Did you know? One of the fastest-growing jobs in America today is a surprising one: Technical Writer. What used to be a backwater for people who couldn’t get a job doing real technical work or an easy way to sneak into a technology company is changing quickly. Companies desperately need good writers because they have so much documentation to produce.
In 2022, there will be at least 15-20k technical writers in Silicon Valley alone and more in remote areas or companies that do a lot of documentation to release products. Companies are desperate to hire them because they are so few.
Read on to learn more about how to become a technical writer in 2022:
5. Get A Scholarship
The technical writing field is growing fast. And while many tech companies are desperate to hire people, the supply of technical writers far outstrips the demand.
While many companies desperately want to hire technical writers, they have a hard time competing with the likes of Google and Apple in terms of compensation.
Many companies are offering external fellowships to help bring technical writers into their ranks.
Some companies offer graduate and undergraduate scholarships to study technical writing (and other types of documentation) and then hire the graduates.
Other companies, such as Google, have started their own internal programs to train technical writers.
If you are in college or planning on going to college soon, writing for your school’s newspaper, tech blog, or other publication is a great way to get experience and put yourself in the running for these types of opportunities.
4. Get Internships
Many of the companies that offer scholarships also have internships for undergraduates and recent graduates, so it’s a way to build up your resume and get an edge on the competition.
It will be essential to get an internship while you’re still in college and then parlay that into a full-time job when you graduate. While many companies, like Google, offer their own internships, it’s also possible to get internships with technology companies that don’t have their own school programs.
In addition to internships, projects and volunteer work can be a great way to get practical experience doing technical writing. However, most of the jobs out there require more experience than that, so keep that in mind. Remember, your goal is to start building a portfolio so you can take advantage of opportunities when they come up.
3. Join a Technical Writing Group
There are a lot of groups that aim to help technical writers build their careers and learn better writing skills. In addition to helping you find opportunities, these groups can offer networking and support.
In particular, check out the Society for Technical Communications. While it has a fairly specific focus, being a member of the organization can help you meet other writers and learn more about the industry.
In the future, most companies will likely have a built-in community for technical writers and other employees with similar training. But right now, many of these groups are still relatively small.
In addition to groups like the STC, online forums and technical writing chat channels can help you find support. However, these options carry a lot of risks.
You can easily get scammed or have your ideas stolen.
So, only join forums and channels with a built-in reputation system where other writers can grade your writing and comment on it.
Your best bet is to balance the online community with courses and workshops where you can interact in real life and get support.
2. Get a Degree
Right now, there is no specific degree for technical writers, and most companies won’t hire someone without liberal arts or humanities degree.
However, this is slowly starting to change as companies explore the options technical writers can bring to the table. In particular, Google has been pushing for technical writers with Computer Science degrees and is willing to train them in-house.
In the future, technical writing schools will likely start popping up, and companies will be willing to hire people who have gone through that type of program. But until then, the most practical approach to move forward with a career in technical writing would be to pursue relevant courses and available programs so you can equip yourself with the right knowledge.
1. Get a Job
This seems obvious, but it’s still an essential step to take if you want to become a technical writer.
If you don’t have any experience, getting an internship is the best way to get started.
It’s also essential to build your portfolio when you can and volunteer or do consulting work in your spare time to show off your skills.
It’s not an easy career to get into, but technical writing can be an amazing place to build your career if you do it right. In addition to learning all the technical skills, many successful people in this field end up becoming great writers or editors.
Writing is a skill that can be taught, so keep that in mind. Even if you don’t have much experience right now, you can take classes and join writing groups to start improving. There’s nothing better than actually taking the plunge and start practicing with real jobs to build your portfolio. This way you can focus on learning technical skills even if you don’t have any experience in the short term, and build your reputation along the way.
While learning technical skills will give you the foundation to become a writer, it’s not enough on its own. To be truly successful in this field, you’ll need to build the right network, learn how to write well, and constantly improve your abilities.
If you’re serious about this career path, don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from your mistakes. In 10 years, it will be ubiquitous for successful technical writers to have a liberal arts degree and some technical skills.
However, there are still plenty of opportunities to stand out from the crowd in the short term. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful technical writer.