What Is Technical Writing & How To Become One

After spending 15 years as a technical writer, I’ve come to love my job. The best part is that I get to sit at home and write, which means that I only work when I want to. 

That said, there are many other benefits to being a technical writer. For example, it’s an extremely versatile career path that gives you the freedom to work from home or even travel the world while still earning a steady income. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming one of these talented individuals:

What is Technical Writing? | Writing Genre Fundamentals
– Technical writing is a crucial communication skill that simplifies complex information for diverse audiences.
– Becoming a technical writer involves understanding various industries, products, or services and conveying that information clearly.
– Strong writing skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work with subject matter experts are essential for success in this field.
– Technical writers often collaborate with developers, engineers, and other professionals to create accurate and user-friendly documentation.
– Pursuing continuous learning, staying updated on industry trends, and refining your writing style are key to thriving as a technical writer.
– Building a portfolio of diverse writing samples can help showcase your expertise and attract potential employers or clients.

What Is Technical Writing?

Technical writing is the process of writing documentation for a technical product. In other words, it’s the art and science of creating instructions that help users navigate how to use a product.

Technical writers create manuals, help files, and other materials that explain how to use a product. They write for audiences with varying levels of technical knowledge but all tech-savvy readers will appreciate technical writers who don’t assume readers know more than they do about technology or software in general.

Although this is not always the case, technical writers often work for companies that produce technical products such as software programs or hardware devices like cell phones or computers. 

They may also work in fields like healthcare, manufacturing, or aerospace engineering where there are many different types of technologies used daily by consumers both professional (i.e., engineers) as well as nonprofessional (i.e., consumers).

Building a successful career in technical writing requires careful planning and dedication. Learn how to construct a path to success by reading our guide on How to Build a Technical Writing Career You Can Enjoy, and start crafting your journey today.

Why Do Technical Writers Exist

Technical writers exist because they write instructions and manuals for products and services. These documents describe how to use a product or service, provide information about the product or service, and any other relevant details that would help others understand how to use it.

Technical writers also write documentation for software applications. This can include computer programs that are used by businesses or individuals (like Microsoft Word), video games, websites, and mobile apps (like Facebook). 

Technical writing allows users of these products and services to understand what they’re supposed to do with them when they get them home from the store.

Types Of Technical Writers

Technical writers can specialize in different areas, such as software development, computer hardware, and technical writing for specific industries. There are many different types of technical writers:

Software developers write instructions and documentation for software products. They create tutorials, user manuals, and other documents that help users learn how to use programs correctly.

Computer hardware specialists provide detailed instructions on how to assemble or disassemble computers (or other electronic devices) so that they work properly.

Specialist technical writers write instruction manuals for businesses or organizations that sell their services or products to specific markets like healthcare professionals or automotive repair shops. This is often referred to as “business-to-business” (B2B) communication because it is primarily aimed at other businesses rather than consumers.

Have you ever wondered what the daily life of a technical writer looks like? Gain insights into the profession and its challenges in our article about What It’s Like to Be a Technical Writer, and get a firsthand perspective from industry experts.

Who Hires Technical Writers?

Technical writers are employed by all kinds of companies. In fact, you can find them at every level of a company’s hierarchy and in many different departments. Companies that sell products and services to other businesses hire technical writers to create documentation for their products. 

These people might work in marketing or sales departments, where they create brochures, websites, and other marketing materials to promote their products. They also might be involved with the creation of technical proposals that explain the benefits of using one product over another (for example, explaining why Company A would be better than Company B).

Companies that sell products directly to consumers also employ technical writers to write instructions on how products should be used safely and effectively by customers. 

Technical writers employed by retail stores may provide instructions on how to install home appliances such as televisions or washing machines; they may also write manuals for consumer electronics like computers or mobile phones

Job Titles For Technical Writers

As you can see, the job titles for technical writers are varied. All of them serve the same basic function of translating technical information into easily digestible and usable formats for those who need to know it. These individuals make sure that what’s written is clear and accurate so that people can understand it well enough to use it effectively.

Here are some examples:

Technical Writer, This person writes documents that explain how to use or install a piece of equipment, software, or other product. He or she may also write manuals for other users within a company on how something works, such as an employee handbook explaining benefits provided by an organization.

Documentation Specialist-This individual works with technical writers but has a more specialized role than just writing comprehensive instructions in their own right; instead, they focus on making sure these instructions are free from errors before they go out into the world via print or digital publication channels like websites, etc.

How To Become A Technical Writer (The Steps)

Education and Experience. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. If you don’t have that, consider taking classes at your local community college or online coursework to help you get up to speed with the skills required for this job.

Portfolio. Your portfolio is your calling card it shows potential employers what you can do and how well you do it. The best way to create a portfolio is through real-world work experience as an intern, freelancer, or assistant writer in the field.[1] If this isn’t feasible for you at this time, consider building one through volunteer work on relevant projects.[2]

Resume and Cover Letter: A resume will highlight all of your relevant qualifications and experiences including education (make sure it includes dates), awards and honors received (if any), 

Jobs held over the years along with their duties/responsibilities/skills needed for each position (make sure these reflect industry standards). As for cover letters, they should contain relevant keywords from the job description as well as demonstrate enthusiasm about working for that specific company/organization.”

If you’re aspiring to become a technical writer and achieve financial success, our comprehensive guide on How to Become a Technical Writer & Earn Six Figures in the Next 12 Months is a must-read. Discover the strategies and steps to accelerate your career and income potential.

Step 1 – Get An Education And Experience

If you want to be a technical writer, you need to get an education and experience. There are a few ways to acquire both:

Formal education is the more traditional way of getting your foot in the door. You can enroll in an undergraduate program or graduate program that includes technical writing as one of its subject areas. While there, you’ll learn how to craft clear, concise content that conveys information effectively and efficiently with little effort on the part of readers.

Informal education involves learning through real-world application instead of classroom lessons. If this sounds more up your alley, then look into internships or apprenticeships—many companies offer these types of opportunities for people who want hands-on experience before committing full-time (or at all).

Paid work experience is also helpful when it comes time for job searches because it shows employers that you have what it takes to succeed in their industry by demonstrating competency through actions rather than just words on paper.”

Step 2 – Polish Your Portfolio

Now that you’ve got a second draft of your resume, it’s time to think about the next step in your career: building a portfolio.

A portfolio is an important tool for any aspiring technical writer or copywriter. It should include samples of your work, such as blog posts or white papers, as well as other writing samples that show off your skills. 

You can also use it to showcase any awards or accomplishments related to technical writing or copywriting or anything else that shows off your strengths as a writer and demonstrates why someone should hire you for their team.

Here are some tips for creating an effective portfolio:

Make sure all the information on each page is easy to find and read. Use titles that are clear, concise, and descriptive.

This makes it easier for people who don’t know what they’re looking at while still conveying what they need to know about each piece of writing to understand its importance within whatever context they’re looking at (e.g., “What Is Technical Writing?” vs “The Role Of Technical Writers”).

Step 3 – Create A Resume And Cover Letter

A resume and cover letter will be vital to your job search. These two documents are the first impressions you give potential employers, so make sure they’re as strong as possible.

First and foremost, your CV/resume should be easy to read. You want readers to be able to scan it and find information without having to do too much reading or searching through long paragraphs of text. It should also be up-to-date and error-free (more on this later).

A cover letter is another important document that sets the tone for your application and shows how well you can communicate in writing something very important in technical writing positions! Make sure yours is personalized for each application and addresses specific points about why you think you’d be a great fit for the position at hand.

Technical writing isn’t just about jargon-filled documents—it’s a vital communication skill. Explore the reasons why technical writing matters and why you should care by diving into our article on What Technical Writing Is and Why You Should Care, and unlock its significance in various industries.

Step 4-Search For And Apply To Jobs

Now that you have a sense of what technical writing is and how it can be used in the workplace, it’s time to get out there and find some jobs.

Search For Jobs. You can use traditional methods such as job boards or simply search for employers that fit your criteria on LinkedIn or Google. If you’re looking for freelance work, online freelancer sites like Upwork are also a great place to start.

Apply To Jobs. Once you’ve found an employer who sounds like they could be interested in what you have to offer, make sure their requirements match up with your skills and experience before applying this will save both parties time by eliminating applications from people who aren’t qualified for the beginning!

Follow Up On Your Applications & Interviews (when appropriate). Keep track of all communication between yourself and potential employers during this process so there aren’t any misunderstandings later on down the line when it comes time for negotiations about salary/benefits packages etcetera.”

Step 5-Prepare For The Interview Like You’re Making A Presentation

You will be asked to prepare a presentation about your career and what you do. You should think about the audience and the message you want to deliver.

Prepare answers for questions like: “What is technical writing? What are some of the things I would do on a typical day?”

Review examples of projects or presentations in which you have used technical communication skills (e.g., an academic paper). Consider how these examples might show off your strengths as a writer, editor, graphic designer, etc.

Step 6 – Negotiate Salary And Benefits

The final step in the technical writing job search is to negotiate salary and benefits. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, there are several resources out there for new hires. 

This guide from Glassdoor will walk you through the basics of how to ask for a higher salary, while this video from Monster advises on how to ask for your dream job offer and what you should know about negotiating your compensation package.

These conversations can be awkward and nerve-wracking for new employees, but they are also an important part of getting what you want out of your first job out of college or graduate school. 

Be sure to do some research ahead of time so that when it comes time for negotiations (and trust us: it will!), you come prepared with strong points about why exactly someone should give them more money than they were initially offered by their employer!

Step 7 – Start Your New Job!

Congratulations! You have come this far and are ready to start your new job. This is a big step in your life and career, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Learn from them, learn how to use the tools at your disposal, and work hard. Communication is key!

Communication with Your Team

You will be working with other people who may not have been trained in technical writing before. Therefore, you must know what they are doing on their end so they understand what you need from them as well. 

If possible, try and meet them face-to-face or video conference with each of them individually when starting so you can get a good feel for their personalities before jumping right into writing together. This will ensure there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications between everyone involved – especially when deadlines loom overhead!

Communication With Your Clients

Your clients want nothing more than for their documents or websites/apps/etc…to be completed successfully while being easy enough for anyone else (and sometimes even themselves) to use without any confusion whatsoever! 

To help accomplish this goal without fail every time we must first define exactly what conclusion(s) 

We wish our readership(s) take away from reading our content…then proceed accordingly by creating content highlighting only those points which ultimately leave readers thinking “Yes – now I understand everything about X topic; now I am confident enough about X topic that I could show others how awesomely useful it is too!”

Enhance your technical writing toolbox with our curated list of the Top 16 Most Useful & Easy-to-Use Technical Writing Tools. From software to resources, these tools can streamline your writing process and help you create more effective and polished content.

With The Right Education, Experience, Portfolio, And Tools, You Can Become A Technical Writer

To become a technical writer, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the English language. You’ll also need to be able to write, concisely, and accurately to write instructions that are easy to understand by your audience.

Many technical writers have degrees in writing or journalism. But just because you don’t have those credentials doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed in this career! If you’re willing to learn new skills, there’s no reason why you couldn’t become a successful technical writer with time and effort.

Technical writers need to pay attention to detail and be able to work under pressure and most importantly: work well with others! If your boss gives you an assignment, 

He/she must see how committed you are from day one so communication skills play a big role here too since they allow people from different backgrounds to collaborate effectively together towards common goals (i.e., completing projects).


If you’re interested in becoming a technical writer, then this is the perfect place to start! We’ve gone over all the basics of what a technical writer does, why they exist, and how to become one yourself. And now that you know all about it, there’s no excuse not to go out there and get yourself a job!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to further expand your understanding of becoming a technical writer:

How to Become a Technical Writer: A Comprehensive Guide Learn the step-by-step process to start your journey as a technical writer and gain insights into the skills and knowledge required.

A Guide to Pursuing a Career as a Technical Writer Explore the role of a technical writer, discover the essential skills, and get advice on how to kick-start a successful career in technical writing.

Becoming a Technical Writer: Tips from the Pros Dive into expert tips and real-world experiences to get a deeper understanding of what it takes to thrive as a technical writer.


What qualifications are needed to become a technical writer?

To become a technical writer, you typically need a strong command of language, excellent communication skills, and a knack for simplifying complex concepts for diverse audiences. While a degree in English, communications, or a technical field can be helpful, it’s not always mandatory. Many technical writers develop their skills through on-the-job experience and continuous learning.

How do I improve my technical writing skills?

Improving your technical writing skills involves practice, continuous learning, and seeking feedback. Engage in writing projects, study style guides and best practices, and consider taking online courses or attending workshops that focus on technical writing. Additionally, collaborating with experienced technical writers and incorporating their feedback can accelerate your skill development.

What industries require technical writers?

Technical writers are essential in a wide range of industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, finance, and more. Any industry that produces complex products, software, or services that require clear and accurate documentation relies on skilled technical writers to communicate effectively with users, clients, and other stakeholders.

Is coding knowledge necessary for technical writing?

While coding knowledge can be beneficial, it’s not always a requirement for technical writing. Depending on the subject matter, having a basic understanding of coding can help you better comprehend and explain technical concepts. However, many technical writers specialize in domains that don’t require coding expertise, focusing more on effective communication and documentation skills.

How do I break into the field of technical writing?

Breaking into the field of technical writing involves a combination of building relevant skills, creating a strong portfolio, and networking. Start by gaining a foundational understanding of technical writing principles and tools. Then, practice by working on sample projects or volunteering for technical writing tasks. Develop a portfolio showcasing your abilities, and connect with other professionals in the field to explore potential job opportunities.