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. 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.
What is a Remote Technical Writer?
Remote technical writers (also known as technical communicators) work outside of their company's location. They 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. On the other hand, copywriters write to appeal to the brand audience to sell a product or service. A remote technical writer writes to bridge the gap between complex technology and its users.
Remote Technical Writer Roles and Responsibilities
Remote technical writers create different 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 to understand their needs and requirements from a technical document.
- Analyze and interpret all available technical information relevant to its technology, products, and services.
- Plan and create different 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 the company's database and store all critical 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 an expert opinion, and garner reviews.
Most importantly, incorporate a visual representation of information (such as illustrations, infographics, and graphs) to make technical content more user-friendly.
Remote Technical Writer Skills and Abilities
Technical writing professionals need to have diverse skills and abilities to synthesize corporate and technical information for a general audience to succeed at their jobs. All remote technical writers share the following general skills and abilities:
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 unique requirements.
When it comes to communicating, remote technical writers stick to purpose, clarity, and completeness in their message. They have a positive yet encouraging tone. Confidence and expertise come through the technical documents they deliver, synthesizing the insights of others to help readers understand technical information.
A remote technical writer needs excellent technical skills. Those skills emerge from an interest in and the interests of the company's product.
Regardless, some popular technical skills that are relevant to most industries include:
- Project Management—time-constrained use of knowledge and skills to complete a company's specific project.
- Product Development—creating a new product for the company or modifying and improving the already existing one.
- Marketing—the ability to communicate technical knowledge of products and services to the target audience.
- User Experience (UX) Design—the entire process of creating products and services that adds value to the audience's 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, check out our Technical Writing Certification Course.
All remote technical writers need advanced researching skills to create error-free content for their technical audience.
They mainly engage in two types of researches. Once before the technical document is created—known as audience and requirements analysis—and after the technical document is designed 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, technical writers conduct user experience-based research to assess how final users perceive technical documentation of any technology—if it was helpful or not.
Technical writers know how to create different types of technical content, and for that purpose, they must follow their specific templates and other writing styles.
The common types of technical documents they create include user manuals, FAQs for online audiences, technical reports for stakeholders, company policies and procedures related to technology, case studies, white paper, and press releases.
Apart from writing 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 that a remote technical writer might also be responsible for creating only one type of technical documentation in an organization. For instance, a writer may only carry responsibility for proposal writing, and the job posting specifies it in the title. For that reason, they might be called a "Technical Proposal Writer."
A remote technical writer must possess the ability to critically evaluate their technical documents, edit and format them, and make necessary changes until they 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.
To make technical documents interactive and appealing, technical writers are supposed to incorporate the information in text and represent it visually through graphs, videos, infographics, and images.
Therefore, most remote technical writers have basic proficiency in information design, information architecture, graphic designing, typography, etc. If they don't possess such skills, they may rely on peer professionals. For that reason, a remote technical writer—despite being in a different location—needs to have a knack for teamwork.
How Can You Become a Remote Technical Writer?
If you're planning to become a remote technical writer, there are specific 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, or Engineering. However, if you have a degree in a non-technical field such as Journalism, English, or Communications, you must have industry-specific knowledge and experience.
- Training and Certifications—skills-based training through online courses (such as content development, graphic designing, or software), vocational diploma, and technical writing certifications from organizations like Society for Technical Communication.
- Experience—preferably two to four years of experience as a technical writer or editor for engineering, information technology, and other related fields.
These criteria aren't strict and can be flexible depending on the employing company.
Wrapping it Up
Since technology is taking over all industries, the need for technical writers will always be relevant. Companies need 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.
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.