Every organization requires a bridge that connects its technical staff to its consumers – a technically sound person who can unpack intricacies into simpler terms. For this job, they require an entry-level technical writer who can help them attain consistency, accuracy, and clarity within the organization – and beyond.
In this article, we’ll unravel the day-to-day tasks of an entry-level technical writer and the skills they require to perform their duties.
Furthermore, we’ll also give you some tips on covering the distance from an entry-level technical writer to an industry expert.
Let’s jump right in.
What Does an Entry-level Technical Writer Do? [Job Description]
An entry-level technical writer’s job is to employ their technical knowledge to research, document, and present detailed information in easy-to-interpret guides, help manuals, white papers, templates, web pages, videos, journal articles, etc.
A technical writer (also known as a technical communicator) transforms complex information into concise and clear documentation. The word “technical” is affiliated to their jobs because they’re the subject matter experts (SMEs) that work in various advanced domains, including medicine, engineering, computer science, information technology, etc., and create content around topics specific to their expertise.
They enhance the technical communication of companies/ service providers and help them improve the end-users’ experience.
To understand more, here’s a complete breakdown of an entry-level technical writer’s routine tasks and duties:
- Carry out extensive research to craft high-quality software documentation that communicates clear and appropriate terminologies. Define and explain niche-related jargon where necessary.
- Carefully analyze the target audience, create, design, and present technical content in the best possible way. Tailor the document’s knowledge level and specificity according to the target audience’s familiarity with the subject.
- Choose an appropriate medium to deliver content to the audience. Analyze the audience’s behavior and identify its engagement on various platforms and content types. Create content that bodes well for the audience.
- Use visual components such as charts, graphs, lists, etc., to highlight and amplify valuable information. Ensure to include credible and authentic information in the content and through proper citation – if using external sources to back up information.
- Comply with the company’s rules and instructions on creating technical documentation.
- Interact with peers, project managers, technical support staff, technical editors, and other teammates to ensure technical documents' information accuracy, such as API documentation, for example.
- Coordinate with product managers and technical team, and frequently examine mockups, product samples, and Software Requirement Specifications documents to integrate production sequences.
- Update and edit every document to introduce new components added to the associated product, technology, or technique.
- Understand different types of technical writing and coordinate with senior and junior technical writers for specific tasks.
- Edit and update material produced by software development teams/technical staff and comprehend it for the end-users.
- Create documents that reflect the organization’s goals and culture.
- Collect user feedback to update and improve documentation.
Most importantly, an entry-level technical writer should enroll themselves in professional technical writing training, seminars, and courses to continually improve their writing skills and strategies. If you're inclined, then check out our Technical Writing Certification course.
What are the Requirements for an Entry-level Technical Writer? [Skills and Traits]
An entry-level technical writer needs ample technical knowledge, creativity, and a strategic mind to devour information and design content in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Organizations require technical writers to simplify information without losing its technical accuracy and ensure consistency – not just for a single document but also for the entire organization's documentation.
- An entry-level technical writer should possess editing and proofreading skills to deliver documents that are free of grammatical and style errors.
- They should be tech-savvy, have a keen eye for detail, and a mind to grasp technical knowledge.
- They should comprehend complex methods in straightforward step-by-step processes to defy the reader’s ambiguities.
- They should be exceptional at problem-solving and must possess a mind that exhibits patience and persistence.
- Since an entry-level technical writer has to coordinate with SMEs, experienced technical writers, and other stakeholders, they should display outstanding communication skills.
- They should be able to correlate their ideas and communicate them in a logical sequence.
- They should be equipped with using proper layouts and indentation rules in their documents to make it scannable and easily readable.
- An entry-level tech writer should be able to highlight high-value information in their content strategically.
- They should have the ability to craft easily searchable content by labeling indexes, tables of content, roadmaps, etc.
- They must be well-coordinated, agile, highly responsive, and bound to deliver results in the way customers/stakeholders want.
- They should be able to meet deadlines and handle the stress that comes with them.
- Technical writers deal with all sorts of digital tools that help them write and improve their documents. An entry-level technical writer needs to be proficient in tools like Grammarly, MS Word, Hemingway app, Evernote, Freemind, etc.
- Entertain the audience while educating them.
In addition to these skills a technical writer needs, an entry-level technical writer should be curious to learn new things, know how to ask questions from others, and learn from the answers.
What are the Qualifications of an Entry-level Technical Writer?
A college degree will help you win an entry-level technical writer’s position at a firm. Additionally, knowledge of a specific field of study or writing experience reinforces your chances of attaining the job.
Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in English (or in other Language Studies) and sound knowledge of technical fields such as engineering, medicine, or computer science.
Some employers strictly seek candidates with a master’s degree in technical subjects, in addition to certificates and licenses from associations like Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association (for medical writing exclusively).
How Many Hours Does an Entry-level Technical Writer Work?
Typically, a technical writing job requires a minimum of forty hours of work per week.
However, an entry-level technical writer needs to spend more than the typical eight hours of work a day.
During the early days, they might have to juggle their technical training and daily tasks simultaneously. Meeting deadlines, ensuring quality, and proving their worth as a valuable asset for the company may be hard to handle, but necessary for them.
Furthermore, achieving a permanent employee's position at the firm may add to their pile of responsibilities.
As they go up in the company hierarchy, they also may have a team to manage and provide assistance to employees who look up to them.
Can an Entry-level Technical Writer Work from Home?
If they have a personal workstation, an entry-level technical writer can work remotely.
However, regardless of any external factors, a technical writer's job type allows them to work as part-time or full-time employees – depending on the workload.
Usually, a technical writer tends to work alone in an environment with the least amount of distractions. The best environment would be a secluded personal space where no one can bother them.
What is an Entry-level Technical Writer’s Average Salary?
An entry-level technical writer's salary in the United States ranges from $30,000 - $52,000 per year (average salary of $42,682 per year).
According to this calculation, on average, an entry-level technical writer earns $20.52 an hour and $3,557 per month.
However, factors like an employee's work experience, skill level, and location greatly influence their compensation.
What are the Best Practices of an Entry-level Technical Writer?
Technical writing requires extensive practice, editing, and reading.
During the initial phases of their career, technical writers may find writing a stressful job, experience writer’s block, and lack the inspiration to write.
It’s less exhausting if you keep the following best practices in your mind when you’re assigned a new technical writing task:
- Plan wisely – just like any other profession, writing demands a proper plan. Therefore, plan an outline, get it approved by the concerned party, do proper research on the topic, analyze audience demographics, plan the document's scope, and then start composing it. That way, you’ll be able to steer the ideas in your head in a controlled manner.
- Use simple words – your purpose as a technical writer is not to sound smart. Instead, the goal is to impart the knowledge your audience requires. Simplify your content as much as you can and always try to make it useful for the readers.
- Keep the skimmers and power readers in mind – people read technical documents to get answers. They don’t enjoy reading them. They skip unrequired information to achieve an actionable goal in a short time. For such people, technical writers can implement front loading techniques, use infographics, charts, bullet points, and numbered lists, to make their content more precise and direct.
The most crucial step after completing the writing task is to read the piece from the reader’s eyes. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and see if the document would make sense to a layperson.
How to Find Entry-level Technical Writer Jobs?
Switching a job or entering a professional field for the first time is tough.
If you have an excellent academic record or work experience, you are just one search away from finding the job of an entry-level technical writer.
Job seekers can look for opportunities at the desired companies by regularly checking for job openings at their official websites.
Other than that, they can also visit job portals and traverse through the jobs displayed there. They can also filter out irrelevant job postings by target searching for the job title of “Entry-level technical writer.” If applying through job portals, without any internal recommendation, a well-written cover letter and a captivating resume are crucial.
Last but not least, they can subscribe to job alerts at the job portals to never miss an opportunity to find their required job.
How to Become a Great Technical Writer?
Becoming a great technical writer requires an undefeatable resilience and a forward approach toward career development. With the following tips, no one can stop you from achieving your goals as a remarkable technical writer:
- Complete the pre-requisites – without a formal degree, you can learn a skill but not excel at it. Therefore, complete the courses, certifications, and degrees required for technical writing and learn to work strategically. Furthermore, improve your technical knowledge.
- Create a portfolio – curate your best work and create a portfolio out of it. Your best work will help you bag new and better opportunities, therefore showing off your technical and written communication skills in your portfolio is more than just ethical. If you’re an entry-level technical writer and don’t have many samples to provide, start writing on trending topics, the latest products, or current technologies.
- Start networking – joining a professional association of technical writers or becoming a part of communities on Medium, Quora, Slack, etc. can uplift your confidence as a beginner and boost your reputation as an experienced writer. Building a professional network will also help you quickly find jobs and open-source projects.
- Become an industry influencer – stay updated on the latest industry trends and developments. Share your opinions on the new technology, medical findings, or the latest scientific research to stay on top of everything.
As you’ll become an industry renowned technical writer, you can educate others about the technical and communication tactics you apply in your content. That will help you strengthen your concepts, cultivate new methods to improve your style and learn the necessary technical writing elements.
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 fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.