Technical Writing: Is It the Right Job?

Most of the applications that come in for the job of the technical writer are from the candidates who do not have even a vague idea of what it is about. During the interviews, they give certain standard but useless answers:

  • This organization will give me an opportunity to grow.” OR
  • I want to be a part of this esteemed organization.” OR
  • I am very interested in writing, I have written the project reports at college.”

The rant is on without actually knowing what the esteemed organization does. This happens because they are desperate for a job and don’t want to wait for the right job or career option. So they apply to any opportunity that comes their way. For example, engineering graduates may apply for a technical writing job only because the education qualification in the advertisement mentions the word engineering. They don’t care anything beyond that (job requirement, skill set, job description). Hence, after a few months, they realize that it is not what they want to do.

People have different perceptions about technical writing, based on their understanding of the job profile. This is probably better than not knowing what it is about. People with some knowledge about technical writing can be grouped into the following categories:

  • Those who have heard of technical writing, but have a distorted or unclear ideas and/or opinions about it.
  • Those who know about the concepts of technical writing, but look down upon it to take it up as a career.
  • Those who have a generic idea of what technical writing is, but are unsure or confused about it as a career prospective.
  • Those who do not know much about technical writing, but are ready to try it out for the time being because they have heard that it pays well.
  • Those who have a reasonably good idea about technical writing and opt it as a prospective career.

The purpose of this article is to help you decide if this is the right job for you and give you the right direction in becoming one. I have often said that I did not know about technical writing before I entered this field. But, when I look back, I realize that unknowingly, I have used this form of writing when creating project reports during my schooling and engineering days. We had to research, gather information, understand the subject/technology, and document the technology in a way that could be understood by the people reading it.

A good technical writer plays a significant and important role in the organization just as a good developer does. Just as an engineer is hired to design graphics, create/develop the product, perform quality assurance, etc., you are hired to create documentation. So you have a specific duty to perform. Whether you agree or not, technical writing is a rewarding career. Apart from writing about technology, it is also a process of discovery of:

  • Unknown subjects—technology, tool, product—anything that is new to you.
  • New tools and software used for documentation and image editing.
  • Unknown problems and situations (which happens very often).
  • Very simple solutions to the problems that seem unsolvable.
  • Your untapped potentials

In this process of learning and solving problems, you also get acquainted with a part of yourself which you were not aware about. For example, you realize that you are good at trouble-shooting or that you stay calm and work effectively during tight and stressful deadlines.

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