What You Need to Know If You’re Thinking About Hiring A Technical Writer

January 17, 2019

Hiring a writer isn’t always a straightforward process. Some businesses need marketing-based writers to promote social media channels while others need more highly skilled writers to communicate information. Technical writers are the gold standard when it comes to sharing complex technical materials with consumers.

These writers create technical content ranging from user manuals to assembly guides. They create this technical material with the goal of improving understanding of a company's products and services.

Technical writers take time to evaluate product samples and use their technical skills to make these complex products easier to understand. Find out more about the technical writing industry and how hiring one can improve your business.

What Is A Technical Writer?

A technical writer is also commonly known as a technical communicator and engages in a highly specialized form of business writing. These individuals are responsible for presenting technical information in a way that is easy for the target audience to understand. Technical writers can produce information for potential customers as well as in-house employees such as designers and manufacturers. They have a strong command of the English language, content management process, and technical document creation.

Technical writers create documents including complex technical manuals, instruction materials, blog posts, journal articles, how-to guides, and assembly instructions. Technical writers also create 'frequently asked question' pages and work with customer service agents to improve the end-user experience of products and services. These writers work with support staff to help craft document design and promote project management objectives.

Technical writers can also draft whitepapers, research studies, and grant proposals. These types of writers are highly skilled and add valuable expertise to technical companies. Many technical writers have a background as software developers, aerospace engineers, technical public relations officers, and technical documentation specialists.

What Does A Technical Writer Do?

Technical writers use their writing skills to communicate technical information. They begin each task by analyzing the needs of users when it comes to specific technical documentation. They also communicate with developers to get a sense of how the product works. Once they understand these needs, they create content that will meet users expectations.

Technical writers also work with developers and designers to make products more easy to use. Changes are then reflected in existing technical documentation or new documents are drawn up. Technical writers rely heavily on photos, infographics, diagrams, and charts. These visual aids are created to further consumer understanding of complex information and products.

Technical writers are responsible for standardizing information across platforms. They are also in charge of choosing the proper mediums to share technical information. This means they can create content specifically for social media channels or even videos to further understanding of a company's technical products.

What to Look For In A Technical Writer

Technical writing requires a host of important skills and expertise. A high-quality technical writer will have a deep understanding of technical and scientific services as well as excellent writing skills. Most technical writers hold college degrees in technical backgrounds or writing sectors including journalism. Look for technical writer's that have at minimum a Bachelor's degree or several years working experience in both writing and technical fields.

They should also have extensive experience in computer science, engineering, or web design. Most technical writers start off as research assistants or technical specialists to gain industry experience. This experience is essential for the writer to understand complex technical products. In larger companies, it's a good idea to have a new technical writer start off shadowing a senior technical writer. This helps them ease into the company and fully grasp their duties before beginning.

Technical writers can also gain certifications from companies such as the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Technical Communication. These companies also offer education programs to help technical writers start their careers or fine-tune their skills as part of a life-long learning program. When posting an open position for a technical writer job, make sure to use clear job titles, job descriptions, and any required technical knowledge specific to your field. To hire the best technical writers, assess how many years of experience they have and any special certifications.

What It's Like to Work With A Technical Writer

Technical writers can work both in-house or in a freelance work environment. However, most technical writers work full-time in the office or near the office if they are on a remote work schedule. Proximity to the company office is important since technical writers often need to communicate with other employees or work directly with customers and products.

The states with the highest employment of technical writers are California, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York. If your business is located in one of these states, hiring a local technical writer should be easy. If you are in a state with lower availability of technical writers such as Alaska, Montana, or Mississippi, hiring a freelance technical writer can increase the pool of qualified applicants.

Technical writers typically earn a median wage of $70,930 as of May 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This can be a high expense for small businesses or companies that are just starting out. That's where a freelance technical writer may be useful.

They can be hired on an as-needed basis or per project to keep costs down without sacrificing quality technical communication. Another alternative is junior technical writers or technical writing students. These individuals may need a little more guidance from technical team members or product developers, but can offer quality information at a fraction of the price.

A Growing Industry

The increasing complexity of information technology means that there is an increasing need for companies to emphasize communication skills. Hiring technical staff means your company can easily communicate what you have to offer, even if your products and services are considered complicated for the general population.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook and the BLS under the U.S. Department of Labor is a good source of technical writing jobs statistics. The BLS expects the employment growth for technical writers to increase 11 percent by 2026. In 2016, there were 52,400 job opportunities for writers in the technical field.  Most of these job openings also offer short-term on-site job training. Technical writers can work full-time or part-time and are often an integral part of huge tech companies including Microsoft and Apple.

Hire A Technical Writer

Experienced technical writers are subject matter experts that make complex technical information easier to understand for the everyday individual. They offer web-based product support and detailed instructions on how to use company products and services. They also provide online help in the form of FAQ web pages and e-learning tools.

Hiring a technical writer is a valuable marketing move for businesses large and small. A technical writer can help draft up instruction manuals and communicate information on complex projects in a simplified manner. By making your products easier to understand, you can increase engagement and boost sales. Make an investment in your growth and hire technical writers today.