Technical Writer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Technical Writer, or Technical Communicator, writes descriptive manuals and guides for complex subjects. Their duties include researching topics, writing documents and editing their work for publication.

 

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Technical Writer duties and responsibilities

The Technical Writer is responsible for generating innovative ideas for content while working both independently and collaboratively as part of a team. The position researches products, services, technology or concepts to be documented and easily understood by a broad audience.

Some of the duties and responsibilities of a Technical Writer include:

  • Determine the clearest and most logical way to present information for greatest reader comprehension.
  • Generate innovative ideas for content and workflow solutions.
  • Meet with subject-matter experts to ensure specialized topics are appropriately addressed.
  • Analyze information required for the development or update of policy, procedure and form documentation.
  • Review and/or copyedit content developed by other members of the team.

 

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What does a Technical Writer do?

Technical Writers typically work for companies that manufacture complex machinery, appliances or tools and write manuals for their products. Others work for themselves as freelancers and get hired for individual writing assignments. They’re responsible for writing clear, easy-to-understand manuals and guides for installers or laypeople to use when receiving their new product.

 

Technical Writer skills and qualifications 

Technical Writers need familiarity with topic-based writing and structured content in line with the company’s goals. Technical Writers possess exceptional skills in selecting the appropriate medium for the target audience, such as manuals, online videos and graphics. 

Here are some general skills and qualifications a Technical Writer needs:

  • Fluency in technical and common office software
  • Ability to pay attention to details
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to prioritize and execute tasks in a fast-paced environment
  • Willingness to take on new challenges and build on current skills
  • Exceptional analytical and conceptual thinking skills
  • Ability to multi-task and be a self-starter
  • Ability to check all technical material for consistency and accuracy

 

Technical Writer salary expectations

The average salary for a Technical Writer is $57,200 per year in the United States, with a potential $2,000 cash bonus per year. Salary may depend on the level of experience, education and geographical location. 

 

Technical Writer education and training requirements

Technical Writers are generally required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in English, communication, business administration or technical writing. A high school diploma is mandatory. Software and IT companies may ask for specific training or college credits in a specialized area, possibly with the ability to code.  

 

Technical Writer experience requirements

The experience requirements for a Technical Writer vary depending on the company’s products and goals. Most companies will require 2-5 years of experience as a Writer, particularly creating content for non-technical users about the internet, consumer tech, web publishing or a related field.

 

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Frequently asked questions about Technical Writers

 

What makes a good Technical Writer?

Technical Writers must have a number of skills and qualities to perform their jobs well. One of the most important abilities for a Technical Writer to have is solid writing prowess. Technical Writers must understand grammatical conventions and write in a clear and fluent manner. It’s also important for Technical Writers to be highly self-motivated and autonomous workers. 

Whether a Technical Writer works as an internal employee for a company or as a freelancer, much of their time is spent writing with little oversight or supervision. Finally, Technical Writers must be excellent researchers so they accurately explain their topic to their reader. 

 

What is the difference between a Technical Writer and a Copywriter?

Technical Writers and Copywriters perform many of the same tasks on the job, but the type of writing they perform differs tremendously. Technical Writers primarily write manuals, guides and instruction booklets for professional and personal use. Copywriters, by contrast, write a much broader range of publications, from magazine articles to blog posts to advertising language. Technical Writers might have a background in their specific area of writing, while Copywriters often have more education in language and grammar generally than a specific field. 

 

What are the daily duties of a Technical Writer?

Most Technical Writers perform many of the same duties from day to day, regardless of the industry they’re in. In most cases, they spend their work time researching, writing and proofreading their assignments. They may have meetings with internal or external stakeholders to review their work or strategize about new assignments. In some cases, for technical pieces that include graphics or images, they might meet with an illustrator or photographer to discuss captions or layouts for the piece. Generally, however, Technical Writers usually work independently and autonomously. 

 

What should you look for in a Technical Writer resume?

When reviewing a potential Technical Writer candidate’s resume, look for a few specific elements to ensure they have the appropriate training and experience to succeed in the role. Technical Writers should have some background either in writing or language. Look for a degree in English or composition in addition to writing based work experience. Besides education and training, look for skills and qualities from past jobs that align with the skills posted in the job description. Likely, these include the ability to work independently, an understanding of the specific technical knowledge of the job and excellent communication skills. 

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