When it comes to the best 50 careers in 2011, I was pleasantly surprised to find that technical writing is on the list.
Back in 1999 when I launched Affordable Words, my focus was 100% as a technical writer for software applications and policies/procedures. I wrote user guides, developed online help systems, created training materials, and produced policy/procedure information. (I do not write anything related to hardware: e.g., how you assemble it, how it works, etc.).
To this day, that education process via documentation is still my passion. (My husband has always said the Affordable Words was “magic” in our lives.)
Over the past 6 years, the type of work technical writers do has changed. In fact, it’s grown substantially. This is great news for those of us with years of experience and a substantial technical aptitude. This resurgence has once again opened up this field.
The #1 thing you must know about technical writing and technical writers is that EXPERIENCE is what’s required. A college degree gives someone the skills at a very basic level, but the maturity and and ability to work in an engineering development environment comes from working “in the trenches.” (They simply cannot teach that in school.) For example, I am certified as a Paralegal and Interior Design. However, while obtaining those certifications (from 1979 to 1981), my apparent affinity for technical writing surfaced. (I have been a creative writer from the time I was very little – and still am today). Having 30+ years of experience has allowed and does allow me to be a much better option for customers who need it done now and need it done right!
The types of software applications on the market today are far more than the traditional client-desktop. There is the web, mobile devices and the list goes on. To be successful in those arenas, the technical writer must have a solid foundation to draw upon – otherwise the learning curve is going to become overwhelming (and the work will suffer).
So, what is the message in all this? That no matter how far we advance technologically, the need for technical writers is always going to be there. And those with a solid background of skills honed before the technological age have a lot more to offer!