Technical Writer Kaitito Hangarau

Technical writers create content for printed and online media, such as user guides and webpages, and present it in a way that can be easily accessed and understood.

Technical writers may do some or all of the following:

  • work with managers, developers, users and others to identify their information needs
  • plan, research and create clear, accurate content such as instructions, standard operating procedures, forms and policies
  • create content in various forms such as video, web, audio, hard copy and interactive eLearning
  • analyse work tasks and manage documentation projects
  • design the layout and structure of documents
  • create language and style guides
  • design and draw business, scientific or technical diagrams
  • edit other writer's work for consistency and clarity
  • test content for its usability
  • manage translations.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for technical writers includes:

  • experience in the field they are writing about
  • writing, editing or publishing work
  • experience in the information technology industry.

Personal Qualities

Technical writers need to be:

  • excellent communicators, both in writing and orally
  • quick learners 
  • approachable, and able to relate to a wide variety of people 
  • good at planning, time management and project management 
  • methodical, persistent and determined.

Skills

Technical writers need to have:

  • the ability to analyse, interpret, simplify and communicate technical information
  • knowledge of the specialist area they are writing about
  • the ability to edit, design and lay out technical documentation
  • skills in word processing, web publishing and graphic design.

Conditions

Technical writers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work part time or long or irregular hours depending on project deadlines
  • usually work in offices but may work from home if self-employed.

Technical Writers can earn around $50K-$60K per year.

Pay for technical writers varies depending on their skills, experience, and where they work.

  • New technical writers usually earn from $50,000 to $60,000 a year.
  • Technical writers with one to four years' experience usually earn between $60,000 and $100,000.
  • Experienced technical writers in management positions can earn between $100,000 and $130,000.

Self-employed technical writers usually earn between $35 and $110 an hour.

Source: Absolute IT, 'Tech and Digital Remuneration Report', 2021; and 'TechCommNZ, 'Salary and Hourly Rate Survey 2020/2021', 2021; and Hays, 'FY 2020/21 Salary Guide Australia and New Zealand', 2021.

Technical writers may progress into jobs in other areas that require good writing skills such as communications, policy analysis or editing.

They may also move into management roles such as managing a team of technical writers.

Technical writers may specialise in fields such as:

  • science
  • computing
  • engineering
  • information technology
  • eLearning development
  • content strategy
  • UX (user experience) design.

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become a technical writer. However, excellent writing skills are required and most employers look for people with a tertiary qualification such as an English degree or certificate in technical communication.

Tertiary qualifications in subjects such as science, engineering, electronics, computer science or commerce are valuable for technical writers in industries where this subject knowledge is required. 

Technical Writer

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