Technical writers enable organizations to communicate a variety of complex technical information in a user-friendly manner to its employees and target audience. However, apart from technical writing, a technical writer’s job description also entails the application of a diverse set of knowledge and competencies.
Therefore, the most effective way to attract the right candidate for your organization is to craft a detailed and comprehensive technical writer job description.
Considering how a technical writer’s role varies depending on the type of the organization, in this article, we will list the typical roles, responsibilities, and required qualifications of a technical writer that are relevant to all industries.
Let’s start identifying what technical writers do.
What Does a Technical Writer Do? [Typical Roles in Organizations]
Technical writers often called technical communicators are responsible for writing, editing, and rephrasing a variety of technical concepts pertinent to the industry technology and software into easy to understand technical documents.
These technical documents include (but are not limited to) software or product proposals/policies, instruction manuals, training guides, reports, journal articles, etc.
A technical writer’s job is relatively flexible in an organization. In larger organizations, they are typically assigned into project workgroups with other technical writers, while in the case of smaller organizations, they usually work alone.
However, some organizations allow their technical writers to work remotely, in turn removing location and time constraints for qualified job seekers.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning, since technological advancements are taking over almost every industry, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the demand for technical writers between the years 2019 to 2029 is increasing at a rate (7%) faster than the average (4%) for all occupations. As a consequence, technical writers' salary average is increasing.
If you're interested in landing your dream technical writing job, then check out our Technical Writing Certification Course.
Technical Writer Job Description [Template]
The perfect technical writer job description template requires a lot more than simply listing down the skills and responsibilities of the job title. In order to attract the best potential candidates, it is crucial to follow the steps of a well-written job description.
Having said that, the first step is to prepare a descriptive job brief (another term for job summary). This job brief will outline what the job entails, and the necessary skills and qualifications needed to perform the job functions.
Here’s a ready-to-use template for a technical writer job brief that you can modify according to your industry-specific needs:
“Our company is looking for a highly qualified professional with at least X years of experience to join our team as a full-time technical writer.
As a technical writer, you’ll be responsible for creating simplified user content, including, but not limited to, technical manuals, training guides, journal articles, tutorials, and software documentation, while having subject matter experts guide you through the entire process in order to make complex information accessible to employees and target audience.
Your efforts will result in smooth technical communication (print and audio-visual) between the technology developers and different departments, key stakeholders, and target customers.
Furthermore, you might be consulted for writing software/product policies with different teams of software developers and product managers.”
It is important to note that a job summary is the first thing job seekers see when looking for your technical writer job posting, therefore avoid diving knee-deep into the specifics, and be as concise and clear as possible.
Technical Writer Job Description [Typical Duties and Responsibilities]
Since “technical writer” is a broad term for writers that create industry-specific technical content, their exact duties and responsibilities vary from organization to organization.
However, their general duties and responsibilities are similar across most organizations.
Therefore, here is a list of some typical duties and responsibilities of a technical writer that you can make specific according to your industry-specific needs:
- Plan, create, and modify, different technical documents including user specifications, manuals, and test plans to facilitate the software and product development process.
- Consult software and technology subject matter experts in order to review, modify, and revise complex documentation for all departments, employees, and audience.
- Assess and evaluate the user and employee needs and level of knowledge relevant to technical documentation.
- Interpret complex software/product features and functions and translate them into a concise, relevant, and readable format.
- Collaborate with product designers and developers to study product samples and make instructions easier to comprehend.
- Report to senior technical writers on progress and review of technical content.
- Proofread and edit content created by team members and other writing staff.
- Integrate user-friendly content in illustrations, graphs, and infographics for enhanced user experience.
- Write, review, and organize online help content to facilitate end-users.
- Select and adopt a uniform writing style across all media and other platforms for consistency within and outside the organization.
- Indulge in user research for feedback, revisions, and improvement in technical content.
Apart from the above, depending upon the level of scientific and technical knowledge, technical writers might get involved in product/software development teams, leading product usability research and analyzing product design for improvements.
Technical Writer Job Description [Qualifications and Experience]
The eligibility criteria for a technical writer’s job posting usually emphasize on the level of scientific and technical knowledge of the prospective employee. However, sometimes employers forget to specify the subject areas for the desired knowledge, which creates confusion amongst potential candidates.
Therefore, it is imperative to clearly communicate the demand for qualifications and experience in the job description.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few general prerequisites, an ideal candidate is advised to meet in order to apply for a technical writing job position:
- Education – at least a bachelor’s degree in a technical field such as Computer Science, Engineering, etc. If the employee has a degree in a non-technical field such as Journalism, English, or Communications, they are required to have technical and scientific knowledge and training.
- Certifications – technical writing certifications from organizations such as Society for Technical Communication, or training from other institutions reflects competency and professionalism of the candidate.
- Experience – preferably 2-4 years of experience as a technical writer for engineering, IT, management, or other related industries (such as consumer electronics, computer systems and designs, software publishers, etc.). If you don’t have technical writing experience, you can be considered if you have prior experience in design and development, have worked as a research assistant, or a specialist in a technical field.
Furthermore, almost all technical writers are skilled in a diverse set of writing tools and software which you can specify in the job description.
Technical Writer Job Description [Typical Skills and Abilities]
This is the last section of your technical writer job description, which includes the skills and capabilities expected from an ideal candidate.
Here are some in-demand skills that you should look for in a candidate:
- Technical Skills – technical writers must possess diverse knowledge of complex technical subjects and fields in order to understand technical information before making it easier for others.
- Writing Skills – it is a given that technical writers must possess excellent written communication skills, in order to clearly deliver solutions as per the needs of users within the technical framework.
- Communication Skills – since technical writers are responsible for consistently finding ways to make communication easier between professionals from technical fields and non-experts (employees from different fields, and majority of the target audience), it is only natural that they themselves are communication experts.
- Detail Oriented – the job of a technical writer includes creating comprehensive guides and manuals, which require an organized thought process and the ability to be clear, precise, and as detailed as possible in order to break down complex technical information into easily understood digestible parts.
- Teamwork – the major goal of a technical writer is to bring everyone involved with the organization on a uniform level of communication, and in order to achieve that, it is important to collaborate, understand, and work well with other writers, developers, users, editors, designers, etc.
Again – technical knowledge and skill competencies are different across all industries. It is advisable to clearly describe the subject areas that are most relevant to your industry in the list while putting together the interview questions.
Becoming the Ideal Technical Writer
Whether you’re an employer looking for ways to craft the perfect technical writer job description or a junior employee wishing to become a technical writer, technical writers are individuals that are constantly expanding their knowledge and competencies in order to meet the demands of evolving technology.
When it comes to choosing your next hire or taking on the technical writer career path, you should bear in mind that the best technical writer out there is the one that is committed to finding creative ways to create user-friendly content.
Therefore, as an employee you shouldn’t compromise on a dedicated candidate for missing a few ticks in the job description boxes, nor should a student forego knowledge and skills opportunities during their technical writing career.
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.