What Is A Tech Writer?

A colleague of mine sent me this today:

I have been a tech writer in one way or another for over 15 years. Usually when people ask me what I do and I tell them I am a tech writer I immediately get the deer in the headlights look.

Sounds so mysterious. I promise, it’s a lot less glamorous than it sounds. How often do you see pictures online of Tech Writers walking the red carpet?

When someone asks Ryan Reynolds what I do he usually says “Something with computers”. Bruce says I ” don’t do anything all day but type on a computer. And that’s easy – I do it every Wednesday at Computer class”. 

Developers often think a Tech Writer’s job is easy because anyone can write. That might be true- technically a monkey can write with a crayon if you give them the right tools. But, that doesn’t mean it will be any good. Is it written for the intended audience? Is it translated into easy to understand English for the average person without an engineering degree? Does it address the topics an average user would be interested in?

I got into Tech Writing the way most do – by accident. There was no Tech Writer Barbie that I dreamed to emulate. I knew I wanted to do something that involved writing, so I majored in English and minored in Communications while in college. Most people think the only thing an English degree is good for is teaching. But, that’s not true. An English degree opens so many doors because you are not tied down to one focused area as you would be with an Accounting degree or an Engineering degree.

I  have been a journalist, graphic designers, copy editor, writer, speech writer, web designer, blogger, high school English teacher, writing tutor, Policy and Procedures writer, Public Relations associate, Corporate Communications Coordinator, event planner, sports writer, and magazine writer, among other things.

An English literature degree doesn’t prove you are qualified to do a specific job; it proves that you are qualified and capable of thinking for yourself.  In today’s world where most new employees learn by fire that is a huge asset to a potential employer. You will be able to jump right in, get your hands dirty and make informed decisions about the issues that come across your desk daily. And that is more valuable to an employer than anything.



2 Responses to “What Is A Tech Writer?”

  • 2
    Claudio says:

    Very informative post, i’m regular reader of your blog.
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    Claudio recently posted..Claudio

  • 1
    Irene says:

    Damn, I knew I should have picked that major when I went to college! It was the only course I did good in…communications! But I left because I wasn’t really mentally prepared to go to college. Thanks for the insight! I’ve always had a curiosity about Tech Writing!
    Irene recently posted..Sights and Sounds of the Car Show

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