What Does a Remote Technical Writer Do?

Updated on November 18th, 2020
What Does a Remote Technical Writer Do?

Over the past couple of decades, the demand for experienced technical writing professionals has increased substantially. Thanks to cutting-edge team collaboration tools, technical writers can work from any corner of the world. Today, you can easily find employment as a remote technical writer.

However, “remote technical writer” is a broad term, and in order to understand what remote technical writer jobs entail, we’ll have to take a closer look from a general perspective into their job description. 

Therefore, in this article, we’ll give you a detailed description of the remote technical writer's typical roles and responsibilities, their skills/abilities, and the remote technical writer's job qualifications.

Let’s get started. 

Who is a Remote Technical Writer?

Remote technical writers (also known as technical communicators) work outside of their company's location and are responsible for making complex technical concepts and information into structured technical documents that are easy to comprehend.

Furthermore, as the job title entails, remote technical writers aren’t hired as full-time in-house employees.

For example, you may be an experienced technical writer living in San Francisco working for a company located in Seattle.  

Furthermore, people also find it hard to differentiate between copywriters, content writers, freelance technical writers, and remote technical writers. 

They differ in their purpose. Content writers create written material for educating, informing, or entertaining a brand audience. Copywriters, on the other hand, writer for appealing to the brand audience in order to sell a product or service. 

A remote technical writer, on the other hand, writes to bridge the gap between complex technology and their users. 

What Does a Remote Technical Writer Do? [Typical Roles and Responsibilities]

Remote technical writers are expected to create different types of industry-specific technical content for an organization. 

Therefore, their exact roles and responsibilities may differ based on the industries they belong to, their experience level (entry-level/junior technical writer or senior technical writer), and even their job type (part-time or full-time). 

However, their typical duties and responsibilities relevant to most organizations are:

  • Conduct consistent research on target audience/final users in order to understand their needs and requirements from a technical document. 
  • Analyze and interpret all available technical information relevant to the company’s technology, its products, and services. 
  • Plan and create different types of technical documents, as per company needs to aid its product and software development process.
  • Edit, modify and update technical/product documentation after employees and final users provide feedback. 
  • Manage and organize company’s database and store all important technical documents. 
  • Collaborate with subject matter experts in the entire writing process from writing samples to final documents. 
  • Consult other technical writers on progress, get expert opinion, and garner reviews.

Most importantly, incorporate visual representation of information (such as, illustrations, infographics, and graphs) in order to make technical content more user friendly. 

What Does a Remote Technical Writer Need? [Skills and Abilities]

In order to succeed at their jobs, technical writing professionals need to have a diverse set of skills and abilities pertinent to their industry requirements. 

However, all remote technical writers share the following general skills and abilities: 

Communication Skills

For effective technical communication, and to perform their job functions, remote technical writers know how to understand and communicate with people from all walks of life, depending on their special requirements.

When it comes to communicating, remote technical writers communicate with purpose, are clear, and holistic in their message. They have a positive yet encouraging tone, and they deliver technical documentations with confidence in their expertise, incorporating the opinions of others with the only goal to help the readers understand technical information. 

Technical Skills

A remote technical writer needs ample technical skill, most of which have to be specific to their industry. 

Those skills are derived from the interest of the subject matter of the company. 

Regardless, some popular technical skills that are relevant to most industries include: 

  • Project Management – time-constrained use of knowledge and skills to complete a specific project of the company. 
  • Product Development – the process of creating a new product for the company or modifying and improving the already existing one. 
  • Marketing – the ability to communicate technical knowledge of product and services to the target audience. 
  • User Experience (UX) Design – the entire process of creating products and services that adds value to the audience life. 
  • Programming Languages and Their Basics – the foundations of programming language such as web layout (HTML and CSS) and applications used for technology and software development such as API (application programming interface) and Python.

If you're looking to learn more about the skills to succeed in the technical writing role, then check out our Technical Writing Certification Course.

Research Skills 

All remote technical writers need advanced researching skills to create error-free content for their technical audience. 

They mostly engage in two types of researches. Once before the technical document is created – known as audience and requirements analysis –and another after the technical document is created to enhance the user-experience.

Audience analysis is the entire writing process that includes back and forth feedback from target users to understand their technical knowledge level, needs, and what they’re expecting from technology. 

On the other hand, user experience-based research conducted to assess how final users perceive technical documentation of any technology – to see if it was helpful or not. 

Writing Skills

Technical writers are expected to know how to create different types of technical content, and for that purpose, they must follow their specific templates and different writing styles.  

The common types of technical document they are expected to create are user manuals, FAQs for online audience, technical reports for stakeholders, company policies and procedures related to technology, case studies, white paper, press releases, etc. 

Apart from knowing how to write technical documents, they must also know to write them on their specific software, used by their company. 

At the same time, it is worth noting, a remote technical writer might also be responsible for creating only one type of technical document in an organization. For instance, a writer may only be responsible proposal writing, and the job posting specifies it in the title, and for that reason they’re referred to as a “Technical Proposal Writer.” 

Editing Skills

A remote technical writer must possess the ability to critically evaluate their technical documents, edit and format them, and make necessary changes until it become entirely understood by the target audience receiving the technical information. 

They make sure that when they are editing technical samples after feedback, they keep checks on its overall content, omitting anything unnecessary, be careful about the word usage and vocabulary of the audience, the correct spellings and punctuations, and the overall tone.  

All in all, they make sure that technical documents are following their specific formats. 

Design Skills 

To make technical documents interactive and appealing, technical writers are not only supposed to incorporate information in the form of text, but also represent it visually – graphs, videos, infographics, etc. 

Therefore, most remote technical writers have the basic proficiency in skills like information design, information architecture, graphic designing, typography, etc.

However, even if they don’t possess any of the aforementioned skills, they can always rely on professionals who do. For that reason, a remote technical writer – despite being in a different location – needs to have a knack for teamwork.  

How to Become a Remote Technical Writer? [Qualifications and Experience]

If you’re planning to become a remote technical writer, there are certain prerequisites that you’ll have to meet. 

Here’s what most employers demand:

  • Education – a bachelor’s degree in a technical field such as Computer Science, Information Technology, Engineering, etc. However, if you have a degree in a non-technical field such as Journalism, English, or Communications, you are required to have industry specific knowledge and experience. 
  • Training and Certifications – skills-based training through online courses (such as, content development, graphic designing, software, etc), vocational diploma, and/or technical writing certifications from organizations such as Society for Technical Communication.
  • Experience – preferably 2-4 years of experience as a technical writer/editor for industries such as engineering, information technology, and other related fields. 

However, the above-mentioned eligibility criteria aren’t strict, and can be flexible depending on the industry/company you’re applying for. 

Wrapping it Up

Since technology is taking over all industries, the need for technical writers will always be relevant. Companies are in need of competent technical communicators to make technology accessible and easy to use. 

Therefore, if you’re looking to apply for a remote technical writer job, you need to make sure that you have a keen interest in technology and its communication with humans, the required set of skills, and a burning passion for explaining technical information.