bachelor’s degree whereas a Document writer should have a Bachelor’s degree in English, Communications or Journalism.
The job profiles as well as the salary packages offered for a Content writer and a Document writer is different.
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What Does a Technical Writer Do?
Become a Certified Technical Writer
Table of contents.
A technical writer writes company documents such as instruction manuals, intermediate to end-user manuals, reference guides, operating procedure guides, white papers, and specialized product descriptions.
Writers can work as documentation specialists, creating and updating company paperwork related to training and developing technical staff.
Technical writers may also write journal articles, occupational outlook handbooks, and other high-quality documentation, depending on their specific area of expertise.
Almost all the current global industries have an underlying need for technical documentation. So much so that developing such content is a job title in itself. All corporate and commercial hierarchy levels need someone to take complex information and turn it into easily understandable content for the end-user. All that makes up the technical content writer job description.
Technical writer job opportunities whether as a freelance technical writer or full-time are always available – even more so with the arrival of advanced technology (and the need to explain how it works) in just about every workplace.
If you’re interested in making a career out of technical writing, read on. In this article, I’ll give a detailed description of the technical writer’s job, the required qualifications, and how to succeed as a technical writer. If you’re looking to learn via video, then see this resource:
What are Technical Writer Responsibilities?
Here are technical writer responsibilities at a glance:
- Research technical information related to their company or department’s field of operation
- Plan technical document development according to company needs
- Compile information by order of usability
- Develop and edit the required documentation
- Organize all technical documents into the database and make copies for data security
- Maintain a detailed glossary and library of technical terms and records at all times
Other than these, some writers may have more specific responsibilities in their professional field, making it a diverse job with varying duties.
For example, medical writers often write drug-related literature and product reviews in medical journals.
As mentioned in the previous section, technical writing is quite a diverse field, and professionals in it can have a variety of responsibilities depending on the company.
For example, if you work as a Google technical writer, you might work on writing documentation on how users can embed YouTube videos. And if you’re a LinkedIn technical writer, you might write documentation on how users can create a LinkedIn profile.
Nevertheless, all technical writers have common job duties.
Here are some of the primary responsibilities of all modern technical writers.
Subject Matter Research
Because they write the very literature that professionals in a field will study to become experts in their niche, technical writers have to be subject matter experts to some degree.
Their expertise comes from conducting detailed theoretical research into a professional area or topic and developing content based on their findings.
While conducting subject matter research, technical writers will:
- Gather topic-related information from various sources such as journals, competitor literature, dissertations, whitepapers, and even professional social media, LinkedIn, or job boards.
- Study previously written information on a specific subject and correlate it to their topic.
- Discern useful information and narrow their research down to specific points.
- List those points in order of importance to the subject.
Additionally, writers may interview existing experts or even take courses based on their research topic.
Technical Document Planning
Since technical documents are vital to the company’s operational requirements, writers need to plan out their development instead of simply starting on singular notice.
Writers plan the resources each technical document consumes and its impact.
While planning technical documentation, technical writers will:
- Ascertain project scope and resource input based on the complexity of the document
- Familiarize themselves with the subject
- Maintain a work log containing daily tasks for themselves and their team (for senior technical writers)
- Interview internal experts and managers for insight
In some instances, (senior) writers operate as full-time managers for the technical writing team. In this capacity, they’re responsible for developing systematic writing approaches for more efficient work, as well as setting timely targets for team members.
If you’re interested in learning more about the technical writing process, I recommend you check out our Technical Writing Certification Course .
Technical Writer Role
While most role requirements for technical writers stay specific to each job, there are some roles that each potential writer needs to develop.
Here are some of the roles that companies expect a technical writer to fill:
- Outstanding Communicator: As a technical communicator, part of the technical writer’s job is making sure the documents and content they write are easily understandable. Technical writers need excellent communication skills to transfer knowledge without resorting to complex language.
- Tech-Management Pro: Since most modern companies (SMEs and corporations) use software for data processing and housing, technical writers need to know how to effectively manage advanced software systems for storage, research, etc. Furthermore, if the writer works in a technical field, they should have at least working knowledge of functional software and machinery.
- Technical Know-How: While writers don’t need to have experience in the area they’re writing about, it’s beneficial to have at least some practical knowledge of how certain aspects of work from a technical standpoint. For example, information technology and computer science writers should have experience with practical cybersecurity implementation.
- User Experience Development: This relates to the point about communication skills. Writers need to provide the optimal solution for each of the pain points of a reader in their content.
- Effective Information Researcher: Conducting research is one of the fundamental skills for a writer. Technical writers need to refine and streamline their search to collect the most helpful information about a subject in the shortest possible time.
- Detail-Oriented Writer: The most successful technical writers know which details to give.
- Single-Source Selection: Some projects may require writers to create multiple documents on the same topic, but for readers of varying proficiency levels. Writers need to know which source has ample information to benefit all readers and spin the content to suit the beginner and advanced reader.
- Critical Thinker: Critical thinking is associated with non-technical writing. However, it’s just as crucial for technical writers who wish to explore journalistic work. Critical thought will allow readers to discern between valuable information and fluff and ultimately create content that provides a solution instead of data that raises more questions.
Overall, it pays to be not just a talented writer with a knack for picking out the most critical details from a sea of data but also someone who can then transfer that knowledge effectively to the audience.
Technical Writer Qualifications
The exact qualifications of a technical writer depend on the industry and company. However, most writers need to have a few basic credentials.
- Bachelor’s degree in English (or industry-specific faculty), with 2-3 years of experience for an intermediate writer, and 4-5 years for senior writers
- Vocational diploma in technical writing or content development
- Undergraduate degree and extended technical writing internship
In addition to the above, technical writers need to have some experience writing professionally, in either a technical or academic content development capacity.
Candidates with a high-school diploma may also get a junior technical writer job. However, they will usually be required to attain higher education before they can progress to senior positions.
Adopting technical writing as a career can be very rewarding for candidates interested in exploiting creative content development abilities in a technical capacity.
Faculties such as engineering, medicine, architecture, and business administration are conducive to technical writers who are willing to take the steps above to succeed in technical writing.
In conclusion, if you’re interested in a position as a technical writer, make sure to find out which technical content type is suited to your writing abilities, as well as the job responsibilities of the position.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most common technical writing questions:
What is a technical writer’s salary?
The median annual wage for a technical writer is $50K to $72K, varying by experience level and depending on where you live. Urban areas tend to offer higher salaries than rural or suburban ones. The top ten percent earn upwards of $100K per year, so there’s room for growth at all levels.
Is a technical writer a promising career?
A technical writer is a promising career when you enjoy writing and working with technology. You need a good background in English, an understanding of the subject matter to provide effective instruction, and excellent writing skills.
Do I need any formal education for a technical writing career?
No degree is required. Many employers prefer or require at least some coursework in communications-related subjects from colleges or technical schools; those that do often have higher salary expectations.
If you are new to technical writing and are looking to break in, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course , where you will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.
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