What Does a Documentation Manager Do?
A documentation manager is the leader of the documentation team at a company.
Documentation managers oversee the company's technical documents to ensure a cohesive voice representing the company and its message. As a documentation manager, you would be responsible for creating, maintaining, and releasing company documents as well as filing and storage.
In addition to working to ensure compliance, a document manager is in charge of creating templates, drafting style guides, making training materials, and managing technical writers as well.
If the documentation manager is working in SaaS, for example, they are also in charge of updating the documentation in online help centers. They also authorize documents with final approval, speak at conferences, and create company style guides or dictionaries.
A document manager can also train new hires and existing technical writers about new programs, policies, and procedures. A documentation manager might even work with servers to manage document storage and access approval.
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Document Manager Job Description
In a document manager job description, you will see that a documentation manager makes user guides, technical specs, and release notes.
If you look at a documentation manager's resume, you might notice the documentation manager takes responsibility for technical papers and their maintenance in general.
Document managers make sure that:
- Each technical writer follows the same tone of voice.
- Each document follows the style guide and template.
- Each document publishes on time.
- Old documents get archived, and new ones get uploaded.
- Assignment workflows are efficient and productive.
- Documents maintain the proper structure.
- Online records link to the correct locations.
When companies need hard copies, document managers oversee their filing as well. For example, in a legal firm, document managers maintain legal documents and evidence to keep its security and safety.
In a doctor's office or medical records setting such as insurance, the document manager manages medical records and their filing as well. In short, document managers keep documents in line with the industry, company, and legal standards.
Documentation Manager Education Requirements
A college degree or a credible technical writing certification is necessary to become a documentation manager.
Most documentation managers have a Bachelor's degree in business, English, or communication and previous experience as a senior technical writer.
With experience as a senior technical writer working on all kinds of documents, documentation managers better understand the intricacies of documentation, written communication skills, and compliance.
If you want to become a document manager, you should familiarize yourself with standard publishing tools for industry-specific documents.
In today's market, knowing at least one coding language is also helpful for online documents.
Document Manager Skills
On top of having a background as a technical writer, other valuable skills can help you succeed among documentation managers.
- Experience working on large documentation projects or a document management plan.
- Knowledge of technical documentation rules and best practices.
- Knowledge of documentation styles like the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS).
- Knowledge of project management or work as a project management coordinator.
- Experience as a manager or team leader.
- Understanding documentation structure and document control.
- Experience working with many content management systems.
- Experience creating style guides and templates for document control.
- Experience working with servers and document management systems.
- Knowledge of at least one coding language.
- Experience working with different departments such as technical writers, product managers, developers, and customer service.
- Excellent research skills to verify and review documents.
- Excellent data entry and detail-oriented abilities.
- Experience working on online educational materials.
How to Become a Document Manager
To become a document manager, you need to have a Bachelor's degree and previous experience as a technical writer.
It is beneficial to have a background in leadership or some experience training others as well as the ability to ensure compliance through document management experience.
Documentation managers are well-rounded professionals responsible for all kinds of tasks, usually with a background as a senior technical writer.
If you keep up-to-date on the latest document management trends, you are already in step with becoming a documentation manager.
You might also attend networking events to meet others in the field and create a solid portfolio to showcase your skills. Include samples from different jobs and employers to display your abilities.
Then, you can use social media outlets to set a job alert for exciting opportunities in your area. If you take these steps, you will be on the path to becoming a documentation manager.
Is It the Right Career for You?
A documentation manager is the core of a company's technical documentation. Their role requires expertise in technical writing, communication, and leadership.
A documentation manager handles the release and management of a company's technical communications. They ensure documents are free from error, in line with brand voices, and valuable to their target consumers.
With the rise in demand for technical communication, document manager jobs are openly available. Documentation managers can also move into related job titles such as project managers, training managers, or online education course creators.
Documentation Manager Salary
The average salary for a document manager is $40 per hour or $83,310 per year. The highest salary for a documentation specialist is approximately $135,000 a year, ranging to $51,000 a year at lesser-paying companies.
Document managers act as an authority on an industry's technical documentation and information communication to customers in software, business, and law.
A documentation manager has significant responsibilities, working with tight deadlines, managing teams of writers, ensuring compliance, and authorizing final publication and storage.
If you are new to technical writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.