What Does a Technical Writer Intern Do?
Technical writing is a complex field that can require years of experience. That kind of experience is necessary for the industry you're in and for your writing skills. The best way to start your technical writing career is to take up a technical writer intern job to learn the fundamentals.
However, to become a technical writer intern, you must have developed your writing and communication skills. As a technical writer intern, you will learn more about the organization, industry, and the subject matter you want to develop a niche in.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at a technical writer intern's roles, duties, and abilities.
Let's get started.
What Does a Technical Writer Intern Do? Typical Roles in Organizations
A technical writer intern is an entry-level position in the technical writing field. Depending on the industry and organization, it can be a trainee position or a full-blown job that leads to a technical writer position. If you're interested in learning about the technical writer intern job description via video, watch below:
Technical writing interns often receive pay and have experience in content writing, business writing, or other forms of writing. In some cases, they may be knowledgeable in a specific subject and opt for technical writing in their field due to their knowledge of the subject matter.
In any case, the role of the technical writer intern and their job description depends on the organization. For example, if it's a medical company, they would prefer hiring someone who has some experience in medical writing or has knowledge of the medical industry. However, since it's a complicated field, the company would initially hire the person through a paid internship to check if they're a good fit. The company will then hire the candidate as a technical writer.
Most companies in such industries tend to work the same way. It's a great way to bring out qualified applicants and check their skills, knowledge, and overall compatibility with the company before going through the trouble of hiring them.
Some internship programs don't necessarily give technical writer interns direct tasks. The internship sometimes trains the intern on the industry and organization and how the products or services work. That means technical writer interns may have to train besides software development and software engineer interns, too, at times.
On the other hand, some organizations hire software engineering, project management, computer science, or information technology experts and turn them into technical writers.
In any case, the role of a technical writer intern depends on the industry and company.
Technical Writer Intern Duties and Tasks
Since every technical writer intern may have varying roles, their duties, tasks, and responsibilities tend to be slightly different. However, most technical writing intern jobs have a few typical duties and tasks in all cases. It doesn't matter whether it's a virtual technical writing intern job, part-time, full-time, or another kind.
In any case, the following duties, tasks, and responsibilities are what the typical technical writing intern has to complete.
- Work under the technical writing team and other team members to learn about the industry and organization.
- Learn about technical communication, technical documentation, and other technical concepts related to the organization.
- Work co-op with product managers, product designers, and other stakeholders to learn more about the company's products and services.
- Work in the information development cycle to draft, revise, and validate a series of technical documents.
- Assist in writing technical documentation in different cases, including white papers, case studies, user manuals, and more.
- Offer suggestions to improve technical documentation.
- Work with expert writers and editors to learn the technical writing fundamentals of the industry.
- Design, write, update, and maintain various online guides, documentation, and even API documentation in some cases.
- Proofread various new technical documents and other deliverables before they reach the editors.
- Research on competitor products and services and work out any issues in their technical documentation. After that, develop a plan to ensure your organization's products and services don't make the same mistake and update any relevant documentation.
- Work closely with subject matter experts depending on your organization and industry. For example, if you're working at an IT firm, you may have to learn basic HTML or CSS to develop better technical documentation.
Most technical writer interns can expect the duties, responsibilities, and tasks listed above. However, each organization will have industry-specific duties.
If you're interested in learning more about breaking into a technical writing role, check out our Technical Writing Certification Course.
Technical Writing Intern Skills and Abilities
While the tasks and duties of technical writer interns remain relatively similar, the skills and abilities required for the job will be different depending on the industry. Depending on the organization's hiring objectives, various skills and qualifications requirements change.
On average, a technical writer intern should have the following qualifications, skills, and abilities.
- A high school diploma and a bachelor's degree in technical communication or any related field is required by most. Having a degree in a field related to your industry can also be a requirement, although not a necessity.
- Some experience in technical writing, the industry, or any other form of writing is favored but not necessarily required.
- Familiarity with some technical concepts and knowledge of the subject matter is required, especially if the industry is highly technical. For example, if the company works with machine learning and AI, the intern will be required to have some fundamental knowledge about the subject's inner workings.
- Complete proficiency in the English language is needed, with excellent grammar, sentence structure, and more.
- The candidate should use various Microsoft Office programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
- Some experience with using templates and samples may be required.
- You may need basic graphic design, image manipulation, and video skills.
- Excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills are needed.
- Should have a learning nature and have strong attention to detail.
- In some cases, excellent proofreading skills and fast typing speed may be a requirement.
Most companies focus on equal employment, so you don't have to worry about discrimination based on race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other factor.
How to Become a Technical Writer Intern
According to ZipRecruiter, the average technical writer intern salaries in the United States round to $53,110. The typical range for the average salary is between $13,500 and $107,000, with cities like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Sioux Falls, Clearwater, and Troutville offering the highest salaries.
While most technical writer intern salaries are near or below the national average, some organizations offer extremely high salaries that increase the average. Such companies usually have the job posting as a precursor for hiring technical writers, thus the high salary. Other than that, most major companies like Intel, HBO, Splunk, LinkedIn, and Titan America tend to offer a salary between $39,000 and $48,000.
In any case, the technical writer intern tends to earn more if the industry is more technical. For example, technical writer interns in the medical and computer science industry would earn more than their counterparts in HR or digital marketing.
In salary, it's fair to assume that becoming a technical writer intern requires fundamental knowledge of your industry and great writing skills. That means you would need prior working experience in any related field.
To become a technical writer, you just have to ensure you have enough working knowledge of your industry and the organization you want to work in. Furthermore, you should polish your English and writing skills to make sure you understand how to write user-friendly content.
It's wise to opt for some technical writing certifications and courses to get you started. If you continue with such courses, you can quickly learn most of the tasks and duties of technical writer interns.
Becoming a Great Technical Writer Intern
Becoming a great technical writer intern is not only about writing high-quality technical documentation. The ideal candidate would translate complex information into easy-to-understand bits for the general public.
Most technical writer intern job alerts focus on specific industry-based knowledge. Therefore, it's best to stick with a niche and focus your efforts on that specific niche. It's easier to gather more knowledge and understanding of one niche or industry.
In any case, you should continue to develop your professional career through online training, certifications, and courses to become a better technical writer intern. In the end, all these efforts, combined with the experience you get from the role will power your resume and help you secure excellent entry-level technical writing positions.
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.