Job Title: Technical Writer
Type of Company: I work for a local high-tech company that provides services and software world-wide.
Education: BA, English and Classical Studies, Tufts University Graduate Certificate, Technical Writing Training Program, Northeastern University
Previous Experience: I worked for two different high-tech companies after obtaining by graduate certificate in technical writing. With more than 10 years of experience, I took time off to be home with my children but re-entered the work-force once they were in school full-time. I've held my current technical writing position for more than a year.
Job Tasks: I write product documentation for end-user guides and on-line help. I participate in feature design meetings, work closely with development and quality engineering teams, plan and maintain my writing schedule and handle the technical aspects of online help. I contribute to the redesign of our current documentation and on-line help, with an emphasis on completeness, accuracy and usability.
I meet weekly with my team to discuss issues and status, track and resolve issues, co-coordinate work flow and communicate project status to management and team members.
In a typical day, I try to gather as much information as I can about a product feature from various sources: the developers who code the feature, the quality assurance people who test the feature and the marketing people who position it. With that information in hand, I write about the feature so that our users can understand what it does and how to use it.
I also contribute occasionally to our product's user interface, suggesting the best wording for on-screen instructions, for example.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I get to work with a lot of smart and interesting people, and I get paid to learn new things and think creatively.
The worst part of my job is that I have very tight schedules and feel like I never get to complete a guide to my satisfaction.
1.) Learn to change your work style to accommodate those who you need information from, on an as-needed basis.
2.) Be flexible.
3.) Take a basic technical writing course.
4.) Stay up-to-date on the tools of your trade; become an expert in the software you will use to help you get your job done.
Additional Thoughts: Technical writing is a great career if you're someone who enjoys learning new things all the time. It's also a great career if you are looking for flexibility and work/life balance. There are many companies that contract with writers for short or long terms, and do not require you to be onsite, so you can work from your home office.
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