Career Guide  
Technical Writer
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Occupation Overview

Technical Writers use Information Technology (IT) tools to create documentation for IT and other products. They write the user manuals, reference manuals, installation guides, on-line help, and assembly instructions that make so many products understandable to the general public: VCRs, stereos, software, computers, telephones, microwave ovens, and automobiles are just a few examples. In the Bay Area, most positions in this field focus on documenting computer hardware and software products.

People who are naturally curious and like to create attractive documents will enjoy this occupation. The availability of contract positions makes this occupation attractive to those preferring shorter-term assignments.


Future Growth Opportunities

Opportunities for Advancement:

Senior Technical Writer and Technical Writing (Documentation) Manager.

Skills Transferable to:

Freelance Writer, Corporate Communications Specialist, and Electronic Publisher.


Job Descriptions

Inexperienced: ($12-33/hr)

Experienced: ($20-65/hr)

Technical Writers are typically responsible for all phases of documentation, including documentation planning, scheduling, information gathering, writing, and editing the work of fellow Technical Writers. The documentation can include text, equations, graphs, tables, and other graphics, and the material must typically be presented in a manner that is understandable to someone at an 8th grade reading level.

It is frequently necessary to interview experts in the subject matter, typically engineers, in order to understand the product well enough to document it.

While some bilingual positions exist, the vast majority of positions require excellent English writing skills.

Senior Technical Writers are expert writers who have experience with the subject matter at hand. They will take on additional responsibilities such as assisting in the training of writers who are new to the group, developing new processes, and selecting new tools for their department.

Documentation Managers will lead and manage a group of Technical Writers. They will also interface with other departments in the company, such as engineering and marketing.

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