For Aspiring Technical Writers

Do you possess the skills to grasp new technology and translate the same into simple yet effective steps? Can you use your writing talent effectively to help people understand how to use a product or software application? If yes, then technical writing is the perfect profession for you. This is a unique career that allows you to leverage your writing skills and yet be in close conjunction with latest technology.

So what does a technical writer do? The answer to this at a very high level would be that technical writers develop a set of instructions to help people use a product or service. Any electronic product or software application is usually shipped with a user manual or a user guide that consists of instructions on how to use the product. The user manual also contains important safety guidelines and steps on how to install the product. All this information is gathered, written and edited by a technical writer.

For users of software applications, clicking the “Help” button allows them to know more about the particular feature of that application. Known as “context-sensitive help”, technical writers develop online help documentation and then integrate it with the software application to help end users effectively use the application. Technical writers also develop trouble-shooting guides, training manuals, product brochures, and Internet content.

No particular qualification is required to become a technical writer. A graduate in engineering, science, literature, etc can apply to become a technical writer. However, a certificate course in technical writing is an added advantage. Technical writers are mostly hired by technology and electronic companies and most companies look to hire experienced writers.

Hence, it is very important to land your first job as a technical writer and then work your way through. While appearing for your first interview, you will mostly be quizzed on your fundamentals of English language and basics of technical writing. It would be useful to keep a few writing samples handy as your potential employer will be able to judge your writing skills effectively based on your sample user guide/work sample.

To write an effective sample, take a simple software application such as Notepad or MS-word and create a professional looking user guide, elucidating the features of the application.
You can refer a sample user guides before you actually create your own work to get an idea of the writing style, templates and notations used, etc.