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Career in Technical Writing

The old adage that there's no money in writing actually isn't true. Technical writing is one type of writing that pays quite well - the average technical writer's salary is $61,000 annually. For anyone who wants to make a living wordsmithing, this figure can make technical writing look like an attractive option. It takes more to be a good technical writer than just knowing your grammar backwards and forwards, though. Technical writing requires a specialized skill set that not every good writer possesses.

First and foremost, technical writers need to have good writing and communication skills. Many people in this field have bachelor's degrees, communications, or journalism. No one wants to read a how-to manual or user guide that's riddled with punctuation errors or that's too confusing to follow, so a good grasp of language is a must. Technical writers also need to have a knack for being clear and concise in their writing. The heart of this job involves distilling a complicated process or application into simple, step-by-step prose that the average user can understand without difficulty, so a straightforward style is required for this type of writing.

As important as writing skills are, it's equally important that technical writers understand the type of technology they're writing about. Most technical writers specialize in one particular discipline, such as the medical field, finance, or software. It's essential for a writer to understand their area of specialization inside and out so that they can produce writing that's comprehensible to lay people. Many technical writers worked in their field of technology before taking up writing, and some have science or technology degrees. If you're a good writer but tech-averse, look into taking classes or getting a job to learn about the type of technology you're interested in writing about.

To succeed as a technical writer, it's necessary to have a calm, methodical mindset. Technical writing involves a lot of testing, troubleshooting, and repetitive, detailed work. If you're the type of person who gets bored easily or requires novelty at your job, this career might not agree with you. Technical writers need to be patient enough to work through problems and bugs without getting frustrated, willing to learn all the ins and outs of whatever they're writing about, and painstakingly thorough to make sure they've covered every aspect of using an appliance or a program.

A final, often-overlooked skill that technical writers need to have is the ability to communicate well in person. Technical writers often have to meet with clients and discuss their goals and expectations for an assignment. It's important for writers to build rapport with clients and understand what they need from a particular project. Technical writers should also be diligent about keeping up with their communication, updating clients about how projects are going, and promptly addressing any difficulties that arise during the course of a project.

Technical writing can be a lucrative and rewarding career for people who enjoy writing and technology. With the more recent focus on website content, many technical writers qualify for professional SEO services. To succeed in this field, you'll need not just technical expertise and writing ability but also the ability to communicate well with others and focus on details. If you have these traits, this career might be a good fit for you.

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