If you are looking for an engaging and challenging career where you are valued for your contribution to the work of an impactful team, technical writing may be just what you’re looking for. Technical writing careers, or technical communications, are growing in popularity, and it’s not hard to see why. They are ranked 85th in the top 100 best jobs, according to U.S. News. They are compensated competitively, hold a relatively low barrier to entry. For those willing to invest their time and develop these skills, the work can be gratifying.
But it’s not the sort of work one stumbles into. It takes specific skills and abilities to earn your success as a technical writer. Here are the top 5 skills you need to make it work.
1. Research Skills
Technical writers are like detectives in their own way. They do a lot of research to get the answers they need to the questions they know their readers will want to know. In their work to explain products, processes, and other technical content, technical writers know how important it is to get to the root of a problem and ask the hard questions to help get the answers they need. If there is any confusion or inconsistency, they can be the first defense line if provided the support and resources they need to hunt down and untangle the confusion. Research skills are what help them get to the root of the problem.
2. Attention to Detail
As we all know, sometimes in business, a gap in the process doesn’t present itself clearly until it is causing problems at scale. But technical writers are equipped with the attention to detail that can identify issues before they even cause a problem further down the line. Sometimes, it just takes an extra set of eyes to come in and see that something seems off. Knowing how important those little details are can make a technical writer instrumental to a business’s long-term success.
3. Technical Expertise
When you are researching as much as a technical writer does, you can’t help but build a full and detailed understanding of the project or service you are acting in support of. Technical writers quickly become subject matter experts on their core subject and are often relied on to find information or share knowledge. Not all subject matter experts make good technical writers. Still, you can be doubly sure that if you are a technical writer on a specific product, process, or service, you will be required to communicate with a certain degree of technical expertise to accurately and effectively communicate the right content in the right way.
4. Problem-Solving Skills
While it’s probably true that every job requires good problem solving to a certain degree, technical writers are the ones who literally write the book on problem-solving. They must be skilled in this area to accomplish their goal of delivering accurate and readable documentation of a product or process. If there’s a problem, a technical writer will likely be the first to notice it and ask the right questions to learn more about it, then think strategically about how they can help solve the problem. With a full and detailed understanding of the process or product, they are explaining. Technical writers need to tie up any loose ends or find someone who can.
5. Writing Skills
Last but certainly not least, a technical writer needs to be skilled at written communication. Things like grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and readability are critical to your success in this role. Without those skills as a foundation, all the other skills won’t serve you as well in this role. But any great writer can become a great technical writer when they set their mind to it.
Connect with the Team
For more advice on what it takes to become a technical writer, connect with the team at ESGI today.